Today at the Fair
4 p.m. — Gates open
ADMISSION — $5.
MOONLIGHT MADNESS — Wrist stamps sold 8 p.m. to 1 a.m. ONLY — $15 stamp unlimited rides
ENTERTAINMENT — All exhibits open; nightly pig races, Pirates thrill show, “School of Rock”: soft rock by four local bands
Fair expected to draw record crowds
When Statesboro Kiwanis Club member Ricky Helton handed Bulloch Couhty Sheriff Lynn Anderson a check for $1,000 Thursday during the club's weekly meeting, it served as a prime example of why the club has the annual Kiwanis Ogeechee Fair.
Monday was the first day of the 50th anniversary of the Fair. With free admission, the night had a record crowd. Tuesday's rain dampened things a bit, and Wednesday's cold breeze kept the crowds low, but Thursday, the fairgrounds were packed tightly as people took advantage of the weather and the annual Bulloch County event.
The Fair is held as the club's main fund raiser, and money if filtered back into the community through donations.
"Your organization is the only one that gives us monetary donations for this," Anderson said as he accepted the check to be used for the Sheriff's Department Child ID program.
Fair Chairman Don Poe said the week might have started out slow, but expected the later part of the week will draw record crowds.
Tonight, wrist bands will be sold for $15 from 8 p.m. to 1 a.m., allowing bearers unlimited rides. Saturday, wrist stamps will be sold all day long for $20, with gates open at 1 p.m., he said.
The aisles were crowded, with people of all walks of life packed as tightly as canned sardines, waiting.
Whether it was for a funnel cake smothered in powdered sugar, a sausage dog with peppers and onions, a fried fish sandwich or some fresh fried pork skins, everyone in the Heritage Village food court at the Kiwanis Ogeechee Fair Thursday was hungry.
Lines wound around each other as people stood waiting their turn at one of several booths offering mouth-watering delights. Elbows prodded pathways as some walked to a less crowded area as they carried a steaming hamburger, hotdog or fries, and drinks were held closely as the crowd milled.
Was it worth it?
Yes, said Jacob Hiers, an Atlanta man here to attend Georgia Southern University. He came to the Fair Thursday to have fun, but chose the Heritage Village food court because of the food.
"It's a good rice, and home cooking, which I don't get very often," he said.
His friend Kyle Correll agreed. "I came here for the food and the carnival atmosphere," he said. "The prices are better, and it's for a better cause."
The food booths in the court aren't affiliated with the Statesboro Kiwanis Club, nor are they part of the Amusements of America midway.
Local churches, businesses and other groups rent space each year in order to offer corn dogs, candy apples and other items. Sometimes the booths are sold out months before the fair arrives, according to Fair Chairman Don Poe.
As others took orders, Rhonda Jackson of J&J Catering filled the orders quickly. Taking a split second to talk, she said her involvement with the fair booth began as a church fundraiser and now is " a good way to promote the business."
Dishing up sausages with peppers and onions, hot wings, cheeseburgers and fries, she said the booth focuses on traditional fair food.
"Business is steady," she said. "It makes good money.
Kenny Mikell stood back as he waited for an order from his own church's booth. His parents were working hard in the small kitchen area, and he anticipated enjoying the "good home cooking."
"We've been doing this at least six years," he said, referring to Stevens Temple Kitchen, the church booth. "The money goes to youth camp, the deacons' board and the whole church for activities."
The alley was filled with tantalizing scents — cotton candy, funnel cakes, hot dogs, fried fish, chicken livers. Some ventured out and offered turkey legs, chili, and one group sold shrimp wraps; tortillas filled with grilled shrimp, thinly sliced Polish sausage, grilled onions and peppers and alfredo sauce if you wanted.
Leona Gerrald, of L&D Produce, said she has been operating a booth at the Fair for 23 years.
They focused on peanuts — boiled and roasted; pork skins, candy apples, caramel apples and a variety of drinks. "We started out in the tiny booth over there," she said, pointing at the smallest area — "to pay our taxes." They operate the largest booth in the court now.
Lisa Akers said she has been attending the fair for years and chooses to buy food from the Heritage Village court because "It's local, and we support the local businesses." What was she in line to get? Why, funnel cakes, of course!
Holli Deal Bragg may be reached at (912) 489-9414.