Ready to run: Annual Gwinnett County Fair opens today

The ferris wheel towered above the rain-soaked fairgrounds Wednesday afternoon, but a couple key parts were missing; the carts that will carry fair-goers high above the carnival weren't yet in place.

A group of workers stood ready to attach the numbered carts to the giant wheel as a truck traveled across the grounds dragging cables behind it, and other crews worked on the almost 50 rides that will make up this year's carnival during the 11-day run of the annual Gwinnett County Fair.

A few of the rides arrived on trucks Monday night, but most came in Tuesday. State employees were on site Wednesday inspecting the rides that were assembled and ready to run.

"Some rides take hours and hours and hours to put up," said fair manager Dale Thurman.

But the 14-year Gwinnett fair veteran was optimistic that everything would be in place and ready when the gates open at 4 p.m. today.

"It'll happen," Thurman said. "(And) hopefully the rain will be nice to us."

Weather forecasts Wednesday called for a 70 percent chance of rain today with a 40 percent chance on into the night.

In case of rain, fair-goers who don't want to brave the carnival in wet weather can head inside for the Baby Miss and Young Junior Miss Gwinnett pageants or over to the livestock shows inside the barn, where meat goats will be first up on the show schedule.

Those who don't mind the rain can continue to enjoy the carnival as it will remain open, severe weather notwithstanding, Thurman said. But whatever fair-goers decide to do during opening day, fair organizers hope fun is involved.

"Our goal is to be safe, clean and if we can get a child to smile, laugh, if we can get a grandparent to stand back and see that child laugh, just see that smile on somebody's face, you've done your job," Thurman said.

SideBar: If You Go

· What: Gwinnett County Fair

· When: Through Sept. 27

· Where: Gwinnett County Fairgrounds, 2405 Sugarloaf Parkway in Lawrenceville

· Cost: $5 for adults, $2 for seniors and children ages 6 to 12, and free for children 5 and younger

Today at the fair

Ride all rides for $18 plus the price of admission or bring along an empty Coca-Cola product container and pay just $15 plus the price of admission.

· 5:30 p.m. - Meat/Boer goat show

· 6:30 p.m. - Baby Miss Gwinnett pageant for newborns to 18 months

· 7:30 p.m. - Young Junior Miss Gwinnett pageant for ages 9 and 10

· 6:45 and 8:30 p.m. - Fearless Flores Thrill Show