The smells of cotton candy and funnel cakes, the sounds of giggling and squealing children, and the swirling carnival midway lights.
All will fill the Columbia County Fairgrounds this week as the Merchants Association of Columbia County opens the gates Thursday for the 40th annual Columbia County Fall Fair.
The fair, which runs though Saturday, Nov. 12, will be held at the Columbia County Fairgrounds on Columbia Road across from Patriots Park.
Drew Expositions, which is providing the midway for the third year in a row, will offer such classic rides as the Tilt-A-Whirl, Chainsaw, the Sizzler and the Tornado. The merchants association also has added a few new attractions to this year's fair including The Bear Mountain Show.
"The Bear Show ... (has) got bears doing different things and all, then also it's got an education part on the Bear Show, too, where they tell about the bears and what all they do," said Mike Zapata, fair chairman and past Merchants Association president.
A high-flying aerial circus act also will headline this year's fair with daily shows, Merchants Association President Ben Ivey said.
"We're having Victorious Circus, which is trapeze and high-wire and all that stuff. We didn't have that last year," Ivey said. The aerial show will replace last year's animal circus.
Amateur entertainers will have their shot to wow the crowds on Apollo Night on Tuesday, Zapata said. Local acts are invited to sign up and perform.
"It's something new we're going to try," Zapata said. "It's like the Apollo. You get all those folks come by and get on the stage and do their thing, whether they get booed off the stage, swept out, or pulled out by the cane or whatever ... We're going to find out what talent we've got around here."
The grand prize for the Apollo Night winner is $100 and fair ride tickets, Zapata said.
Those wishing to perform should preregister by calling Stewart Ray at Center Stage Music at 860-8600 or by visiting the store at 3830 Washington Road in the West Town Shopping Center in Martinez.
Fair favorites such as David "The Bullet" Smith as the human cannonball performing at 7 and 9 p.m. Monday-Saturday and 3, 6 and 9 p.m. on Sunday; a petting zoo, 4-H exhibits, crafts and nightly entertainment also will be offered.
Drew Exposition, which formerly provided the midway for the Augusta fair, will be sending the Rockin' Tug, a new children's ride that rocks and rotates giving its young riders the sensation of riding ocean waves.
The company's move to the Columbia County Fair has been a successful one, Zapata said.
"It's working out real well. It's very clean and they've got excellent rides. It's a very clean show," Zapata said.
The fair is the largest fund-raiser for the Merchants Association, which supports charities such as the Columbia County Foundation for Children, the Red Cross, Camp Rainbow, Project Wish and the Children's Miracle Network.
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