Some take offense at state fair attraction. Andy Gipson says there’s nothing offensive about it.

Some take offense at state fair attraction. Andy Gipson says there’s nothing offensive about it.
Some take offense at state fair attraction. Andy Gipson says there’s nothing offensive about it.(WLBT)
Published: Oct. 7, 2021 at 10:58 PM CDT
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JACKSON, Miss. (WLBT) - The state fair is now underway and many people are heading to the fairgrounds to be a part of the fun.

However, the gates to this year’s event didn’t swing open without controversy.

One display at the fair is called Mississippi Frontier Village. It’s centered around life in Mississippi during the 1800s.

For many people, this caused concerns - including Hezekiah Watkins.

As Watkins walked through the Mississippi Frontier Village on Thursday, he admits, he was worried about what he’d see.

”The theme was going to be in the 1800s, that became very offensive to me,” said Watkins, who is a Jackson resident. “In the 1800s we were still being brought over here on slave ships.”

See, Watkins was a Freedom Rider. The civil rights activist spent his life fighting for justice and equality, even being arrested more than 100 times.

While looking at the display, to his surprise, nothing about it was offensive which he said is a relief.

”After being here today, I don’t see anything that represents what I saw on TV,” Watkins expressed.

Andy Gipson, Mississippi Commissioner of Agriculture and Commerce, said the display isn’t and shouldn’t be offensive to anyone.

“Any child would be welcomed here, because this is a family friendly, fun, Frontier Village,” said Gipson.

When asked about the backlash the setup is receiving, Gipson said the majority of it came before anyone had a chance to see it for themselves.

”It’s a good example of what happens when social media doesn’t have all the facts, and people assume things that are wrong,” said Gipson. ”Those who want to come to the fair, don’t let that be discouragement for not coming.

”I would invite anybody who thinks it’s a problem to come walk it with me. If I had my family here, your family is welcomed here too,” said Gipson.

The Mississippi Frontier Village features things such as a western comedy show, pig racing, and a petting zoo, just to name a few.

This year marks the 162nd year for the state fair. It’ll be going on from now until October 17.

Click on this link for more information on times and what all you can expect from this year’s fair.

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