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Copies of what is believed to be the only recording of then-Republican Presidential nominee Ronald Reagan's 1980 speech at the Fair has been donated to The Reagan Library and the Mississippi Department of Archives and History by a Neshoba County native.
Reagan's visit to the Fair was his first public appearance following his nomination with over 30,000 said to be in attendance.
S. Leburn Hutchison, now of Littleton, Colo., was going through his late mother's belongings last summer when he found an audio tape with the inscription: Reagan-Fair 1980.
Listening to the tape, Hutchison soon recognized the voice of Dr. R. A. Posey introducing Reagan on a Sunday afternoon during the 89th Fair and realized the significance of his newfound treasure.
"I played it and I was astonished by the quality of the tape," he said.
His mother, Mrs. Agnes Hutchison of Philadelphia, recorded Reagan's speech on a small inexpensive handheld tape recorder, while she was seated in the grandstand surrounded by thousands.
Coincidentally, the lettering, denoting "The Neshoba County Fair," on the podium from which Reagan spoke and was photographed by state and national news media, was done by Hutchison's father, the late N. S. "Sibb" Hutchison, who owned a sign company here for many years.
Celia Tisdale, audio-visual curator for the state Archives and History called the tape an incredible find.
"This is an incredible find and will be a valuable addition to our collections," she said.
Hutchison said he was amazed at the content and quality of the cassette tape, one among many found in his mother's box.
"Listening to it, I thought about converting it into CD format for historic and research purposes," he said.
Hutchison had 14 CDs made of the 53-minute tape which were distributed also to the Reagan Ranch for its archives as well as to the Neshoba County Library and families of many who played key roles in Reagan's visit to the Fair.
"The Reagan Library only lists Governor Reagan's speeches beginning in 1981," Hutchison said. "So this CD of his Aug. 3, 1980 appearance should be a valuable addition to its archives."
Among others receiving copies were former Secretary of State Dick Molpus, also a native Neshoba Countian.
"Listening to the tape, Dick said he didn't realize 26 years ago, that Reagan's Fair speech would enter our county, state and national folklore," Hutchison said.
He recognized the work of Fair officials and others instrumental in arranging Reagan's visit.
"It would be impossible to do in today's security conscience world," Hutchison said.
In his speech, Reagan said he and Nancy had never seen anything like the Fair because "there isn't anything like this any place on the earth."
Posted: Wednesday, February 16, 2011
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Is it possible to get a copy of the speech for use in a public television documentary about Reagan?
Posted: Friday, July 20, 2007
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I was there at The neshoba county Fair, when mr.and mrs. reagan came to the fair. I came with a couple of my friends who later married, and we ebjoyed the day, and got to shake hands with Mr. Reagan, and even hugged Mrs. Reagan. A few weeks later, we saw rhem at the Mississippi Boys' Ranch near Columbus, Mississippi. I took my Mother, and another lady