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Midway magic
Parade to kick off Kiwanis Ogeechee Fair Week Monday
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In this file photo from the 2011 Kiwanis Ogeechee Fair Parade, Layne Swanson, 14, of Cheer South flips for parade watchers.

Monday, a parade through downtown Statesboro will signal the opening of the 51st Annual Kiwanis Ogeechee Fair, which will draw thousands to the Georgia Highway 67 facility for thrilling rides, traditional festival foods and family entertainment.
The parade begins at 5 p.m. with floats, dignitaries, classic cars and more meandering along Statesboro’s main streets. Georgia Southern University’s eagle Freedom and handler Steve Hein are the grand marshals.
New rides will join traditional favorites this year. Amusements of America midway manager Robbie Vivona said the new Alpine Bogs music ride is sure  to please thrill seekers, and there will be two giant Ferris wheels on the midway; one 70 feet tall and the other, with flashing LED lights, a whopping 100 feet.
Admission is no longer free on Mondays. Like other days, it will cost $5 to enter the gates, but if you bring a canned good for donation to the Statesboro Food Bank, you get $2 off the admission price per person, per donation of a canned good, he said.
The discount for canned goods is only good on Monday, and children under 6 are still free.
On Wednesday, student admission is not free, as in the past, but will be $1. Students (high school and college) must show ID to get the discount; otherwise, admission is $5.
Seniors still get in free on Tuesday. On Thursday, military and retired military with ID get in free.
Popular with teens and adventurous adults, wrist stamps will still be sold on Tuesday, Thursday, Friday and Saturday. These are good for as many rides, as many times, as a bearer desires. Tuesday and Thursday, the wrist stamps will be $18, and Saturday stamps will cost $20.
Friday night is “Midnight Madness” with stamps not being sold until later in the evening, and good until closing, which extends past midnight. The cost of the stamp that night is $15.
More changes will be evident as fairgoers visit the fairgrounds; a new Heritage Village food alley has been vastly improved and expanded, and there will be new entertainment in the stage area, Fair Chairman Don Poe said.
About $40,000 in improvements to Heritage Village food alley include new block walls, metal studs, new screening, electrical and plumbing, Poe said.
“We felt it was worth the investment because these booths are used by local churches, organizations and small businesses as a major part of fundraisers each year,” he said.
The fair allows the Statesboro Kiwanis Club to give monetary donations to community organizations. Last year, members were able to give more than $200,000 to organizations including Ogeechee Area Hospice, Boys and Girls Club, 4-H, Red Cross, FFA, Special Olympics, law enforcement groups, and the Statesboro Food Bank, Poe said.
Entertainment will be provided nightly, with gospel music on Saturday night. Also, Sam’s Path petting zoo will return with even more animals than last year. Chase’s Racing and Swimming Pigs will return, as well as exhibits and displays by “Rust and Flame” blacksmiths.
“The Almost Amazing Rex” father-and-son magicians will be featured on the Heritage Stage, an addition built last year, and  Lovey’s FunTasTic Kids Show with Lovey the  Clown will draw smiles and laughter.
And, “the ‘Blues Brothers’ may be seen at anytime, anywhere on grounds,” Poe said.
Miss Rodeo USA, Trisha Smeenk, will be there nightly to promote the Statesboro Kiwanis Rodeo, held in April.
Fairground gates open at 6 p.m. Monday.

Holli Deal Bragg may be reached at (912) 489-9414.

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