Our Town, Neshoba County: 60th Annual Choctaw Indian Fair

The 60th Annual Choctaw Indian Fair continues through Saturday. Between 25,000 and 30,000 people are expected to attend.

Organizers say they are placing a strong emphasis on reaching out to young people.

The fair tradition goes back to 1949. It features traditional Choctaw dances, arts, crafts and food. Since it first started, the number of dancing groups at the fair has swelled from three to almost 20.

"We have most all communities, even Bogue Houma from 90 miles away. They are performing. So, I'm proud of that," said Thalis Lewis, cultural affairs director for the Mississippi Band of Choctaw Indians .

Organizers say they are also proud that a growing number of young people are taking interest in learning more of the Choctaw traditions.

18-year-old dancer Laken Vaughn from Conehatta is one of those. She's even now teaching her young cousin traditional dance.

"It's real important because nowadays we've started to lose our language and even the dances," said Vaughn.

Shunna Chapman has been weaving baskets since age 10 and is also teaching others.

"Last year I went around to summer schools teaching the younger kids, demonstrating how to do basket weaves and stuff like that," said Chapman.

That's why fair organizers say they feel confident that Choctaw traditions will not die.

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