Georgia State Fair returning to Macon with bigger acts, promotions
By PHILLIP RAMATI — firstname.lastname@example.org
Apr 22, 2012
Left for dead just a few months ago, a new and improved Georgia State Fair will return to Macon’s Central City Park this weekend.
The Macon Exchange Club, which had operated the fair since 1942, voted in August not to hold a fair this year after several consecutive years of losing money on the event.
When Universal Fairs of Memphis, Tenn., bought the fair in November, however, all of that changed. Not only will the fair -- which runs from April 27-May 6 -- continue its tradition that spans more than 150 years, it also will be bigger than in previous years, officials said.
Darrin Hillis, marketing director for Universal Fairs, said there will be more of a focus on live music -- and more variety in the acts -- than in previous years. On tap for this Saturday is an appearance by The Marshall Tucker Band.
“What we’re known for is having a lot of shows and attractions,” Hillis said.
Other musical acts during the opening weekend include Jason D. Williams, One Day of Worship, Land Down Under, Garrett Lee and the JJ Weeks Band.
In addition, there will also be a DJ Rap Battle Tuesday night and a battle of the bands Thursday night.
Beyond the musical acts, Hillis said patrons will be able to visit a petting zoo, Joe Martin’s Snake Show and the Welde Bears, which are trained grizzlies.
Hillis said other events going on during the fair include pig races, a puppet-style rock show in which children can participate, a clown circus and the Rhinestone Roper, a professional trick shooter, knife thrower and roper who has appeared on the NBC show “America’s Got Talent.”
Brian Ellsworth, director of sales for Universal Fairs, said there will be 30 food vendors and 40 to 50 commercial vendors during the state fair, as well as carnival rides.
Ellsworth said he thinks one of the reasons why the state fair struggled in recent years was that people weren’t used to having it in the spring when it used to be held in October. However, competition with the Georgia National Fair in Perry forced the switch to the spring.
“When you change something and move it, it doesn’t help,” Ellsworth said. “But now it’s bigger and better than it has ever been, so (attendance) is not a concern.”
Ellsworth said Universal Fairs also has more experience producing fairs than the Exchange Club did.
Hillis said the company has been hard at work promoting the fair, with advertising ranging from billboards to radio and TV spots.
Don Johstono, who helped organize the fair with the Exchange Club and now serves as a point of contact for Universal Fairs, said the bigger size of this year’s fair can only help it.
“When we did the fair with the Exchange Club, we normally only did two or three shows, and we had mostly local and up-and-coming bands,” he said. “Now there are six or seven shows and the petting zoo, and it’s all included in the price of admission.”
Johstono said about 35,000 people attended last year’s state fair.
“We’re hoping for a significant increase,” he said.
For more information about the Georgia State Fair, go to www.georgiastatefair.org.Read more here: http://www.macon.com/2012/04/22/1999587/georgia-state-fair-returning-to.html#storylink=cpy