Rides whirred to life while carnival music played as the 44th annual Columbia County fair opened Thursday on the first of its 10-day stint.
Anxious fair-goers lined up outside the gate. Joshua Caldwell, 6, of Grovetown, was first in line. He'd been good in school so could attend on opening day.
Joshua was headed for the Super Slide first.
But 4-year-old Brantavion Brinkley, of Augusta, kicked at rocks while anticipating his destination.
"I'm going to ride the motorcycles," he said.
Gates at the fairgrounds on Columbia Road opened at 5 p.m., and families poured onto the midway, provided by Drew Expositions.
McKenna Palmer, 5, and her step-sister, Linsey Dominick, 6, swirled around and around on the flying clown fish ride. But the pair knew exactly where they'd go next.
"We're going to do everything," McKenna said.
And the girls had plenty of activities to choose from with rows of carnival rides decorated with colorful plush prizes, a slew of children's rides and even some for the adults, including the Enterprise, a new ride that twirls riders upside down.
Other new attractions this year include the Sea Lion Splash, a show featuring the marine mammals, and Xtreme Boogie Bodies, in which participants' faces and voices are superimposed into a music video.
Popular returning attractions include the King BMX Bike Show, chainsaw carver Brian Ruth, and a petting zoo along with lots of classic rides, such as the Tilt-A-Whirl, Himalaya, Sizzler and the Tornado.
The fair runs through Saturday at the fairgrounds on Columbia Road, with $5 gate admission and nightly specials.
The Columbia County Merchants Association members enjoy putting on the fair, but also raising funds for the charities they support annually.
The association handed out more than $31,000 at the opening ceremony to area charities, including the American Red Cross, the Make-A-Wish Foundation, Columbia County Cares, and $14,000 in scholarships to area high school students.
"What they (charities) do to help the community goes beyond words," Merchants Association President Pam Randall said as she passed out the checks. "We thank you for all you do."
For information about the Columbia County Fall Fair, visit www.columbiacountyfair.net.
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