Choctaw Indian Fair
For centuries the Mississippi Choctaws have gathered at the ripening of the first corn. This gathering was called "The New Corn Ceremony" or "Green Corn Festival." The present day 'Choctaw Indian Fair has roots in this ancient celebration.
The Fair has long been a time for Choctaws to gather and pay homage to their traditions and heritage but it has also emerged as an opportunity for the Tribe to welcome visitors to the reservation and share their way of life.
Choctaw ancestors have left behind a rich legacy that includes:
- stickball (Native American)
- striking sticks
Even though the Fair has been around for many years the Mississippi Choctaw say that the fair began to evolve into the Annual Fair it has become in 1949. The Choctaw Princess Pageant was not added to the fair until 1955 when Patsy Sam (Buffington) was crowned as the first Choctaw Princess.
Nashville style country music became part of the Choctaw Indian Fair in the 1960s when Nashville stars such as Chet Atkins, Connie Smith, Lester Flatt, Mac Wiseman, Jerry Reed, Johnny Gimble, Pig Robbins, Merle Travis noticed what the Choctaws were doing with their Annual Fair. Each of these performers performed for free at the fairs as a tribute to the Choctaw Nation and what they were doing. In the 1970s paid performers were added to the Fair and now the last three nights of the Fair include paid performers bring country music to the Fair.
Along with the country music being part of the Annual Fair there has been a reemergence of the traditional dances of the Choctaw. In the 1970s an effort began to revive many of the traditional dances of the Choctaw that were no longer being danced. Because of the renewed interest in traditional dance brought about by the Annual Fair now each morning and afternoon dance groups from different communities perform for people attending the fair. Many of the dance groups now make paid appearances outside the reservation. The Choctaw dance performed at the Annual Fair is seen as an authentic expression of the ancient Choctaw traditional culture and gives people who attend the fair a glimpse into that culture.
Along with the music and dance there are many Choctaw artist who display there bead work, baskets, drums and other art during the Fair. At many of the artist tables you will see the skills of the artist being passed down traditionally as there will be two or three generations of the same family working on projects.
The 2012 Choctaw Indian Fair takes place July 11-14.
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