Clear skies, cool temperatures and the lure of fun and excitement promises a record year for the 49th annual Kiwanis Ogeechee Fair. Already four days in the making, Statesboro Kiwanis Club officials expect tonight and Saturday night to bring the week to a peak as people from all across the region come for food, thrill rides, exhibits and more.
Monday kicked off with a parade that swept away bad memories of last year, when torrential rains flushed the parade for the first time in history. Parade Chairman Charles Sheets said the 120-plus entry parade was a great success.
Walter Pease, the 2010 Kiwanis Ogeechee Fair chairman, said during Thursday’s club meeting that over 4,500 cans of food and over $3,800 were taken in as admission on the first day of the fair. In the past, Monday was free admission day, but last year club officials decided to “charge” a can of nonperishable food, or $1, to be given to the Statesboro Food Bank.
Ride ticket sales are up from last year, as well as gate (admission) fees, he said. And with Thursday through Saturday traditionally drawing the largest crowds, weather permitting, “I think we’ll have three record setting days,” he said.
Pease praised the carnival for providing a clean, well-maintained midway. Amusements of America owner Dominic Vivona said the fair is “ one of the largest fairs in Georgia and certainly the prettiest.”
Kiwanis members are treated to a meal provided by the Amusements of America midway for the weekly club meeting during the fair. Vivona said it is the least the company can do, considering the treatment the Statesboro Kiwanis Club gives the carnival workers.
Club members and guests enjoyed fried chicken, pizza, Italian sausages, grilled green peppers and onions, potato salad, rolls and green beans as the club conducted its meeting. Vivona and others spoke during the meeting and thanked the Kiwanis members for their hospitality.
“This is the only fair we go to where they (the club hosting the fair) take a personal interest,” he said. Kiwanis members and affiliates provide carnival workers with dental and medical aid, steak dinners one night and other amenities. “This is the only fair on our route where this happens.”
Pease said “It’s been a great partnership over the years.”
Vivona said there is a new thrill ride to the area, called the Extreme, which is popular with thrill seekers, The midway’s “kiddie land” offers new rides, including a hamster ball ride, and on Saturday, kiddie rides are only $1 each between 1 and 3 p.m.
Statesboro Kiwanis Club member Don Whaley spoke to the club after other members presented him with an “Elvis Presley” themed suitcase. The joke stems from when an Elvis impersonator thrilled the women so much one year, the female volunteers in the pancake house ditched the griddles for the show. Whaley is in charge of the pancake house.
Laughing as he accepted the case, Whaley said “This ( the pancake house) is the most fun place on the grounds.”
The fair opens today at 4 p.m, with Moonlight Madness from 8 p.m. to 1 a.m., where a $15 wrist stamp enables bearers to ride as many rides as they wish, as many times as they desire.
Saturday, gates open at 1 p.m. ,and wrist stamps are sold for $20, enabling unlimited rides all day long.
Holli Deal Bragg may be reached at 912-489-9414.