The aroma of funnel cake and glowing neon lights mean one thing: The Columbia County Fall Fair has arrived.
The Merchants Association of Columbia County will open the fairground gates Thursday for 10 days of games, rides and family fun.
"We're looking forward to everybody coming out," said Pam Randall, Merchants Association president.
Gates at the fairgrounds on Columbia Road open at 5 p.m. for Dollar Day, when admission, rides, games and food cost $1 each. The festivities will continue through Nov. 14.
Nightly entertainment starts at 7 p.m. and includes master chainsaw carver Brian Ruth, whose works will be auctioned off the last day of the fair, a sea lion show, a petting zoo and the return of the King BMX Bike Stunt Show.
"The kids really love that," Randall said of the cyclists.
Drew Expositions will operate the rides, which include favorites such as the Ring of Fire roller coaster, the Himalaya, the Scrambler, the Seattle Wheel and the Mega-Drop.
"The older kids love that one," Randall said.
New this year is the Enterprise, which twirls riders upside down and around.
Randall said fair patrons can test their star power with the Xtreme Boogie Bodies, in which their faces and voices are superimposed into a music video.
Singers can compete to win gate passes and prize money at one of the two Apollo Nights. Performers 12 and under will perform Nov. 10, and those 13 and older will perform Nov. 12.
Those interested must pre-register by calling Center Stage Music at (706) 860-8600.
Anyone interested in reality television can fill out an application for the Nov. 8 Big Brother casting call. More information and applications can be found at www.wrdw.com.
The Merchants Association will be collecting Toys for Tots on Nov. 9. A new unwrapped toy donation gets patrons free admission and unlimited ride passes for $15, Randall said.
Randall said based on ticket sales, she estimates that nearly 40,000 people attended last year's fair.
The fair is open 5-11 p.m. Monday-Thursday; noon to midnight Saturday; and 1 p.m. until no later than 11 p.m. Sunday. Regular gate admission is $5, but admission prices vary with daily specials.
For information, visit www.columbiacountyfair.net.
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