Chairman Gary Welden talks about the 2019 Kiwanis Coweta County Fair

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From Staff Reports

Gary Welden has been chairman of the Kiwanis Coweta Fair for six years. In this interview, Gary talks about the upcoming 2019 Fair from Sept. 19-29, plus reflects over the course of his years directing the event.

What is the role of the Fair Chairman?
The fair is organized and run by a committee. Each member of the committee is responsible for part of the fair. My job as chairman is to help committee members if they need it, to be the face of the fair and oversee the big picture.

Why do the Kiwanis sponsor the fair?
The Kiwanis Club of Newnan is a civic/service organization. That means we are a group of people who come together to give back and help the community. The fair is our main fundraiser. All funds raised at the fair are given back to the community.  No money is used for the operations of the club. Another reason is the fair is fun. We enjoy seeing people enjoying themselves.

What’s new this year?
The fair opens the Midway on Thursday, Sept.19. Admission is free with a coupon from The Paper and armbands for unlimited rides are only $20.

The Shark Encounter show has a man swimming with live sharks in a large fish tank.

Captain Jim is a peg leg Pirate and will be performing his magic show.

The new Dragon ride is something the entire family will enjoy.

The petting zoo will have some new animals along with the ones you always enjoy.

We will have a Beauty Pageant for the first time in years.

Donald White the Science Guy will be here this year.

What are some of the big “crowd pleasers” you’ve noticed over the years?
The Blue Ribbon Fair in the exhibit hall, where people exhibit their crafts and try to win the Blue Ribbon is always a great treat.

The Rust & Flame Blacksmith show is something no one should miss.

People who watch the contests such as cake decorating, gingerbread house decorating and the steak cook-off, always say they enjoyed it.

How much money does the Kiwanis Club put back into the community?
Over the past few years, we annually give about $180,000 in grant money to non-profits in the county. We also give money to the White Oak Golden Kiwanis for parking the cars; the Boy Scouts for picking up trash. The Boy Scouts, The Coweta Kiwanis Club and the 4-H  also have food booths and raise money for their needs as well.  The total is around $250,000

What would be the perfect fair?
We are close to having the perfect fair. And it’s based on everyone working together.

We have partnered with the Coweta County commissioners and it would be hard to have a better fairgrounds. The sheriff’s office ensures everyone is on their best behavior. The 4-H program does a great job with the blue ribbons, agricultural and craft exhibits. Primetime Amusements does a great job with the midway and rides. And we have wonderful volunteers who take time out to make sure everyone has a great time.

If Mother Nature will give us cool nights with no rain this year, we may have the perfect fair this year.

What do you enjoy the most during the fair?
Seeing families enjoy the thrill of a fair. When you are older, the most valuable thing you have are memories. The fair helps you make good memories. Seeing the face of a grandchild riding a ride with the grandparent …  that is something they will never forget.

What do you wish more people would do at the fair?
I wish people would go to the exhibit halls, what I call the Blue Ribbon Fair. Seeing the entries for photographs, agriculture, bake goods, and preserved foods. People who do not go to the exhibit hall miss the best part of the fair. (See the fair book on our website for details)

What do you do if you lose your phone, a parent, or have some other question? 
We have a lost and found and information center near the entrance to the midway. There is always someone there that can help. It is also called the “Fruit Stand.”

What is the best deal?
The best deal is on the first Thursday (Sept. 19) of the Fair, Sunkist is providing free admission and Buffalo Rock is providing unlimited ride armbands for $20. On the first Monday night (Sept. 23) Dr Pepper is providing free admission, and arm bands are $25. You can find coupons in The Paper for free admission.

If you buy a mega pass for $25 you get admission any day and an armband for the rides. That saves $5 on weeknights and $10 on Friday and Saturday. (Mega Pass must be bought before midnight Sept. 19.)

What day is the best day to attend the fair?
Weeknights are the best days, there will be bigger crowds on Friday and Saturday. If you come on Saturday, try to come early before the crowd.

Any other suggestions?
It’s always smart to bring cash for the games or food. We have ATMs, but the line can get long and there is a fee to use them. Make sure you dress for the weather. It can still get really hot in late September, also make sure you have adequate protection from the sun. And finally, come ready to have a great time with your family.

We understand this is your last year as chairman. The floor is yours …  
It has been my honor and pleasure to serve as the Chairman of the Fair Committee. You will never find a better group of people to work with.

This county is blessed and lucky to have the Kiwanis Club and their partners that put the fair on. The County Commissioners and their staff, the Sheriff and his Department, the County Agent, her staff and the 4-H Clubs are all partners in putting on the best fair in west Georgia.

I have some hopes for the future:
•  I hope we can improve the entrances, exits, and parking. Traffic on weekend nights is a real problem.
•  I hope a covered arena is built soon, so we can have more and better livestock and equine exhibits.
•  I hope it rains the week before and the week after the fair but not the week of the fair.
•  I hope for cool nights with a soft breeze.
•  I hope everyone makes good memories at the fair.
•  I hope to see you at the fair this year.
•  I hope you enjoy the fair as much as I do.

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