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Georgia State Fair Opens in Spring For First TIme
Back after absence in 2009
By Lisa Limerick & Robert Limerick
For the first time since 2008 Central City Park in Macon, GA came to life with the sights, sounds, and smells of a State Fair. This fair looked and seemed like the Georgia State Fairs of past except that it was being held in the Spring for the first time in history.
The 2010 fair was held from April 29 through May 9, beginning a new era in the history of the Georgia State Fair. The change of seasons for the fair came about because of rising competition from the Georgia National Fair and the North Georgia State Fair. All three of these events used to be held in October, causing competition for potential customers.
The Georgia State Fair started out slowly and was impacted by a complete washout on Monday and caused a modified midway on Tuesday due to puddles and water retention on the rich Georgia mud. As the week went on attendance picked up swiftly. Word of mouth got around just in time for the last weekend of the event and the crowds came. In fact, there were more guest at the event on the final Friday and Saturday then the total amount in the first eight days combined. The final day of the event was on Mother,s Day and it too proved to be a well-attended day.
The day before the gates opened the local paper in Macon released a report showing that the area had the highest unemployment rate in Georgia. With the economy in mind the Georgia State Fair kept ride prices the same as they were when the fair was last held in 2008. The fair also offered more unlimited ride deals than in previous years. For the first time, they used social media marketing by developing a Facebook page. Next year ,Twitter may be added. Betsy Yates, Director of the Georgia State Fair stated that she was "very, very pleased with the event". During the 11 day event there were approximately 70,000 attendees. Yates feels this is "a step in the right direction" for the re-introduction of the fair.
The fair had an abundance of rides provided by several companies including; Billy Tucker,s Dixieland Carnival with 15 pieces, June Baxter Vivona with 3 pieces, Bob McKnight with 6 pieces, and Amusements of America holding the contract and providing the balance of the equipment. All together, there were over 45 rides including the nostalgic Sky Wheel, the Twist, Extreme, Frog Hopper, Rock O Plane, Hustler, Zipper, and the Avalanche Roller Coaster plus many more. Quite a few of the rides made their first appearance at the Georgia State Fair and were very well received by the crowd. The most popular new ride was the Space Roller, which made its Georgia debut at the fair. The Space Roller takes the customer up and spins him around and upside down for a fun and exhilarating experience.
Other entertainment and attractions included Bob Bullit,s new Hamster Dance Ball and the M-4 Motion Flight Simulator. The Hamster Dance Ball allows participants to simulate the activities of a hamster by placing guests into a large zipped up plastic ball and turning them loose into a swimming pool to try and maneuver as a hamster would.
If spinning and twirling on the rides isn,t your idea of a great time, the Georgia State Fair provided more entertainment options this year then in the last 20 years. Kids and adults alike found exciting activities to keep them busy. There was a national finals barbecue cooking contest for BBQ Pitmasters that had BBQ cooks from all over the East Coast competing in front of the cameras for the Food Network and The Learning Channel. Twiggy the Water Skiing Squirrel was at the fair showing off his impressive water skiing talents, Rosaire,s Royal Racing Pigs were there as usual hamming it up for the crowds, No Joe,s Clown Circus kept the laughs coming, and Michelle,s Magical Poodles made for an exciting show with all of their tricks and jumps.
An an Exotic Petting Zoo which provided over 70 wild and unusual animals, including zebras. And, for the little ones, the PBS Kid,s show "Between the Lions" was onsite filming throughout the event.
The Georgia State Fair had no shortage of food with over 150 local and traveling food and merchandise vendors on site. Some of the choices included the usual fair food such as corn dogs, hamburgers, pizza, and sausages with peppers and onions. Some unusual items included Gyros, Burritos, and Tacos.
The midway was filled with the sweet smells of funnel cakes, cotton candy and the artery clogging Fried Oreo,s. "If you haven,t had a fried Oreo it is one of the best choices you can make on the midway" stated John Early a happy and well-satisfied fair guest.
The fair had three commercial and exhibit buildings that provided vendor and advertising opportunities. There was also a raffle fora truck that was given away on the last day of the event.
The State Fair of Georgia is owned and operated by the Exchange Club Of Macon which is a non-profit organization whose community platform is child abuse prevention. The Exchange Club receives support from local businesses who assist with funding the event.
Yates said that she is "very excited for next year". The next edition of the Georgia State Fair will be held April 28 through May 8, 2011.