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Georgia National Fair Posts A Single Day High Record; Overall Attendance Down
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The Georgia National Fair in Perry, Ga., offered a stellar mix of music, carnival rides, and livestock exhibitions at its 34th outing. The 11-day fair ran October 5 through 15th, and fair public relations reported that approximately $42 million dollars in revenue were brought in for the region.

While the fair attendance fell a bit short of records set pre-pandemic in 2019, fair attendance did hit a single day highest-ever number of 43,594 visitors on its opening Friday. Overall attendance was 487,874, down about 50,000 from last year, due to wet weather mid-run.

Fair admission was $15 for those 11 and up with seniors priced at $10; kids aged 10 and under were free with a paying adult. Season passes were $95, and two day passes were priced at $25.

On the fair's large opening day, adults received a discounted entrance price of $10 with unlimited carnival ride armbands available for $25. 

There were several special discount admission days. On Oct. 9, Patriotic Day, military members with ID and their immediate family received free admission with ride armbands available for $25; the 10th and 11th were dubbed Terrific Tuesday and Wow Wednesday on which adults received a discounted $10 admission and $25 armbands for rides were also available.

On the fair's final day, Oct. 15th, the date bore the name Last Blast! with rides opening two hours earlier than their standard noon opening, running from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. Unlimited ride armbands were available for $30.

Music fans were on a natural high with free performances on the Georgia National stage by national acts such as Billy Ocean, Lee Greenwood, Smashmouth, Mark Chestnutt, and Georgia Female Artist of the Year Megan Fowler, among others. The nightly concerts took place at 7:30, with the exception of two special performance events on the main stage, the Rumba Latina and the Southside Worship which each began earlier in the evening. The fair also hosted a round of American Idol auditions for those who wanted to tackle the music world themselves.

As an extra bonus, to familiarize fairgoers with artists they may not have previously known, the fair offered a Spotify playlist of this year's talent allowing them to experience the music prior to seeing performers live on stage. 

Reithoffer Shows provided the fair's carnival in a partnership that has run as long as the fair has itself, 34 years. This year the family-owned company offered 90 rides for fair attendees. Popular attractions included the Super Himalaya, Starship 3000, Ice Jet, the Zipper, Fireball, The Hulk, New York New York, and of course the Giant Wheel. Three rides were new this year: Ice Jet, The Hulk and New York New York. The company also boasted double kiosks in several locations for easier ride armband distribution.

The carnival company additionally offered games and concessions such as turkey legs, cotton candy, corn dogs, and candy apples. Individual rides were priced at $1.25, with most rides requiring between 2 and 8 tickets; unlimited ride armbands were available on select weekdays and the fair's final Sunday and were all priced between $25 and $30. 

Fairgrounds marketing director Maggie Lane related that “Our team works hard to make every Fair experience memorable and unique…by combining traditional elements such as nightly fireworks shows and midway rides with new concerts, food options, and family-friendly entertainment…”

Fair food was plentiful, and along with standards like hot dogs and funnel cakes, specialty items were in abundance, such as Greek fries with feta and tzatziki sauce from Demetri's Greek Foods, a gator tail basket form Cedar River Seafoods, Cajun Sausage from Jake's Foods, Biscuits and Sausage pizza from Gillette's Pizza and Lemonade, loaded grits bowls from Fun Time Foods and Southern comfort grits form the Biscuit Barn. In addition, there were sweets that included a full range of flavors from Dippin' Dots, pralines from Bruce's Concessions, and Polar Bear Ice Cream's pumpkin spice ice cream sandwich, an apt sweet treat for an October fair.

Fair food vendors competed in a Fair Fun Food Fight, too, with winners this year including Judge's Choice recipients for Best Sweet, Ube Funnel Cake from Best Around Inc., and Best Savory, Bourbon Chicken & Rice, from Cox Concessions.

New roving entertainment was also plentiful this year, including Oscar the Robot, and a high-tech magic act. On stage and new were Steve Trash, the start of a PBS children's show called Steve Trash Science, featuring magic and comedy created with reclaimed items; and Cirque Zuma Zuma. The park's press release described the latter as “an African-style Cirque du Soleil” full of rapidly unfolding acrobatic action. Also new: the Disc Connected K9s, a touring Frisbee dog show choreographed to music. The participating agile canines were all rescue dogs with individual stories shared to the audience.

Of course, there were animal exhibitions including 4-H projects and livestock shows from grand champion dairy heifers to goats, swine, and sheep; while art, crafts, and home-baked goods were also in competition in the exhibit halls. Nightly fireworks were sparkling in the skies even when the weather was damp. The Georgia National Flower Show was another big draw, as were Tech Day competitions held in the arena.

Another highlight, especially for kids, was the Eudora Farms Petting Zoo, a returning fair favorite with over 55 animals including those more exotic than the typical baby goats, such as camels and llamas. 

The Agrilift Sky Rides provided easy gliding across the fairgrounds, sponsored by Ford Motor Company. The costumed Fair Bear mascot was available for photo ops with fair attendees,and vendors offered a wide range of products for everything from cleaning to hair styling.

Fairgrounds executive director Stephen Shimp offered a hearty "Thank you to this community, our law enforcement and first response partners, fair volunteers and staff, the state of Georgia, corporate partners, livestock exhibitors, and of course, our faithful fairgoers…this event continues to be a success because of the people who love it and attend year after year."
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