As Georgia National Fair nears, officials discuss weather, money, safety

awoolen@macon.comSeptember 11, 2013 

PERRY -- Weather, money and safety were of primary concern for the Georgia National Fair at Wednesday’s Georgia Agricultural Exposition Authority meeting.

Good weather could mean record attendance, as it has for other fairs this year, Executive Director Randy Moore said.

“Americans are responding to fairs very strongly,” he said.

The Georgia National Fair will be held Oct. 3-13. Gov. Nathan Deal will be the keynote speaker for the opening ceremony, which is at 4 p.m. Oct. 3 in Reaves Arena.

A free concert the same day will start at 7 p.m. and feature doo-wop bands The Coasters, The Platters and The Drifters.

The Georgia National Fairgrounds and Agricenter will have to dip into the fair deposits to cover monthly expenses, as it has for several years due to expenditures needed to get ready for the fair, according to Ronald Goldsby, chief administrative officer and comptroller. The fair expenses total about $600,000 for both August and September with additonal supplies, personnel and advertising.

“It’s not unusual,” Goldsby said of having to use the cash from fair vendors for these two months.

Concert sales have been “good” so far with Hunter Hayes at 44 percent sold out and Justin Moore at 24.9 percent, Goldsby said. They perform Oct. 5 and 12, respectively, both at 7:30 p.m. The $30 ticket includes gate admission for the fair.

Livestock entries for the fair total 4,998, and the fine arts entries are at 9,516. About 3,500 of the fine arts entries are from youth, according to Moore.

As part of the agricultural experience, the Legislative Livestock Showdown, featuring Georgia legislators judged on their animal handling abilities, will be held Oct. 5 about 4 p.m. after the heifer show.

In an effort to keep the fair safe, all bags entering the fairgrounds will be searched. Once a bag has been searched, a colored zip tie will be placed on the bag to let law enforcement know it has been checked.

Stephen Shimp, public safety director, said he is adding extra personnel at each gate to conduct the searches.

“Everyone has jumped on board with that,” he said of the local law enforcement officers who will assist the fair during its 11-day run.

The tents will start to arrive Sept. 21 to set up for the fair.

The dirt in Reaves Arena is being removed this week, and on Monday crews will start pressure washing the inside to get ready for the concerts.

“Hopefully we’ll have a great fair and go into the rest of the year in a good financial position,” Goldsby said.

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