Q&A with Randy Moore
City of Residence: Perry
Occupation: Executive director, Georgia Agricultural Exposition Authority
QUESTION: What was attendance like at this years Georgia National Fair?
ANSWER: Total attendance was 449,885, our second best year ever. The largest was in 2010 with 465,053.
QUESTION: What kind of workforce does it take to put on the fair?
ANSWER: Weve got 53 permanent employees, and at fair time we have 275 that run through our payroll. Plus, theres the Fair Cracker organization with 100 to 120 volunteers. They man the gates, information booths, pass out schedules and are there to assist fair-goers.
QUESTION: How many rides, shows, exhibits and such are at the fair?
ANSWER: This year there were 70 rides on the midway. We had 114 commercial vendors inside the McGill Building and 92 on the Independent Midway. Also on the Independent Midway there were 125 food vendors. On various stages we had 38 free entertainment acts, like the musical acts, high dive seals, the monkey show, the circus and all the entertainment included with entry price. Then there were two big-name ticketed concerts as well.
QUESTION: Do you and your staff get much sleep at fair time?
ANSWER: Very little. The day usually starts at 7 or 7:30 a.m. and doesnt end until 11:30 or beyond. Every day we run the fair plus compile numbers so we know how were performing. Its taxing mentally and physically, but we pray for a lot grace. Since the fair represents over 50 percent of our annual budget, its important we welcome the public every day with a smile and a great atmosphere. Im very proud of the exceptional effort of all our workers. Then, right after the fair we have our largest non-fair event with the National Barrel Horse Association, so we have to clean up and get going again right away.
QUESTION: Whats the most rewarding aspect of the fair to you?
ANSWER: That it gives the public a reasonably priced event where -- in these worrisome times -- they can get in touch with the sort of simple values and simple principles our society was built on. They can get in touch with the old-time work ethic. Its always a thrill to walk through the Murphy Building and see the talent Georgians have, whether its in fine arts, canning, woodworking or whatever -- it gives you confidence in who we are. Its important to remember and see people involved in agriculture and what is being produced and done in our state. I also enjoy that it provides an escape and some good, healthy entertainment.
QUESTION: Traditionally, state fairs have that agricultural element.
ANSWER: My definition of a fair is that agriculture is at its heart. If its just rides, its a carnival. The reason fairs began in this country was to show off the best bull or heifer or hog, to bring your award winning green beans and pies. People came to compete and showcase their talents and what they did all year. They reflected our American beliefs and showcased local differences from area to area and state to state. We may be a generation removed from our agricultural roots, but at one time we were all there. We need to remember and get in touch with those roots. Agriculture has changed, but its still the number one industry in Georgia, and it will be tomorrow, too.
QUESTION: And theres still a lot of competition at the fair.
ANSWER: Absolutely. Providing an opportunity for our 4-H and FFA kids is fundamental to what we do, so the events we host for them are very dear to our hearts. The young livestock presenters are amazing and show a great deal of talent, responsibility and maturity. I wish every young person could have that experience and benefit throughout their lifetime from what it teaches. Im proud to be a part of that. Theres an extremely high number of leaders in Georgia who have come through FFA and 4-H.
QUESTION: Have you started on next years fair?
ANSWER: Sure have. It will be our 25th, and we have some great plans already. Mark your calendars, its Oct. 2-12, 2014, and the theme is Georgia Grown.
Answers may have been edited for length and clarity. Compiled by Michael W. Pannell. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.