Workers assemble the giant Ferris wheel at the Exchange Club Fairgrounds, Westover Blvd. at Oakridge Dr., in preparation for the Exchange Club Fair. (File photo)
ALBANY — Fall features leafs changing colors, the World Series, Halloween and football games.
Check all of those off the list, leaving one last vestige of the season — the Exchange Club Fair of Albany — and it arrives Tuesday.
The midway at Westover Road and Oakridge Road will be party central next week as the James E. Strates Co. attractions arrive in Albany for the 58th version of Southwest Georgia’s largest fair.
As usual, this year’s fair will include the midway rides, livestock shows, candied apples and other food, games of chance, community and commercial exhibits, music and other types of entertainment.
“We’ve got a lot of new entertainment lined up this year,” said Skip Nichols, Exchange Club member and fair manager.
The new entertainment each night includes Willie and Company, a ventriloquist act; Family Friends and Farmers, an educational show based on farm animals designed for children and adults; Bob Bohn’s Variety Show, an illusionist who does magic tricks during an interactive show, and a bicycle BMX show featuring jump demonstrations.
The fair kicks off Tuesday at 4 p.m. with the week’s first promotion. It’s Harvey’s Day on Tuesday. Fair patrons can visit Harvey’s before coming to the fair and get a coupon and purchase a $20 armband for $16. The armband allows unlimited rides on the midway.
The fair will open at 4 p.m. through Friday, but will open at 11 a.m. Saturday and 1 p.m. Sunday. General admission is $6.
Saturday will be Kids Day allowing patrons under 42 inches tall to buy an armband for $12 from 11 a.m. until 2 p.m. and ride unlimited times until 4 p.m., when regular pricing will resume.
Advance tickets are on sale at Home Run Foods in the Albany area through Monday. This allows admission to the fair for $5. Patrons under 42 inches tall can get into the fair for $1.75 instead of the regular $2 fee with the Home Run promotion.
Packages offer general admission and an armband Tuesday through Sunday for $20. It’s a $26 value. Those under 42 inches tall can get a $22 combined admission and ride ticket for $16.
Wednesday and Thursday are McDonalds days, allowing armbands to be purchased for $16 instead of the regular $20 fee if you have a coupon from McDonalds.
Nichols said the fair is an agricultural event featuring livestock competition beginning at 3 p.m. Tuesday through Friday. Those attending the livestock events can enter before the regular crowd by going to the commercial gate on the Oak Ridge Drive entrance.
Nichols said the fair is open each night Tuesday through Saturday until about midnight. Sunday’s closing time is around 8 p.m. or 9 p.m., he said.
“It just depends on participation,” Nichols said. “It depends on how the crowd is going. If they are here, we keep going.”
There is no parking fee, and the gates open 30 minutes prior to the actual start time.
Nichols said the fair is the major fundraising tool of the Exchange Club here.
“We own 100 acres at the fairgrounds and this helps us cover the expenses at the fair and operate the fairgrounds for the year. A good portion of our profits also go for child abuse prevention and other organizations in Albany.”
Because hosting the fair is such a major production, Nichols said all 167 members of the Exchange Club are expected to volunteer for duty.
“It takes all 167 to put the fair on,” Nichols said.
Nichols said the club employs a large security force in addition to the security provided by club members circulating throughout the grounds anytime the gates are open.
“You’ll see us out there with our orange shirts and coats on all over the fairgrounds,” he said.