It's pretty easy to accept the notion that birds are descended from the dinosaurs when you're standing nose-to-beak with an ostrich, its huge, black predatory eyes boring directly into your own, trying to assess whether you are friend, foe or food.
Everyone at the Hancock County Fair and Rodeo today from 3-5 p.m. will get an opportunity for an up-close glimpse of several ostriches -- and camels -- for the fair's Exotic Animal Races.
"This is the first year the fair will host the Exotic Animal Races," Hancock County Tourism Bureau Executive Director Myrna Green said Friday. "This is the second year for the exhibition horse races. After that will be the T-Rex races," featuring people running while dressed in inflatable tyrannosaurus rex costumes.
The seventh annual Hancock County Fair -- now estimated to be the second largest festival in the state of Mississippi, just behind the annual Crawfish Music Festival in Biloxi -- began on Wednesday and is scheduled to wrap up today, Saturday, Sept. 21, at the Fairgrounds in the Kiln.
The fair includes livestock exhibits, carnival rides, food and drinks from local restaurants, a 4-D barrel run, exhibition horse races, and a junior high school rodeo.
Other activities scheduled today include a stick horse rodeo, chicken auction and half-price carnival rides from noon-3 p.m.
In the live music line-up, Gary Young will take the stage today from 4:30-6 p.m., followed by Red Marlow from 8:30-10 p.m. and Stoney Larue from 10:30-midnight.
The fair is presented by the non-profit Hancock County Community Committee.
"I'd just like to give a special thank you to the nine members of the Community Committee," Green said. "These folks work all year long to make sure the county fair flows so smoothly. It's such a wonderful event. It's an old-fashioned county fair, and there's so few of those left, and it showcases every aspect of our county -- the artists, the children who work so hard to raise these animals, county facilities, such as our state-of-the-art arena, everything.
The Hancock County Fairgrounds are located at 4884 Kiln-Delisle Road. For additional information, call 228- 216-0013; or visit www.hancockcountyfair.us.