CABIN 291 NESHOBA COUNTY FAIRGROUNDS - If you asked members of the Neshoba County Fair family to describe the place in one word, answers might be: friends, cabins, politics, triathlon, dancing, rodeo, family, food, races, hot, games.

I like the horse races but I prefer the hermit crab races. I like the Grand Stand but I prefer the porch bands. And while more important to many of us, the politics at the Pavilion have nothing on the drama at the Midway. Every year there are new "first timers" that haven't heard the stories the rest of us tell every Fair, and every Fair there are new stories born that we'll remember for years to come.

Ever since Governor Anselm McLaurin spoke to the Fair in 1896, politicians have made the political pilgrimage to the red hills of Neshoba. Apparently, comedian Robin Williams is the great-great-grandson of McLaurin, and certainly many of the speakers who have followed McLaurin have supplied us with plenty of humor. But in contrast to past years, don't expect any antics, people in costumes or shenanigans this year.

This year's campaign cycle in Mississippi features judicial and congressional elections. Speeches will be on Wednesday and Thursday.

Because the U.S. House of Representatives is in session, none of the four incumbents will be speaking at the Fair. But six challengers from the First District, two from the Fourth District and one each from the Second and Third will be arguing for voters to send them to clean up the mess in Washington, DC. I'm sure the phrase "Fire Pelosi" will be uttered a few times.

The only contested judicial race on the roster features Circuit Court Judge Vernon Cotton who is being challenged by Jes Smith. Smith is a former public defender and municipal judge. The incumbent Cotton appears to be the local favorite with large signs at and on the approach to the Fairgrounds. Cotton has been active in the circuit's successful drug court system - a topic of which I expect Mississippi Chief Justice Bill Waller will also address in his speech to the crowd.

All of Mississippi's statewide elected officials will be speaking over the two days. Unfortunately, Attorney General Jim Hood and Governor Haley R. Barbour do not speak on the same day. In an issue close to the politics of Neshoba County, the Governor recently requested the Attorney General to research and pursue legal action against the Mississippi Band of Choctaw Indians in their pursuit of what the Governor terms a "slot-parlor" in Jones County. Barbour alleges Hood released his legal findings to other parties.

Barbour wrote in a July 26th letter to Hood, "As my lawyer, I expected your work product to be kept confidential; instead, without my prior knowledge and approval, your advice was sent directly to our anticipated litigation adversary on the same day I received your memo. I am not aware of an applicable exception to the Rules of Professional Conduct allowing an attorney to divulge privileged and confidential information of the client without a waiver. As you may know, it is my privilege to waive, and I have not waived it." Barbour asked Hood to explain "how this breach of confidentiality occurred and how your publicized advice will not be used to the State's disadvantage in this case so that I can determine what action I need to take."

I'm sure when each man steps off the back steps to the awaiting press, there will be questions on this matter. Hood announced earlier this year he would seek reelection in 2011; Barbour is term limited but often mentioned in national press reports as a possible contender for the Republican nomination for President in 2012.

Insurance Commissioner Mike Chaney is running for reelection; Agriculture Commissioner Lester Spell is not. For everyone else, don't miss the speeches.

Politics will be spicier next year when Neshoba will be one of the last opportunities for candidates to address the state's voters and media corps before the statewide primary election, which will occur just five days after Thursday's speeches wrap up in 2011.

Still, there will be plenty of politics this year discussed on the porches of the Fair.

A few years ago, one of my closest friends visited the Neshoba County Fair on behalf of Paula Wallace, president and cofounder of the Savannah College of Art and Design. Earlier this year Wallace released the book: "Perfect Porches: Designing Welcoming Spaces for Outdoor Living." The promotional description of the book says, "Home owners share colorful stories about using their porches as communal stages for magical and sometimes mythological events, telling of ghosts encountered, arias sung, and families reunited."

There is a full chapter in the book on the Neshoba County Fair. And for me that is my one word to describe this unique Mississippi event: porches.

Brian Perry is a partner in a public affairs firm. Reach him online at