A Family “A Fair” ©


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Yesterday, at the invitation of two of my sons, we attended the 2018 edition of the Georgia National Fair in Perry. As usual it was a fun-filled day of new and old tractors to ogle , livestock to look at, barrel races to watch, a midway to ride and fair food to eat. A great day spent with three sons, two daughters-in- law and six grandchildren. How can you beat that?

As my wife and I were sitting through an evening concert enjoying some “Healthy” deep-fried funnel cake doused with powdered sugar, we asked ourselves “How did all this happen in the sleepy little city of Perry we settled into in 1971”? So, lest we take it all for granted, here is a brief “Look back” at how it all came to be as described on the website for the fair itself.

It all started in 1983 after Rep. Larry Walker attended a hog show in Macon and felt that our state’s youth deserved a better venue for exhibiting their ag accomplishments. Later that same year, Rep. Henry Reaves held a meeting of youth, civic and political leaders to consider the feasibility of establishing a new state wide youth and ag show facility. It was determined to be both desirable and practical.

In July of 1985 legislation passed creating the Georgia Agricultural Exposition Authority. The committee was led by Chairman Gene Sutherland and Mr. Foster Rhodes. One of the main objectives was to “Establish a state-owned , statewide agricultural fair.

Initially 18 communities asked to be considered as the home for the facility from Henry County in the north to Turner County in the south. Macon and Perry were the two finalists and Perry won in a 7-2 vote. I’m sure Larry Walker could tell us of some intriguing “Horse-trading stories ” of his own to insure that outcome before the first horse hooves ever hit the fairgrounds . Perry and Houston County put up $575,000 each to buy 628 acres that are now the fairground site.

The first fair was held from Oct 5-13 in 1990 and the first concert artists included:

  • Lee Greenwood

  • Ray Stevens

  • Jerry Clower

  • The Temptations

  • Billy Joe Royal

  • Tanya Tucker

  • Accompanied by the Budweiser Clydesdale Horses.

One of the stated goals of the project was to “Generate revenue and to benefit the state economy”. By the sound of the cash registers last night I’d say the Fair has been a ringing success. It’s worth taking your grandkids to the Fair just to see their eyes pop with all the sights, sounds and aromas coming at them from every direction.

Thanks again to Larry Walker and all our civic leaders who were instrumental in making this a reality for us today.

And thanks to you for reading All About Seniors…..see you next week!

PS My wife says “Don’t miss the horse-centered circus”

Bill Milby, CSA, is a Certified Senior Advisor and a Director of Visiting Angels® of Macon, a non-medical, living assistance service for seniors. If you have questions or comments about this column you can reach him at william.mercylink@gmail.com

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