The Columbia County fairgrounds came to life Thursday as families bounded through the gates, rides began their whimsical motions and the voices of fair announcers boomed across the grounds.
Brightly colored flags stood stiffly in the breeze as Megan Weathers, the 2007 Columbia County Fair Queen, cut the ribbon to open the 42nd annual Fall Fair, presented by the Merchants Association of Columbia County.
Hailey Guzman, 2, could barely contain her glee as she squealed and pointed at the giant colorful ferris wheel during a last-minute trip to the fair with her brother, Christopher, 4.
"She did it from the moment she saw the rides," Hailey's mother, Marie, said. She and her husband, Christian, of Grovetown, were driving past the fair and decided to treat the kids to a fun-filled evening.
The Guzmans had plenty of family fun to enjoy with rows of carnival rides decorated with colorful plush prizes, a slew of children's rides and even some for the adults including the Megadrop, a new ride that drops thrill-seekers 150 feet.
Other new attractions this year include Robinson's Racing Pigs and Robinson's Peddlin' Porkers, which is a show with pigs who race and dive into water and swim. All the King's Horses Show also is a new addition.
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.
Other annual events include the petting zoo, chainsaw sculpting and nightly live musical entertainment.
The fair runs through Saturday at the fairground in Columbia Road, with gate admission $5 and nightly specials being offered.
For members of the Merchants Association, the best part of the fair is giving away money to charities the group supports.
"We as the Merchants Association just feel thankful to be in a place like Columbia County where we can meet each time and have the support of our community in our fairs and what we put on," President Bobby Harrington said. "Hopefully between what the public can do and what the merchants can do, we can make this place a little better place to live."
At the ribbon-cutting, Harrington handed out nearly $19,000 in checks to local organizations including the Martinez-Evans Little League, Columbia County Cares food pantry, the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation, Easter Seals and the Columbia County Foundation for Children.
"Our merchants association, the funds we raise goes back into the community either in the way of charities we are going to recognize today, we give scholarships to each one of the high schools in the county every year," Harrington said at the ribbon-cutting. "What we don't put back into charity and the community goes back into the development of this property for the use of everybody in Columbia County."
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