Fall is here, which means it won't be long before the neon lights of the Columbia County Fall Fair are glowing against the night sky.
The Merchants Association of Columbia County will open the fairground gates Thursday for 10 days of games, rides and family fun.
"It is the best G-rated fun you'll have," said Pam Randall, Merchants Association president.
Gates at the fairgrounds on Columbia Road open at 5 p.m. Thursday for Dollar Day. Admission, rides and some games and food cost $1. The fair will run through Nov. 13.
Live nightly entertainment includes musical groups such as Tony Howard and the Motown Review and a new attraction, JUMP! The Ultimate Dog Show. A popular act, the Sea Lion Splash show, and a petting zoo will be returning.
"The kids can get their picture taken with the seal," Randall said. "It was popular (in 2009)."
Also returning is Brian Ruth, the chainsaw carver. His works will be auctioned off on the last day of the fair.
"He always comes in and brings something new," Randall said. "He's popular."
Drew Exposition has provided the midway attractions, including food, games and rides, since 2003. Drew will set up a new ride, Tea Time, and old favorites such as the Pirate Ship and the Himalayan, said Jim Drew, the midway operator.
"There's some special rides made over the years; you can't get rid of them," Drew said. "People love them."
Randall said that even though rain plagued the fair in 2009, about 40,000 people enjoyed the festivities. Rain won't dampen this fair as much this year because fairgoers can enjoy the newly paved midway.
"We'll still have some dirt, but not as much," Randall said.
Singers can compete to win gate passes and prize money at one of two Apollo Nights. Performers 12 and under will perform Nov. 9, and those 13 and older will perform Nov. 11.
Those interested must register in advance by calling (706) 860-8600.
The Merchants Association will be collecting for Toys for Tots on Nov. 10. A new unwrapped toy donation gets patrons free admission and unlimited ride passes for $15, Randall said.
The fair is open 5-11 p.m. Monday through 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.
"Even if you don't ride, the shows and the entertainment are worth the price," Randall said.
For information, or to view daily specials and entertainment, visit www.columbiacountyfair.net.
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