A sure sign that autumn has arrived is the swirling carnival midway lights and smell of cotton candy and funnel cakes that come with the annual fall fair.
The Columbia County Fairgrounds will be filled with both Thursday as the Merchants Association of Columbia County opens the gates for the 42nd annual Columbia County Fair.
The fair, which runs through Nov. 10, will be held at the Columbia County Fairgrounds on Columbia Road across from Patriots Park.
Drew Expositions, which is providing the midway for the fifth consecutive year, will offer classic rides including the Tilt-A-Whirl, Himalaya, the Sizzler and the Tornado. Fair attendees also will get to fall 150 feet on the newly added Mega Drop.
"That is a pretty awesome ride," said Mike Zapata, fair chairman and former Merchants Association president. About 35,000 people attended the 2006 fair, Zapata said.
The merchants association also has added a few new nightly attractions to this year's fair, including the Robinson's Racing Pigs and the Peddlin' Porkers, which is a show with pigs who race and dive into water and swim, Zapata said. All the King's Horses Show also is a new addition.
Brian Ruth, a master chainsaw carver, will be demonstrating his talent nightly.
"He'll do three pieces every night that we'll auction off at the end of the fair," Zapata said, adding that money raised at the auction will go toward the Merchants Association charities and projects. "He does some awesome pieces."
Amateur entertainers are invited to perform for the crowds Monday during Apollo Night. A karaoke Apollo Night for children 12 and under will be Tuesday. Preregistration is required and can be done by calling (706) 860-8600.
The fair is the largest fund raiser for the Merchants Association, which provides annual college scholarships to Columbia County graduates and supports charities such as the Columbia County Foundation for Children, the Red Cross, Camp Rainbow, Project Wish and the Children's Miracle Network.
All proceeds will go to those charities or toward upgrades to the fairgrounds, including more restrooms and a building expansion, Zapata said.
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