Georgia State Fair leaving Macon for good

Staff reportOctober 21, 2013 

After more than 160 years in Macon, the Georgia State Fair has pulled up stakes and left town for good.

From now on, the fair will be held at the Atlanta Motor Speedway in Hampton, according to the fair’s website. This year’s fair begins there Friday.

“This town has lost an asset, a gem that for years took place in our midst,” said Hank Clark, a former member of the fair’s board of directors.

The historic fair began in Stone Mountain in 1846 before moving to Macon in 1851. The Exchange Club took over the fair’s operation in 1942 before Universal Fairs bought it and operated it for the first time in 2012.

The fall fair in Hampton a year ago “was so successful the State Fair decided to make the permanent move to the Speedway,” the statement on the fair’s website said in part.

Declining revenues in recent years hurt, and a four-day fair in Macon this past May drew less-than-hoped-for attendance.

For decades, the state fair was held in the fall and lasted 10 days, helping generate millions of dollars for charitable works. But the arrival of the Georgia National Fair in Perry in 1990 -- held each October -- began to take a toll.

No state fair was held in 2009, and in 2010 the fair was shifted to the spring to avoid competing with the national fair, held each October.

The first state fairs in Macon were held on the old fairgrounds just south of Seventh Street. In 1871, the fair moved to its permanent location at Central City Park in Macon. Extensive new facilities erected in 1871 at the park included an entrance gate, seven exposition buildings, a bandstand and a terraced river bank for viewing regattas.

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