Firefighters excel in challenge

The9th annual Mendenhall in May festival was a complete success. Nearly 1,000 people gathered in downtown Mendenhall to join in the celebration.

The day began with the People’s Bank Run for the Money 5K Walk/Run. The winners of the event were Overall Male Runner Chris McNeece, Overall Female Runner Mary Margaret Rankin, Overall Male Walker Rod Simmons, Overall Female Walker Amanda Blakeney, Male Fun Run Winner Anthony Floyd, and Overall Female Fun Run Winner Evelyn Mata-Odwyer. Simpson General Hospital won an award for having the largest team.

Over 50 vendors set up along Main Street selling a variety of arts and crafts and other wares. The car show hosted by Booth Discount Tires, Napa, and Puckett’s Paint & Body produced several winners in different categories. The Mendenhall Chamber of Commerce hosted the BBQ Cook-Off. Of the six teams that competed, Billy Lofton won first place, Jr. Haynes second place, and Corey Jordan third place.

The main event was sponsored by Mississippi Diesel Products and PriorityOne Bank. The Simpson County Firefighters Challenge was exciting and competitive. The event began three years ago as a fundraiser to help with medical bills of Simpson County fire coordinator Randy Hays. Now it is a must-see event that is thrilling for everyone involved. This is the first time that the event has been held during Mendenhall in May. Challenge coordinator Jerry Fairchild said, “We enjoyed it and had a real good turn out.”

He said that the event attracted a lot of participation and that several people came from beyond Simpson County to participate. The challenge is growing and Fairchild was pleased at how fast the word is spreading.

This year’s Firefighters Challenge raised just under $17,000. In the past the money was split between all the fire departments of Simpson County and used to purchase equipment and make upgrades. Fairchild explained that now the money will be set aside as a benevolence fund for all firefighters in Simpson County.

He said, “This is a benevolence fund for anyone in the departments. So if anyone has an accident or, God forbid, loses their life, this money will go towards helping them and their family.”

The competition between fire departments was intense. Mike Ward was the announcer. All of the firefighters involved set out to do their personal best. At one point during the day there was a battle of the ages in which a Braxton 40 and over team was pitted against a Braxton under 40 team. The elders relied on their experience to take home the victory, and everyone enjoyed the show.

The winners of the individual competition were Clarence Parks, first place: Donny Leonard Jr., second place; and Joseph Busby, third place. Team “On Fire for God” took first place in the team competition. The Braxton 40 and over team won second, and the Pinola team won third place.

Fairchild said, “We would like to thank everyone who sponsored a door prize.”

Fairchild extended thanks to Mendenhall Chamber of Commerce, Mississippi Diesel Products, PriorityOne Bank, Magee Outdoor and Power, Big Dog Mower Company, Deep South Fire Trucks, CJ Signs and Graphics, South Group Insurance, Emergency Management Services, and Bonaventure.

Mendenhall in May was a day filled with fun for the entire family, and citizens are already looking forward to next year.