The Georgia National Fair opens every year for two weeks in small town Perry, GA (about 90 minutes south of downtown Atlanta) during the first week in October. I’ve gone nearly every year for as long as I can remember…a tradition of sorts. As a kid, my parents would take my brother and me to the fair, tickets in tow, and we would meet extended family from around the state. We would ride as many rides as we could, slide down the biggest slide a kid could dream of, and eat way too much food. And love each and every second…
As an adult, fairs symbolize sweet innocence and carefree laughs, sticky sweet foods and bright, swirling lights. I hear the triumphant screams of kids, teens as they rumble and ride up down and over again. I smell smoke and grease and spices–turkey legs roasted on the fire. I imagine pulling a jean jacket around my middle as the fall air cools and the sun sets over the Ferris Wheel. Country twang and smooth melodies echo around me as talent takes the stage for the night. And I secretly imagine wandering through rides and games with my hand curled around his–a bae that doesn’t quite exist yet. Sigh…one day.
Farewell to Georgia…
For those who follow me on social media, you know I’ve recently gone through a huge change–I moved from small-town Georgia to tourist attraction Charleston, South Carolina. The moved shocked me to say the least, but the move also opened up Georgia as a potential state to travel on my 13-month-tour! Hence Georgia grabbing the coveted October spot this year.
I lived in Georgia my entire life. Deciding to leave my home state was jarring, but I wanted a farewell that best showed my roots would always belong to the Peach State. The Georgia National Fair seemed the best fit. A staple of my childhood, the setting of a girlish fantasy, and a constant pull back to where I belong. So if you ever find yourself wandering the country roads of Perry, GA be sure to check out these main attractions:
Fun and Games
What’s a local fair without a ring toss? Or a game of matching ducks–one of my personal favorites. Although most envision roller coasters and home town talent, games and prizes line each corner and fill the center of every fair or carnival.
This year, I heard the shouting of by standers as they encouraged participants in the water gun game to shoot faster. Cheers roared when the bell rang to signal a new winner. I saw girls and boys take aim as they tried to shoot as many basketballs in the hoop in 60 seconds. Balloons popped loudly around me as darts burst them open, bebe guns exploded off around me, hitting and missing their targets in succession. The Georgia National Fair felt like a constant parade from start to finish…
I have to admit, I’ve always wanted to be the lucky winner that lands the biggest stuffed prize in the fair. Sadly, I’ve never won a single prize, despite my attempts. Confession? I once had a date win me a giant teddy bear after he won a game at the fair… I still have the teddy bear. Just one of many reasons why, no matter where I reside, Georgia will always be on my mind.
Come One, Come All…
Outrageous attractions and sideshows at the Georgia National Fair range from the silly to the remarkable, and of course, the ridiculous. Wolfman, Headless Woman, and the Sword Swallower line the centerpiece of the fair. Old-school loud speakers call viewers from far and wide to see the impossible, view the unexpected. You can’t ignore their clarion call, that sharp anticipation, or even just inexplicable curiosity. And people of all ages crowd around small packages or inside big wide tents to get their piece of the experience.
What always fascinates me most? The pull of each attraction despite the anticlimactic show. Because seriously? Headless woman doesn’t exist. But that giddy thrill coupled with the laughs are just part of the package. I’ll admit, these attractions aren’t my first choice at the fair, but I can’t picture the fair without their announcements ringing in my ears…and maybe one day, I’ll see the strongest woman or a spider-lady.
Rides, Rides, Rides!!
Without a doubt, rides draw the largest groups of kids, teens, and adults of all ages. Some fill their hands with tickets and wait in line. Myself? I preferred the armband. A bit more money, but the armband lets you ride unlimited rides ALL. DAY. I don’t care how grown you think you are, the fair turns everyone into a kid again.
Admittedly, I’m not a huge fan of most rides that spin–they make me too dizzy to enjoy the ride. So the Spinning Swings? The Gravitron? No go for me. But I still love the swirling lights and colors at night.
I love watching children roll around in bumper cars, their excitement exploding on their angelic faces. I always enjoyed the carousel, even as an adult, the ride still feels like a fairy tale. Rides that tower above me, rocking and rolling to the latest music finally grabbed my attention as I got older. But the crown jewel? The Ferris Wheel. And after three decades, Georgia finally got a GIANT Ferris Wheel…
You know how I feel about Ferris Wheels. (and if you don’t, read more here!). So you know this ride tugged on my heart and soul strings more than the food. Especially when night fell and the wheel lit the sky with neon green, bright red, and hot pink!
Paddle and Lift
I have to say, nearly 30 years of attendance and I’ve never gotten on a paddle boat. I love the sight of each one gliding over reflective waters, lights and colors dancing on the surface. But I’ve never gotten in one. Truth? That ride, like the Ferris Wheel, is part of the bae fantasy…I don’t get in one alone. BUT, for the first time I climbed on the lift!
The views! From that high up, I could see the entire fair spread out before my eyes. I saw every food stand, every high-rise ride, saw the whole landscape circled around me. Made me wish I had climb aboard years ago.
Ready to Eat?
Now you know I travel to eat! Local travel is no exception. I fast for days just so I can enjoy the sticky, greasy, dripping-with-fatty foods at the Georgia National Fair. Because I do not eat this way any other time of the year (not even Thanksgiving or Christmas). The hardest part? Figuring out just which food from the amazing schmorgesborg laid out to choose! The easiest part? Knowing I will always walk out of the fair with a funnel cake.
Everything at the fair is fried or stuffed or filled–fried Oreos, fried chicken tenders, jelly filled funnel cakes or elephant ears. They even sold fried Pop-tarts this year! And you can’t forget the turkey legs! A signature food at the fair, everyone leaves with one–or two! Despite the price (literally $12 this year) lines wrap around the tent for a chance to walk away with this surprisingly healthy treat. And ohemgee is this worth every penny.
I opted for my regular: an Italian sausage that made my taste buds sing. And of course, funnel cake.
Who can resist small-fun like this? Georgians definitely can’t–this attraction pulls thousands of residents each year. Not just for the fun and games. The Georgia National Fair also hosts several competitions in Agriculture, animals, and the arts. In fact, on my About page, you’ll catch a shot of a photo that won in the photography completion some years back.
I told you–this fair is Georgia for me, a reminder of where I come from and why I’ll always return.
Wanna visit next year? Just check out their link for details…
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