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2016 Georgia National Fair: One for the Record Books

11/14/2016

By Mary Weber

Photo courtesy of Georgia National Fair

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The 2016 Georgia National Fair had a record-breaking year. This year, 536,840 people attended the fair: about a 25,000 person increase from the 2015 fair. 
 
Additionally, the Georgia National Fair broke their single day attendance record; On October 15th, 93,000 people came out to the fair. Marketing and Sponsorship Director, Keaton Walker says the Georgia National Fair "attributes the great attendance to a combination of excellent weather, planning, leadership, and welcoming atmosphere exemplified in all aspects of the Georgia National Fair."  A fusion of affordable admission specials, over 100 vendors, a large family midway, and lots of entertainment made the 2016 Georgia National Fair a huge success. 
 
The 10-day fair run included several admission specials to makePhoto By Georgia National Fair the fair accessible to all of Georgia's residents. The first day of the fair, Thursday October 6th,
was called "Sneak-A-Peek" day. The fair was open from 3pm-10pm; admission was $6 and armbands were $16. Fridays through Sundays the fair featured adult admission for $10 and senior admission for $8; each day of the fair, children 10 and under are free. Monday was the fair's "Patriotic Day;" all military personnel both active and retired as well as their immediate family members got into the fair free and armbands were available for $20. On Tuesday, the fair hosted a "Terrific Tuesday" promotion where all admission was $8 and armbands were available for $16. Wednesday was named "Wow Wednesday;" admission was $8 for adults, $6 for seniors, and armbands were available for $20. The fair partnered with the Georgia Lotto for "Thriller Thursday;" any person who brought a non-winning lotto ticket to the fair was admitted for $1 and armbands were available for $20.
 
The Georgia National Fair team made sure to offer a great variety of specials; "We really wanted to offer something for everyone in the community and the state; we want the fair to be diversified" said Walker. In addition to daily admission specials, the fair offers group rates and a unique Georgia National Schoolhouse Program. If a teacher brings her class to the fair on a field trip, the students, teacher, bus driver, and chaperones get into the fair for free. 
 
The Georgia National Fair's Midway was provided by Reithoffer shows. They brought 63 rides including one of their newest attractions; The Hurricane. The Midway gross increased from 2015. According to Walker, the Midway was beautiful and Reithoffer shows did a great job of providing family fun for all patrons. The Georgia National Fair Midway was constructed by a contractors who helped construct Disney World. 
 
Families also spent a lot of their time at the 4-H and FFA areas of the fair where the two groups hosted many competitive events. Livestock competitions were ongoing throughout the entire fair. Walker says that the 4-H and FFA programs are growing and they have a very strong relationship with the fair; "These events are always well attended. The fairgrounds were brought here to teach the youth about agriculture and to see the traditions hold true is really great." 4-H and FFA also included many domestic exhibits inside the fairgrounds buildings. Competitions for jams, woodworking, sewing, etc were held prior to the fair's opening and the winning entries were displayed throughout the fair.
 
The fair provided over $600,000 worth of entertainment for fairgoers. This year, they had 5 concerts which were free with gate admission; the headliners were The Nitty Gritty Dirt Band, Old Dominion, Ohio Players, Blues Traveler, and Boyz II Men. 
 
These concerts were held outdoors on the fairgrounds' new event field. In addition, the fair hosted 2 paid admission concerts at the Reaves Arena; The Band Perry and Lynyrd Skynyrd. Both were very well attended, according to Walker, and Lynyrd Skynyrd produced a sellout.
 
The fair also featured the Tower Stage presented by Windstream which featured acts such as Post Monroe, The Breakfast Club, Cazual, The Live Exchange Party Band, and Great White Lion Snake. This stage always drew a crowd and was a great option for guest to take a break from walking around the fairgrounds and enjoy some free entertainment. In addition to the numerous concerts provided, The Georgia National Fair provided several strolling and static acts for guests (especially families) to enjoy. Strolling acts included: The Fritters, The Procrastinators, Stilt Circus and many other. The static acts included: Mutton Bustin', Zu Zu African Acrobats, Kids Science Safari and several more.
 
There were about 100 vendors at the 2016 Georgia National Fair: some new and some veterans. One of the new big hits was Cedar River Seafood. Walker said that there was always a large line at that booth and they brought new and unique foods to the fair. Steak tips and the Granny Smith Apple Booth provided "true Southern food" for fairgoers and always do very well at the fair says Walker. Some other tried and true favorites were the Wisconsin cheese curds as well as cotton candy, popcorn, and candy apples. 
 
The Georgia National Fair aims to advertise all over the state of Georgia in order to pull a large, diverse crowd. The marketing team spends the bulk of their advertising budget on television spots, radio ads, and live interviews with local news stations. The Georgia National Fair is one of the largest events in the state of Georgia, so garnering coverage from news stations, radio stations, and television stations  is not difficult. The fair has a great relationship with many of the media outlets all over Georgia. Walker says that the fair still spends some of their budget on print advertising such as travel guides and newspapers but it is definitely spending more time and money on digital platforms such as Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter. The Georgia National Fair receives some state support for the fair each year but is largely self-sufficient.



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