Ride prices at Georgia National Fair to increase after state funding cut

awoolen@macon.comApril 10, 2013 

PERRY -- With state funding for the Georgia National Fairgrounds and Agricenter cut by 11 percent this year and 25 percent in fiscal 2014, its overseeing board voted Wednesday to increase the price of tickets for midway rides at the Georgia National Fair.

Among the tickets that will see a price increase are the armbands, which will go from $16 to $20 on the opening and closing days and Oct. 7-10.

The change comes shortly after a decision in September to raise gate prices from $8 to $10 for this year’s fair, which runs Oct. 3-13.

“This is the economic reality we are facing,” Randy Moore, executive director for the agricenter, said at the meeting of the Georgia Agricultural Exposition Authority in Perry.

The move is expected to generate about $300,000 in revenue for the agricenter, giving it enough to make up most of the difference in the state’s budget cut. The amount is based on having the same number of ticket sales as the 2012 fair.

The original amount in state support for this year was $1,285,000 and was reduced by $140,000 in the amended budget.

For fiscal 2014, which starts July 1, an additional $330,000 will be cut, said Ronald Goldsby, chief administrative office and comptroller.

He said this is the 10th budget cycle in which the state has reduced its support.

“I think it’s a tool they are using toward self-sufficiency,” Goldsby said.

Goldsby estimated the state’s support for the agricenter at 13.6 percent for 2013.

Other fairs in the Southeast raised their rates a few years ago, and the Georgia National Fair had the cheapest ride price for its size, Moore said.

“I don’t know what the alternative is at this point,” he said about raising the rates.

Moore pointed out the staff has been reduced from 86 to 51 employees, who have taken furloughs.

Furloughs and layoffs would not make up for the cuts from the state, he said.

The board debated for almost an hour about the price increases before coming to a unanimous decision to approve them.

Also approved was a motion for the city of Perry to take control of the wastewater management at the site.

There were two primary concerns for the city, which were the toxicity of the wastewater going into the water treatment center and the volume of water, said city manager Lee Gilmour.

The city will write up an agreement to present at the next board meeting. The proposal will include inspection, monitoring and recommendations for the center.

Currently, the fairgrounds spends between $60,000 and $65,000 on annual sewage fees.

With the help of board member John Hulsey, the fairgrounds also is trying to secure a National Cutting Horse Association show from promoter Della Hillerman.

“We could expect a huge turnout,” Hulsey said.

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