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State of the fair

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Historically, the last couple nights of the Kiwanis Ogeechee Fair are the biggest regarding the number of folks who visit the annual event. If this is the case again this year, the Statesboro Kiwanis Club may be seeing record numbers.
    This is a good thing, considering every penny of the money they take in, after expenses, is filtered back into the community via donations to a wide variety of causes.
    Great weather may have played a part in the increase in gate attendance and midway visitors, but the vast array of attractions likely drew a larger crowd than usual, said Fair Chairman Darrell Colson Thursday during the club's weekly meeting.
    As always during the fair week, the club meets in the Kiwanis Pancake House, where the folks from Amusements of America provide lunch. It is a way for the midway workers to thank the Kiwanis Club and others who extend hospitality while they are in town, said Dominic Vivona, who owns the company along with his five brothers.
    During the meeting, Colson said the number of people passing through the gates into the fairground the first part of the week was up 25 percent. Midway ticket sales were up 40 percent, he said.
    "Right now, it's all looking good. The weather is going great," he said.
    Every year during fair week Kiwanians keep a watchful eye out for rain, which dampens the carnival atmosphere and keeps folks away. This year, the clouds sprinkled a little Monday, but not enough to keep away hordes of folk eager to ride, see exhibits and enjoy food found only at the fair, such as deep fried Twinkies.
    "The midway is clean and looks great," Colson said. Vivona told the group he felt placing the kiddie rides close to Ga. 67 is an attraction and gives folks a glimpse of the fun to be found inside the grounds.
    Some fair visitors may have missed the petting zoo, which was not included this year due to insurance reasons. However, the Fearless Flores Circus Thrill Show has been extremely popular.
    "The thrill show has been great," Colson said. "Every time we go back there, there is a crowd."
    Vivona, whose company has been working with the Statesboro Kiwanis Club for 28 years, thanked the club for its cooperation.
    "We're a good marriage," he said. "I bring in the show and you guys do everything else."
    He introduced several employees who work behind the scenes, as well as family members. The Amusements of America company is a family-run business and several members of the Vivona family operate different rides or concessions stands in the midway.
    The Vivonas provided fried chicken, salad, corn on the cob, green beans, potato salad, Italian sausages with grilled peppers and onions and more. The Circle K Club, an affiliate of Kiwanis, provided barbecue as well.
    "I'm really proud to be part of your fair," Vivona said.
    "Before he's gone this week, we're signing another contract," Colson said.
    Colson reminded club members that tonight and Saturday will be the busiest for the fair.
    Tonight is Midnight Madness. Gates open today at 4 p.m., with wrist stamps available after 10 p.m. for $15. Admission is $5 but will be free after 10 p.m., Colson said.
    Saturday, gates open at 1 a.m. and wrist stamps will be available all day for $18. The wrist stamps enable a bearer to ride any ride, as many times as he wishes.
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