New outdoors, conservation, wildlife and agriculture expo announced for 2020
JACKSON — Months after an annual wildlife expo organized by the Mississippi Wildlife Federation nearly collapsed due to backlash and boycotts because of the organization’s long-standing stance opposing the backwater pumps, a new expo has been created.
Tuesday, the Mississippi Fair Commission announced it “signed a contract with the Mississippi Wildlife, Fisheries and Parks Foundation to promote wildlife and agriculture — two multi-billion dollar industries in the state — at a new expo to be launched in 2020. The event will emphasize conservation, agriculture, hunting, fishing and youth involvement in the outdoors.”
The Mississippi Wildlife, Fisheries and Parks Foundation will host the new event at the Mississippi State Fairgrounds July 31 through Aug. 2. The event will include a variety of vendors; an exhibition of agriculture, livestock and forestry equipment; educational seminars; property management demonstrations; youth activities and much more.
Mississippi Commissioner of Agriculture and Commerce Andy Gipson, who also serves as the Chairman of the Mississippi Fair Commission, said the new event and the venue are a perfect match.
“Mississippi farmers are our best conservationists. This marks a historic partnership between Mississippi’s agriculture and wildlife communities. I am pleased that the Mississippi State Fairgrounds will be the site of a new wildlife and outdoor event that will also feature agriculture and forestry,” Gipson said. “After all, agriculture is the largest industry in Mississippi. I believe this has the potential to become one of the largest events held on the fairgrounds and perfectly fits the mission of the Fair Commission to promote Mississippi agriculture.”
The expo organized by the Mississippi Wildlife Federation came under intense scrutiny over the summer when reports came out that the federation had reportedly blocked Victoria Darden, whose family farms in the south Delta, an area severely damaged by the months-long Yazoo Backwater Flood, from hosting a booth promoting the backwater pumps plan.
Although the Federation denied blocking Darden from participating, but rather placed her on a waiting list for booth space, the reports took over social media, which created a storm of vendors and organizations withdrawing from the Federation’s expo.
The impact of those withdrawals and boycotts by other groups led to a dramatic decrease in participating vendors and visitors to the expo.
Mississippi AG, a farm equipment dealer in Rolling Fork, which had been a long-standing participant of the Federation’s expo, kept their booth space commitment but instead donated their booth so Darden and those supporting the backwater pumps could attend the event and share information.
The Mississippi Wildlife, Fisheries and Parks Foundation is a Mississippi-based non-profit that “exists to augment the state’s efforts to ensure the conservation and enhancement of the state’s fish and wildlife resources so they survive and thrive for current and future generations.”
In a release by the Mississippi Department of Agriculture and Commerce, “the Foundation is the only outdoor organization that directly supports the Mississippi Department of Wildlife, Fisheries and Parks, which has the primary responsibility for hunting, fishing, shooting sports and conservation in the state. The Foundation facilitates and supports programs for various wildlife and educational projects around the state.”
“We are extremely excited to have the opportunity to work with the agriculture community to provide a new experience for conservationists and outdoor enthusiasts,” said Don Brazil, CEO of the Mississippi Wildlife, Fisheries and Parks Foundation. “The Mississippi Wildlife, Fisheries, and Parks Foundation will be working with partners on forthcoming details for the 2020 event.”