Ga. National Fair wraps up

pramati@macon.comOctober 14, 2012 

PERRY -- After spending the whole year planning the 11-day Georgia National Fair, organizers are already looking forward to the 2013 event.

That’s because during the past 11 days, organizers have been taking mental notes as to what has been working and what hasn’t this year, said Michele Treptow, director of communications for the fair.

“We do it while the fair is going on, continually taking notes,” she said. “We’ll have staff meetings to review this year. We have a meeting Tuesday.”

Organizers won’t be taking any time off until then. Treptow said workers will begin cleaning things up as the last people leave Sunday night, with many rides set to be broken down and much of the equipment and stalls to be packed up.

“You’d be amazed at what is gone (by Sunday night),” Treptow said.

Organizers will be spending part of Monday calculating the final attendance. Treptow said the opening weekend was slow and both Saturday night concerts didn’t come close to selling out, but thanks to perfect weather throughout the 11 days, organizers hope the final number will be within range of last year’s attendance of nearly 440,000.

“Each year we try to get to the level of the previous year,” she said.

Merchants at the fair said the level of business ranged between consistent with previous years and disappointing.

Terry Horn, an Alabama-based casual wear dealer, said he’s been coming to the fair for the past 20 years, and it’s one of the best stops on the festival circuit for him.

“I think it’s been a good year,” he said. “The weather has been great. Everyone is exceptionally well-mannered and in a good mood. That’s a good thing. It’s clean, with nice people. It’s a well-run, well-managed fair. Business has been good.”

But Irma Houpt of Warner Robins, who first set up her booth for homemade jewelry and wares last year, said she was disappointed in this year’s sales numbers.

“It’s been a very slow thing,” she said. “Last year, I was smoking (in sales).”

Houpt said she has been attending the fair as a customer for 20 years and still enjoys the atmosphere.

“This is the biggest fair I’ve been to,” she said. “The demographics are good here. They cater to everyone of all ages.”

Latasha Franklin of Macon attended Sunday with her husband and two sons. She said they’ve been going to the fair every October for the past few years. Usually, they wait until the final day of the fair, because “it’s more economical.”

“We come for the food, mostly,” she said, noting that the family searches all of the booths to find who has the best corndogs that day. “We like the rides, and the boys like the games. We see different things each year.”

Brian Welford of Warner Robins also is a long-time attendee with his wife and two sons. He said it seems to get bigger each year.

“It looks like there are more people,” he said. “At least, to me it does.”

Welford said he personally enjoys the fresh-squeezed lemonade and funnel cakes the best, while his family likes the whole fair itself, including such things as live music.

“We always have a good time when we come out,” he said. “The kids really enjoy it.”

To contact writer Phillip Ramati, call 744-4334.

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