Mid-South Fair Leaders Seek Memphis Return

By Bill Dries

The president of the Mid-South Fair told Memphis City Council members Tuesday, Nov. 19, that the nonprofit organization wants to return to Memphis.

“We were told to leave our home,” Michael Doyle, president of the fair, told council members of the fair’s departure as Memphis Mayor Willie Herenton made plans for a renovation of the Mid-South Fairgrounds that originally included a new Liberty Bowl Memorial Stadium.

The fair planned to move permanently to Tunica County but has since made Southaven its home.

Doyle and fair director Jessie Johnson talked to the council just before reporting to their board of directors that this year’s fair in Southaven saw attendance increase 18.9 percent from the year before with attendance of 84,697.

“Most were from Memphis,” Doyle told the council, adding that the fair feels limited by its current space, which caused the fair to close its gates on a busy Saturday in which 5,000 to 6,000 were waiting in line.

“We’re Memphians located by chance in Mississippi,” Doyle said. “We want to return home somehow, someway.”

He and Johnson outlined a search for 100 acres with more asphalt than grass and utility and sewer connections. Johnson said the organization will probably launch a capital campaign in three to four months to raise funds for permanent offices on such a site.