Mississippi News

Gipson feels legislation threatens most State Fairgrounds, Ag Museum events

Mississippi Agriculture and Commerce Commissioner Andy Gipson said Tuesday, March 12 that a pair of bills moving through the Mississippi Legislature this session are threatening to end a large number of events traditionally held at the Mississippi State Fairgrounds and the Mississippi Agriculture and Forestry Museum, both in Jackson.

House Bill 1357 and Senate Bill 2631 would restrict or prevent Fairgrounds and Ag Museum private event funds in the form of sponsorships, advertising and naming rights, sweeping private funds into the “control” of the State Legislature effective July 1. Currently, these voluntary private sector dollars fund Fairgrounds and Ag Museum operations, improvements, and repairs. 

Gipson said, “I have already been contacted by the main Dixie National Rodeo and State Fair sponsors, as well as by dozens of other event promoters who are adamantly opposed to these bills.  They see this as a money-grab by the Legislature; a true attempt to confiscate their voluntary private sponsorship dollars by the State. The result of this legislation will either be diminished investment in the Mississippi State Fairgrounds and the Agriculture and Forestry Museum, or an increase in taxpayer dollars going toward those facilities instead of private sector dollars.”

The passage of these bills would threaten not only the existence of the Dixie National Rodeo and Livestock Shows, but also the Mississippi State Fair and livestock shows and all the sponsored Fair activities and sponsored Ag Museum activities in Jackson.

In addition, most other private events on the Fairgrounds would be in jeopardy or have services and facilities diminished because the Mississippi State Fair and Dixie National Rodeo pay most of the operational and repair costs of the State Fairgrounds.

Gipson concluded, “If the Legislature persists in passing these bills as introduced, I can guarantee both the Fairgrounds and Ag Museum will lose many valuable private sponsors. As a result, there will be fewer events, less revenue generated, and less economic development for the City of Jackson and the State of Mississippi.  Rental rates will be forced up by the Legislature on all Fairgrounds venues.  And, instead of a destination for thousands of schoolchildren, the Ag Museum could quickly become a ghost town.  I remain cautiously optimistic that our elected Legislators will listen to the concerns of our great event promoters as well as our 4-H and FFA livestock and horse show families, before it is too late.”

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