South Georgia State Fair takes shape at new fairgrounds on southside of town

For 70 years, the Exchange Club of Savannah under the guidance of the Savannah Exchange Club Fair Association has hosted the Coastal Empire Fair. 

This year, however, with a brand new name, innovative entertainment, and a more convenient location, the South Georgia State Fair is meant to provide family fun in a safe environment.

Chris Hafer, Director of Operations for the Exchange Club of Savannah, said the new fairgrounds are primed and ready.

“The new South Georgia State Fair is going to be bigger and better than ever,” he said. “The Exchange Club of Savannah purchased 321 acres of land with 30 dedicated to the fair on Fort Argyle Road. We have all new rides—working with North American Midway—new technology, lots of LED lighting, and a $6 million investment to making this the best fair around.”

Located at 105 Fort Argyle Road at Exit 94 on Interstate 95, Hafer believes the fair will have much more exposure than in previous years. “According to statistics, that particular exit sees about 76,000 cars per day. Being off a major artery and access from Highway 204 (Abercorn Street), we feel it will be a lot safer and accessible environment for everyone.”

The South Georgia State Fair will offer rides for all ages with height restrictions for those more advanced “thrills.”

“There are a lot more rides on the midway this year,” Hafer said. “We also have a whole host of entertainment, as well.”

“We have a five-star petting zoo with exotic and farm animals. There will be a really fun show by the Soccer Collies—yes, dogs that play soccer. Oh, and don’t forget the Paul Bunyan log extravaganza,” he said. “That’s going to be crazy to see.”

Locals will also be participating in several areas at the fair.

“The Alee Temple Shriners will be working the parking lot for us,” Hafer said. “Parking is $5 per car with the proceeds being split equally between the Exchange Club and the Shriners.”  

And with the new grounds comes more convenient parking. 

“We have extremely well-lit areas for the nearly 1,800 parking spaces. They’re nicely paved and we have 25 slots for handicapped accessibility.”

“Additionally,” he continued. “The Chatham County 4-H will have a booth featuring several projects by members of the group. The Future Farmers of America (FFA) will also be showing a variety of animals for competition, prizes, and ribbons. There are pony rides for kids and local musicians are being lined up for the event, as well.”

“But… do you know the number one reason people come to the fair?” Hafer asked with a pause. “It’s the food.”

“People love to come to the fair for the food, so we have lined up 18 food vendors who will be offering fried candy bars, cotton candy, calzones, meats on sticks, fries, elephant ears… everything you expect to find on the midway.”

Hafer said the best part of working this event is the smiles on people’s faces.

“The fair is for the whole family to come and enjoy, but there’s nothing like seeing how kids react with laughter and smiles,” he said. “We are pleased to host our free Sunshine Special for over 600 area kids who are in care. There’s nothing like making a kid’s day.”

The Exchange Club of Savannah, as well as the national organization, stresses child abuse prevention as their top priority and number one mission. They put time, money, and volunteer hours into many national, state, and local projects, “none bigger than this fair.”

“It’s all part of the mission,” Hafer said. “We’ve worked hard to make this all-new and special. So, come on out, bring your friends and family, and enjoy a warm fall night with some food, fun, and festivities at the South Georgia Fair.”

The South Georgia State Fair runs October 28 through November 7 – Monday through Friday 5:30 p.m. until 10:00 p.m., Saturday from Noon through 10:00 p.m., and Sunday from 1:00 – 10:00 p.m. Tickets are $10, with those five years and under getting in for free. 

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