Madison residents Jim, Mae and Linda Hardy pose for a photo on the front porch of their Neshoba County Fair cabin.
Madison residents Jim, Mae and Linda Hardy pose for a photo on the front porch of their Neshoba County Fair cabin.
It may have been more than four decades ago, but Mae Hardy of Madison remembers her first year at The Neshoba County Fair.

“It was 1979… right? No, 1977,” Hardy said. “Yes, 1977… It’s been a long time.”

After 40, who is counting?

Mae, her husband Jim and their daughter Linda certainly weren’t Thursday afternoon as they spent the afternoon on the front porch of their cabin on Henry Rush Street, facing the racetrack and enjoying the last bit of calm before the first official day of the fair Friday.

Like so many families that have that many years invested in Mississippi’s largest house party, the Hardys have quite the story.

Jim, a retired highway patrolman who grew up in Philadelphia, remembers his father rebuilding cabin 236 when he was young. He remembers how his dad liked to brag that he had built it without ever using a level or a T-square.

Somehow, it’s still standing.

“Well, he had some help,” Jim said, laughing. “It was him and my granddaddy, plus a couple of guys that owed him money.”

Forty-two years together at the fair is a long time to make memories, and the Hardys certainly have.

There’s a post inside their cabin where the proud parents every year marked the heights of Linda and their son Lee, who are both grown. Now, the post also tracks heights for Lee’s daughters Tynlee and Rylee.

And there are others. In total, Jim and Mae estimate more than 25 to 30 different folks will stay under their roof over the course of the week.

“Seeing and spending time with family is definitely my favorite part of the fair,” Mae explained. “The time at the cabin - right here on this porch with family and friends - is the best part of the whole week.

“Everything else is just extra.”