EAST CENTRAL MISSISSIPPI 247 T he East Central region of Mississippi is composed of Clarke, Kemper, Lauderdale, Newton, Neshoba, Jasper, Leake, Smith, and Scott counties. The region can be divided into a number of sub-regions. The Yellow Loam region includes all or portions of Leake, Scott, Newton, Kemper, and Lauderdale. The Strong River region encompasses those lands along the river of that name and runs southwestwardly through Smith, Rankin, and Simpson counties, past the town of D’Lo and into the Pearl River. The Northeastern Prairie region, with fine prairie soil, is productive for cotton, cereals, fruit, clover, and grasses, and dips into Northeast Kemper County. The Flatwoods region is a narrow belt bordering the Northeastern Prairie region to the west that slips slightly into Kemper County, but remains mostly north of the county. Bordering on the south, the Central Prairie and Long Leaf Pine regions include South Leake, Scott, north Smith, Newton, Jasper, Lauderdale, and Clarke counties. Further south is the Long-Leaf (Yellow) Pine region encompassing the southern portions of Smith, Scott, Jasper, and Lauderdale counties and all of Clarke County. These vastly diverse regions drew a multitude of cultures and ethnicities with the hopes and dreams of new lives and fresh starts, all of whom contributed to the social, political, spiritual, and economic development of the East Central region. MISSISSIPPI’S GIANT HOUSE PARTY When the Neshoba County Fair first started in 1889 as an agricultural fair, attendees would stay in wagons and tents. Around 1898, people began to build cabins to stay in during the fair. There are now more than 600 cabins on the property that are passed down through families. A tradition for generations, the Neshoba County Fair is the largest county fair and the only remaining campsite fair in the United States. While the original agricultural aspect still remains a part of the attraction, political speeches, carnival rides, and family cabins have all added to the culture surrounding the fair. The site of the only licensed horse-track in Mississippi, the Neshoba County Fair has harness races every afternoon and three horse races during the week. Betting on horse races is illegal in Mississippi, but many people still gather around the track and on cabin porches to watch and cheer for the competitors.