The handwriting has been on the wall for 23 years; Monday it became official. The State Fair that had operated in Macon for 162 years entered a new chapter of its life, which began in 1846. That chapter doesn’t include Macon.
The countdown to this day started before the Georgia National Fairgrounds opened in Perry in 1990. The Perry fairgrounds featured larger venues, more and better parking, paved rather than dirt access, and it could afford to bring in nationally known entertainment. Some thought the State Fair could hang in and compete with its larger cousin, but that was not to be. Both fairs were set for the fall season. Eventually, the State Fair, seeing its audience and revenue drop, tried the spring, but the move didn’t work. The Macon Exchange Club, which had operated the fair since 1942 and donated millions of dollars to local charities, read the handwriting on the wall, too, but continued on, not without interruption, until it sold the State Fair to Universal Fairs based in Tennessee two years ago.
Universal Fairs has announced that it’s permanently moving the State Fair to the Atlanta Motor Speedway’s 887-acre site in Hampton. The State Fair had a good run in Macon, but times and circumstances change. Still, we can fondly look back at all the good the fair brought to Macon in its heyday. All the memories from the first kiss at the top of the Ferris wheel to the influx of 4-Hers with their animals and their smells. The fair spawned personalities galore but at its base were the hard-working residents of this community. The job they undertook was for the betterment of this community. Those things have a lasting impact that can’t be erased by time.