The Zipper is just one of the many festive rides available at the Geren Rides carnival located next to Buffalo Wild Wings in the parking lot of Valdosta Mall. Jonathan Chick /
Published November 13, 2009 09:48 pm - Geren Rides has returned to ValdostaCarnival returns to winter resting place
By Matt Flumerfelt
VALDOSTA — Geren Rides, the family-owned, Georgia-based carnival, is back and they plan to stay awhile.
General Manager Frank Sutton said the carnival opened on Wednesday and plans to keep the rides running until shortly before Thanksgiving.
The traveling carnival business dried up in Valdosta for several years, Sutton said, because of Wild Adventures. When Geren Rides returned last spring, however, he said the response was good, despite some weather issues. The Valdosta Mall liked their operation, so they decided an encore was in order. Sutton said that for now, they plan to come to Valdosta twice a year, in spring and winter.
“We really used to excite people when we came here. Kids would come out, wanting to help set up, but they can’t do that now because of Georgia law. We try to give people a good bargain for their dollar and we offer good, clean family entertainment,” he said.
Valdosta should be a good starting and concluding point for the carnival. Geren Rides stores its rides and equipment in Dasher.
Geren Rides has been continuously operating for 67 years, he said. The carnival bills itself as the world’s finest midway, and travels to Tennessee, Alabama and Mississippi, in addition to Georgia. They even have a unit in Coney Island, he said, but that park is temporarily closed for renovation.
Sutton himself belongs to one of the oldest carnival families in the U.S., he said, stretching back five generations on one side and four generations on the other. His great grandfather started in the business in 1869 with a horse with two tails, and went on from there.
The Geren family added several new rides this time around, he said, including the Ring of Fire, the Gravitron, the Zipper and the Trabant. Hours of operation are Friday 5-11 p.m. or later, Saturday 5-11 p.m. or later, and Sunday 2-10 p.m. or later.
“We have a strong Kiddieland for young kids and strong major rides for the teenagers,” he said.
Other attractions include The Screaming Bullet, The Scrambler, The Cobra, Sammy’s Speedway, The Himalaya, Spin Out, The Prize Factory and The Super Slide. Concession stands offer traditional carnival fare such as Sno Kones, Hawaiian shaved ice, fresh squeezed lemonade, cotton candy, funnel cakes, sausage, hot dogs, nachos, popcorn and cold drinks. Restrooms are provided for patrons.
Sutton said Geren Rides offers a lot of good discounts, like a $12 armband from 1 p.m. until 5 p.m. on Saturday that let’s youngsters ride as long as they like, and $3 discount coupons good Monday through Thursday. Single tickets are $1, regular armbands are $16, and patrons can buy 20 tickets for $18 or 40 tickets for $36. Tickets are good anytime, he said.