Neshoba County Fair Prepares for Possible Tea Party Hecklers

The atmosphere here at the Neshoba County Fair today has been peaceful and serene. But fairgoers aren't so sure about Thursday. U.S. Senator Thad Cochran will be delivering his speech right here on this stage. But likely under the stress of Tea Party hecklers.

The South Mississippi Tea Party has asked supporters to show up in full force and confront the incumbent senator. It's not yet clear just how rowdy the crowd might get.

"Did you ever see the movie 'Animal House' at the end when the parade went crazy? You know, I don't know what to expect," editorial cartoonist Marshall Ramsey says. "I have been to 17 of these, and I've seen contentious elections and everything else, and I've never truly ever seen people go crazy, but I do expect it to be lively. Let's just put it that way."

The organization is asking supporters not to be silent, and to come bearing homemade signs. Syndicated columnist Sid Salter says that's par for the course at the fair.

"There is a fairly long tradition of raucous politics here, so it wouldn't surprise me to see some of that tomorrow," Salter says. "But the fair association takes great pains to maintain order."

Security Director Ward Calhoun says threats will not be tolerated. However, attendees always have the chance to express themselves during these political speeches.

"We're going to hope the people will be respectful, that they would treat speakers as they want to be treated, or in some cases as their candidate would want to be treated," he says.

But don't expect to see extra guards here for the occasion. Calhoun says he believes there's ample security to handle any situations that may occur.