1st Place: Charter Conservatory
2nd Place: The Haunted Forest
3rd Place: Kids World Learning Center
4th Place: Southern Manor Retirement Inn
5th Place: LifeWay Church of God
The Kiwanis Ogeechee Fair Parade Monday was one of the largest and most successful in the Statesboro Kiwanis Club's history.
More than 2,800 people and 152 entries participated in the annual kickoff to "fair week" in Bulloch County, said parade chairman Charles Sheets.
There were fire trucks, classic cars, beauty queens and marching bands. There were children's sports teams, dance groups, child-care facilities and churches. Some rode on or walked beside gaily decorated floats, some of which adhered to the parade theme "Farming: Made in the USA," which reflects the fair's agricultural history.
The floats and entries varied in appearance, but all involved in the parade showed excitement and joy as they marched, rode, or drove down Statesboro's main streets.
A local woman, Lanelle Barber, dressed as a clown in a motorized scooter. Some of her grandchildren dressed up as autumn clowns as well, with one pulling another in a decorated wagon.
One of many local dance schools, the Helen Redding School of Dance entered a float carrying several students, dressed for dancing. Redding said her school has participated in the parade each year for more than 40 years.
Creativity flowed when it came to the floats. Statesboro and Bulloch County's Splash in the Boro water park float was decorated like a swimming pool, and Mill Creek Regional Park's sports teams rode in a float decorated with a goalpost. Several entries were decorated with big red barns, cotton stalks, and hay bales, and one float featured a miniature roadside produce stand.
Sheets said the turnout was excellent.
The sidewalks and parking lots along the parade route were overflowing with spectators. Some were there to cheer friends and relatives on, some were there for the candy and other handouts participants offered, and others were there just to see the sights.
"My niece is in the 12th grade at Statesboro High School," said Shalmika Hill. "I came to see her march for the last time."
Hill said she was impressed with the parade.
"I liked it," she said. "I didn't know there were so many youth groups here in Statesboro."
One of the most notable floats decorated with the agriculture theme was by Charter Conservatory, a Statesboro public school that is not affiliated with the Bulloch County school system. A corn cob silo and barnyard scene brought the theme home.
It was followed by giant walking jars of jams and jellies from Braswell's, a local factory that uses a great deal of local produce in its products.
Spectators laughed as the Quint Shrine Hillbillies and Tattnall Shrine clubs moved past, with attention-getting music blasting, including the Ray Stevens song "Shriner's Convention."
Local teen singer Chyann Rose treated the crowd to live music as she rode in the back of an old farm grain truck from Freeman Family Farms.
Overall, the entire parade, from the first group out to the horseback riders who brought up the rear (followed by a clown and her partner serving as cleanup crew), the parade served as an exciting introduction to a week filled with food, fun and "fair" weather, Sheets said.
The fairgrounds open Tuesday at 4 p.m., with senior citizens admitted free. Wrist stamps available for $18 will allow bearers to ride unlimited thrill rides.
The fair lasts through Saturday with nightly entertainment, free exhibits, displays and livestock shows.
Holli Deal Saxon may be reached at (912) 489-9414.