The Merchants Association of Columbia County is preparing to kick off its annual fund-raiser that organizers hope the entire community enjoys - the 37th annual Columbia County Fair.
The fair, which attracted about 40,000 people last year, will open Sept. 26 and run through Oct. 5.
As always, the fair will feature carnival rides, games and lots of food. The 4-H has sponsored a display of youth exhibits for the past two years and began displaying adult projects last year.
"(The 4-H's participation) has been tremendously successful," said Bill Becton, association president. "Those kids, big and small, really take pride in the things that hey make up. You should see some of the exhibits they put on and the effort they put into them.
"I think this is real important to a child because it gives them something else to do besides watching MTV all the time or get involved with other things that are not as healthy for them in developing. When you have a project, whether it is an animal you are taking care of or a project you are working on, that helps you develop in life. It is really good for you."
Despite the fact there is not much agriculture in Columbia County, as the fair grows, the association expands more into agriculture. Last year, a goat show was held that attracted goat exhibitors from all over the state. A swine show has been added to the fair's repertoire this year.
"It will at least let the people here in Columbia County look at a live hog and see how a show goes on," Becton said. "We think it will be an interesting part of the fair."
If you go:
Fair runs from Sept. 26 through Oct. 5.
Monday-Thursday: 6 to 11 p.m. with Thrill Show at 7 and 9 p.m.
Friday: 6 p.m. to midnight with Thrill Show at 7 and 9 p.m.
Saturday: noon to midnight with Thrill Show at 2, 4, 8 and 10 p.m.
Sunday: 1 to 9 p.m. with Thrill Show at 3 and 6 p.m.
Cost: Includes admission, unlimited rides and the Thrill Show
Sunday-Thursday - $10
Friday and Saturday - $12
The goat show will be at 6 p.m. Sept. 27. The swine show will be at 6 p.m. Oct. 4.
Also, the Miss Columbia County Fair Scholarship Pageant will determine and award a $1,000 scholarship to the 2002 Miss Columbia County. The winner is the only pageant winner from the county and will represent Columbia County in Atlanta through the Georgia Association of Agriculture Fairs, Becton said.
The pageant will be Sept. 21, the weekend before the fair opens. The winner will participate in the ribbon-cutting and other fair events.
The fair is the major fund-raiser for the many charities the association donates to regularly.
"(The fair) has been successful. It has been good to us," Becton said.
At the fair's ribbon-cutting at 5:30 p.m. Sept. 26, the fair's first day, the association will present eight local charities with $1,000 checks. Those charities are: Columbia County Cares, the Make-A-Wish Foundation, Camp Rainbow, Martinez-Evans Little League, the Children's Miracle Network, Golden Harvest Food Bank, Easter Seals and the Red Cross.
The association was founded in 1962 with the goal of bettering the business community of the county. The association's goals have expanded since then to generally better the county.
The association is involved in numerous fund-raisers throughout the year, including a rodeo. They also gave $9,000 in scholarship money to the county's four high schools.
"Columbia County was founded and made great by its great school system and a lot of volunteers," Becton said. "That is where we come from and that is where we stand. We are just a bunch of vocational people that work. They are just working people that want to improve the county.
"It is just great to be a part of an organization that has been as successful as we have been."
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