From the ribbon-cutting ceremony Thursday to the last turn of the Seattle Wheel Nov. 8, the Columbia County Merchants Association Fair promises to be an extended week of thrills, fun and games for our community.
Just the atmosphere of everyone congregating to have a good time is what brings people to the fair, says Mike Zapata, president of the Merchants Association. This is the 38th year that the venerable organization has been bringing the fair to Columbia County, and it has grown bigger and better every year.
This year brings what may be the biggest coup yet: James H. Drew Expositions will operate the ever-popular midway, delivering fun and games in a safe atmosphere to thousands of children of all ages.
The well-publicized split with Augustas older Exchange Club Fair temporarily left Augusta-based Drew without its traditional season-ending show. The Merchants Association quickly shifted their fair to accommodate Drews schedule, and brought the big-name operator to Columbia County.
The publicity regarding Drew hasnt all been good lately, we know: There was a bribery scandal in North Carolina, and a Drew ride injury in north Georgia. The danger is that casual readers wont notice that the bribery case involved a greedy public official squeezing under-the-table contributions from state fair operators; and the mishandled ride at the Cumming Country Fair isnt being set up here.
Locals instead will be reassured by knowing from experience that the Merchants Association is a class act, an entirely privately run organization of businessmen and women who understand that you dont operate a popular attraction for nearly four decades with shoddy work and lax oversight.
Columbia Countys fair has grown precisely because the Merchants Association has established a standard of trust with the community. Moreover, the Merchants Association has shared the fairs success. Its fair pageant gives scholarships to the young competitors, and the association is a generous contributor to local charities.
Those funds continue to flow because the fair is successful, and its successful precisely because the Merchants Association, year after year, places a high value on its regard for the community that in turn responds with its attendance.
Besides: Its a lot of fun. See you at the fair!
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