Crew members Carlos Aviles, top left, and Vinny Negron, top center, help guide the crane operator with a piece of the Crazy Mouse roller coaster for the Gwinnett County Fair at the Fairgrounds in Lawrenceville on Wednesday. (Staff Photo: Brendan Sullivan)
Rides & Games
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IF YOU GO
• What: Gwinnett County Fair
• When: 11 a.m. to midnight Saturdays, 1 to 10 p.m. Sundays, 5 to 11 p.m. Monday through Friday
• Where: Gwinnett County Fairgrounds, 2405 Sugarloaf Parkway, Lawrenceville
• Cost: $2 to $5 for admission, additional to ride
• For more information: Visit gwinnettcountyfair.com
Sept. 12 Schedule
• 5 p.m. — Santa Gertrudis show
• 6:30 p.m. — Baby Miss Gwinnett Pageant (newborn to 18 months)
• 7:30 p.m. — Young Junior Miss Gwinnett (9 and 10 years)
• 6 and 8 p.m. — The Edge 2 Wheel Action Show
• 7 and 9 p.m. — Nojoes Clown Circus
LAWRENCEVILLE — Step right up, come on in.
It’s time for the Gwinnett County Fair.
For the 59th year, the annual event that attracts thousands of visitors to the fairgrounds in Lawrenceville is back. For two and a half days, crews have shipped, built and constructed rides and food booths for the 11-day fair.
“It’s amazing to see when it all comes together,” said fair manager Dale Thurman, who has been a part of the fair for 18 years.
The carnival traveled to Lawrenceville from Memphis Sunday night and began the assembly on Monday. While all of the rides are constructed, inspectors from the state of Georgia are giving them a thorough examination.
“The inspectors are out there right now and they’re going to inspect every ride as it goes up,” Thurman said. “Although the law doesn’t require some of them to be inspected, they are. We require it and ask for it.”
That includes the food vendors. Each booth and station is inspected almost every day.
“It’s a constant, which is a good thing,” Thurman said. “It makes it that nobody gets sick. That’s what we’re after.”
Since there are live animals on the premises, the barns also gets extra love in the name of safety.
“Out in the barn, we scrub every night and clean. We do everything to make it clean and safe,” Thurman said.
Throughout the days at the fair, students enter their animals into livestock shows to win cash prizes and ribbons — everything from steers to ewes.
“The cattle is going to be down because it’s so expensive to raise a show cow,” Thurman said. “The goats, hogs, lambs and all that are coming in strong. There are going to be several hundred cows, but less than it once was.”
But there is more than just livestock. There are more than 50 rides for people of all ages with a few new ones that have been thrown in the mix, like The Vortex.
“I was watching the video and that thing is wild,” Thurman said. “To me, it looks like two mushrooms that spin. If I was younger and my back would handle it, that’s the one I would ride.”
For the kids, the Far West Train was added.
“It’s as cute as could be,” Thurman said with a laugh. “I would get in it if I was little, but I don’t think I meet the requirements.”
For other entertainment, the three main acts performing daily are Ozseeker the Clown, who will be around the fairgrounds, Nojoes Clown Circus and The Edge 2 Wheel Action Show. The wheel show features performers demonstrating tricks on bicycles.
Musical performances include John Berry, Candi Carpenter, Bobby Tomberlin, Billy Crash Craddock, Waymore’s Outlaws and Leipers Fork Bluegrass.
There is always the Miss Gwinnett Pageants — for all ages (newborn to adult) — which begins today and ends Sunday. Babies, toddlers, young girls, teens and adults will grace the stage in hopes to win the first place crown. On Saturday, young women ages 17 to 24 compete for not only a crown, but a scholarship towards college and the winner will represent the county at the Miss Georgia Pageant.
There are educational aspects of the fair, like the 4-H barn, where children are able to touch baby animals while learning about the critter’s lifestyles, habits and food.
The animals aren’t the only ones who will eat at the fair. Attendees have a chance to nibble on nostalgic treats while walking around the fairgrounds. Vendors offer a variety of finger foods and sugar-laced drinks, including frozen root beer, snow cones in an array of flavors and hand-dipped corn dogs.
Since this only comes around one time a year, Thurman believes it’s OK to dig in to the greasy grub.
“As I always say, fair food doesn’t count against you,” he said.
Starting this year, instead of collecting empty Coca-Cola cans to receive a discounted rate on rides, the fair is collecting nonperishable items.
“I’m excited about the food drive. I want to see how that goes,” Thurman said. “We’re going to get a tally at the end to see how many pounds of food we collected.”
The County Fair crew will donate all of the food to the Lawrenceville Co-op and other nonprofits that need the help.