Another fair has come and gone, leaving behind acres of tramped parking lot and empty grounds. However, there is something left behind besides memories; the fair generated six figures in funds that will benefit a host of local charities.
Through entry fees; money from purchasing pancake and sausage plates, and other things like booth rental fees, the incoming profit annually can reach into the hundreds of thousands, according to the Statesboro Kiwanis Club’s website, www.statesboro.kiwanisone.org.
”We give it away,” said Statesboro Kiwanis Club President Alex Grovenstein. “We give it away after we pay all expenses for all of the events. This is why we have existed for 55 years.”
The Statesboro Kiwanis Club was chartered in 1960 with 28 members. One of the objectives of the club was community service, according to the website.
It all began in 1962 when the “B's Old Reliable Carnival” came to Statesboro after its scheduled appearance in Evans County was cancelled. At a Statesboro resident’s suggestion, they contacted the new Statesboro Kiwanis club. They held the fair, but in 1963, “some city officials complained and the Statesboro mayor denied the traveling carnival permission to hold the fair inside the city limits,” according to the site.
But, “Statesboro Kiwanis club members felt that they owed it to the community who could not travel to larger fairs across the state to host a local alternative. Also, kids didn't have a local venue for showing off livestock they had raised, and members felt they needed that opportunity,” the site’s history reads. “Bulloch County Commissioners agreed and gave permission to proceed. The fair was held at Parker's Stockyard on Stockyard Road, just 50 yards outside the city limits.”
In 964 the “fair was held in a peanut field at the corner of West Main and Stockyard Road. A hurricane came through and damaged some of the exhibits.” The next year, Statesboro Kiwanis Club members bought the current location, which has expanded a great deal over the years from the original 28 acre peanut field on Hwy. 67. The Pancake House was constructed in 1969 and is a major reason many attend the fair, where they can also purchase site-made cane syrup.
“Like Kiwanians before us, we carry on the tradition” of raising money for local charities, Grovenstein said. “I know of some charities who build their budget on what they get from Kiwanis. They really count on it.”
The fair brings several hundreds of thousands of dollars into the community, which goes directly back into the community through donations, sponsorships, scholarships and more.
The club donates to a diverse group of charities and agencies. They donate to local law enforcement agencies for drug education programs and free fingerprint programs; and donations are made annually to entities such as Ogeechee Area Hospice, Habitat for Humanity, scholarships for Georgia Southern University students, the Boys and Girls Club of Bulloch County; area boys homes, the American Red Cross, local schools, and a more.
The fair serves seven counties; Candler, Screven. Bulloch, Bryan, Jenkins, Tattnall and Evans counties.
The club also supports Kiwanis International’s “Eliminate Project,” which targets the elimination of neonatal tetanus, Grovenstein said. Ten years ago, the Kiwanis International achieved its goal of elimination iodine deficiency and turned its attention to the new cause, he said.
Holli Deal Saxon may be reached at (912) 489-9414.