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Fair adds rides, more Nashville talent, thrill show for '06

LAWRENCEVILLE - The funnel cake batter is ready for frying, the livestock is brushed and the rides are up. The ticket booths have been rebuilt and the landscaping is updated.

Everything is ready for the 54th annual Gwinnett County Fair, which opens today and continues through Sept. 24.

About 225,000 people attended last year's fair, and, judging by the favorable weather forecast, Fair Manager Dale Thurmond expects to top that number. Parking is free and admission is $5 for adults and $2 for seniors and children ages 6 to 12. Children ages 5 and under get in free.

"Even though it costs money to come, it is still a bargain," Thurmond said. "Compare it to a two-hour movie. Here, you spend at your level and you can stay as long as you want."

This year's fair will be one of the largest yet, with 51 carnival rides - five more than last year. New this year will be daily performances from the Fearless Flores Thrill Show, a traveling troupe of circus performers. This year's schedule includes five nights of bands and entertainment, including three nights of Nashville talent.

The Miss Gwinnett County Scholarship Pageant, scheduled for 8 p.m. Saturday, is the first stepping stone to the Miss America contest. Winners of various categories will earn a total of $3,500 in scholarship money. Nine youth beauty pageants are also scheduled, for girls from newborns to age 17.

The Gwinnett County Fair distinguishes itself by its livestock. More than 1,000 animals will pass through the fairgrounds during the fair's 11-day run. A breed-specific cattle show is scheduled every day, as well as lamb, goat and swine shows.

"We maintain one of only two fairs in the state that pushes livestock and agriculture, us and Perry," Thurmond said. "Many kids think milk comes from a grocery store."

The first Gwinnett County Fair opened on Gwinnett Drive in 1952.

"It was tiny," Thurmond said. "Some people had a vision of what it could be and the Board of Directors put in years of service to make it what it is today. It moved to its current location in the mid-1970s, when Sugarloaf Parkway was Johnson Road."

The annual Gwinnett County Fair is a time for the community to gather together and have fun, Thurmond said.

"When you see a small child with cotton candy in their hand and smiling or hear older people say, 'Remember when we did this?', you know you've done your job," he said.

IF YOU GO

•What: Gwinnett County Fair

•When: Through Sept. 24. The carnival is open from 4 p.m. to 11 p.m. weekdays, from noon to midnight Saturdays and from 1 to 10 p.m. Sundays. The exhibit hall is open from 4 p.m. to 10 p.m. weekdays, from noon to 11 p.m. Saturdays and from 1 to 9 p.m. Sundays.

•Where: Gwinnett County Fairgrounds, 2405 Sugarloaf Parkway, Lawrenceville

•Cost: Admission is $5 for adults and $2 for seniors 65 and older and children 6-12. Children 5 and under get in free.

•Info: Call 678-377-4010 or visit www.gwinnettcountyfair.com.

Today

•Ride all rides for $18 plus the price of admission, or bring an empty Coke product can and pay $15 plus the price of admission.

•6:30 p.m. Meat/Boer Goat Show

•6:30 p.m. Baby Miss Gwinnett Pageant (0 to 18 months old)

•7:30 p.m. Young Junior Miss Gwinnett (9 and 10 years old)

•6:45 p.m. Fearless Flores Thrill Show

•8:30 p.m. Fearless Flores Thrill Show

Friday

•6 p.m. Santa Gertrudis Show

•6:30 p.m. Toddler Miss Gwinnett Pageant (19 to 35 months old)

•6:45 p.m. Fearless Flores Thrill Show

•7:30 p.m. Young Miss Gwinnett Pageant (11 and 12 years old)

•8:30 p.m. Fearless Flores Thrill Show

Saturday

•10 a.m. Parade. This year's parade starts at the Gwinnett Justice and Administration Center, travels south on Langley Drive to Nash Street, turns left on Nash Street to Perry Street, turns right on Perry Street (Ga. Highway 20) and ends at the intersection of Ga. 20 and Gwinnett Drive.

•11:30 a.m. Southeast Empire Lamb Show

•2 p.m. Fearless Flores Thrill Show

•4 p.m. Fearless Flores Thrill Show

•6 p.m. Fearless Flores Thrill Show

•8 p.m. Fearless Flores Thrill Show

•8 p.m. Miss Gwinnett Pageant

Sunday

•11 a.m. Southeast Empire breeding ewe show

•1 p.m. Simmental show, followed by Simmental percentage show, followed by Red Angus show

•1 p.m. Wee Miss Gwinnett Pageant (3 and 4 years old)

•2 p.m. Tiny Miss Gwinnett Pageant (5 and 6 years old)

•2 p.m. Fearless Flores Thrill Show

•3 p.m. Little Miss Gwinnett Pageant (7 and 8 years old)

•4 p.m. Junior Miss Gwinnett Pageant (13 and 14 years old)

•4 p.m. Fearless Flores Thrill Show

•5 p.m. Miss Gwinnett Queens Finals Peoples Choice

•5:15 p.m. Teen Miss Gwinnett Pageant (15 and 17 years old)

•6 p.m. Fearless Flores Thrill Show

•8 p.m. Fearless Flores Thrill Show

Monday

•Ride all rides for $18 plus the price of admission, or bring an empty Coke product can and pay $15 plus the price of admission.

•5 p.m. Registered other breed show

•6 p.m. Charolais show

•6:45 p.m. Fearless Flores Thrill Show

•7 p.m. Angus show

•7:30 p.m. Tommy Cash's "Tribute to Johnny Cash"

•8 p.m. Gelbvieh show

•8:30 p.m. Fearless Flores Thrill Show

Tuesday

•Ride all rides for $18 plus the price of admission, or bring an empty Coke product can and pay $15 plus the price of admission.

•4:30 p.m. Salers show

•6 p.m. Limousin show

•6:45 p.m. Fearless Flores Thrill Show

•7 p.m. Hereford show

•7:30 p.m. T. Graham Brown

•8:30 p.m. Fearless Flores Thrill Show

Wednesday

•Ride all rides for $18 plus the price of admission, or bring an empty Coke product can and pay $15 plus the price of admission.

•6 p.m. Swine show

•6:45 p.m. Fearless Flores Thrill Show

•7:30 p.m. Billy Joe Royal

•8:30 p.m. Fearless Flores Thrill Show

Sept. 21

•Ride all rides for $18 plus the price of admission, or bring an empty Coke product can and pay $15 plus the price of admission.

•5:30 p.m. Brahman show

•6:30 p.m. Shorthorn show

•6:45 p.m. Fearless Flores Thrill Show

•7:30 p.m. Leon Jacobs

•8:30 p.m. Fearless Flores Thrill Show

Sept. 22

•6:45 p.m. Fearless Flores Thrill Show

•7:30 p.m. Joey Watkins and the River Street Band

•8:30 p.m. Fearless Flores Thrill Show

Sept. 23

•9:30 a.m. Dairy goat show

•2 p.m. Fearless Flores Thrill Show

•4 p.m. Fearless Flores Thrill Show

•6 p.m. Fearless Flores Thrill Show

•8 p.m. Fearless Flores Thrill Show

Sept. 24

•1 p.m. Chi-influence show

•2 p.m. Fearless Flores Thrill Show

•2:30 p.m. Commercial dairy heifer show

•4 p.m. Fearless Flores Thrill Show

•6 p.m. Fearless Flores Thrill Show

•8 p.m. Fearless Flores Thrill Show