Spalding County Fair with new midway continues through Saturday


SHEILA A. MATHEWS :::

Despite changes in the midway attractions, Kiwanis Club of Griffin Fair Manager Ralph Jones said the Spalding County Fair goes on.

Jones said the Kiwanis Club of Griffin, which sponsors the annual Spalding County Fair, was unaware Belle City Amusements would not be providing the midway entertainment.

“Belle City has been coming here for 54 years. We have a contract with them, and we’ve never questioned it. Well, basically, they found a better place to go where they could make more money – Memphis – so they hired another carnival to come here,” Jones explained. “Actually, they showed up a couple of weeks ago and did a walk around the fairgrounds like always. They pointed out where they were going to put their office just like always. No one said anything different.”

He said there were some strange occurrences, but because of the longstanding excellent relationship with Belle City, no one became overly suspicious.

“I guess we should have realized something was wrong when we had another carnival company come to the door a couple of weeks ago and say, ‘We heard you need a carnival,’ but we didn’t put it together. We should have known – that was strange – but we didn’t really know until they started showing up here, and where you’re used to looking down the yard here and seeing a lot of things that say Belle City, nothing said Belle City. We didn’t know until the other carnival showed up.”

Asked if the contract with Belle City Amusements permitted subcontracting, Jones said, “Our contract is pretty primitive. I think basically it pretty much just says that Belle City will provide a midway, and they did that, so you can’t say they really didn’t do what the contract said. I think the thing that’s really bothered most of the Kiwanians is that we’ve been doing business with the same people for 54 years, and you don’t worry about it. We’ll certainly be a little more careful next year, but we have to use what we’ve got this year.”

While different, Jones said the fair midway still has much to offer.

“This carnival is good, but it doesn’t have all the rides we’re used to having, the big rides. We probably have about the same number of rides, but not the big ones the teenagers like. We have the bigger rides, but not as many,” he said. “There are rides here. If you walk down the midway, the kids are happy. I think some of the parents take it and run with it on social media more than the kids do. I think basically the kids are having a good time. You’re going to stand in a little longer line and there aren’t as many rides for the older kids, but they’re having a good time.”

Along with rides, the midway offers games for all ages, including the ever-popular bingo.
Perhaps the most popular fair treat of all – the famous Kiwanian Korn Dawg – is bustling, and other local fair food vendors include the 4H food booth and New Salem Baptist Church.

Families will also enjoy First Bite Fishing where they’ll wet a line for catfish, pig races, musical and dance performances, art and craft exhibits and a chainsaw artist.

One ride mishap did occur Monday evening, but repairs have been made, Jones said.

“It’s a little merry go round type ride with little cars that are attached to a bar. They’re attached by bolts and they go around in a circle. One of the bolts came off, so that car just stopped and the car behind it ran into it and pushed it to the side,” he said. “No one was hurt, and no one thought anything about it to even report it to the police of firefighters who were out there. It’s bad when anything malfunctions, but it’s good that no one was hurt.”

He said the ride was checked and repaired.

“They went down this morning and changed out all the bolts,” Jones said. “As far as I know, everything is ready to go.”

Jones, who has volunteered countless hours planning, organizing and working at the Spalding County Fair for 46 years, encourages the community to continue to support not only the Fair, but the tremendous programs funded by the Kiwanis Club of Griffin.

“All of our projects are geared around kids – Girl Scouts, Boy Scouts, the Key Club. We send kids to the doctor and buy them eyeglasses. We’ve got scholarships and support 4H,” he said. “Everything that we do goes back into the community.”

The Spalding County Fair runs through Saturday, Oct. 12.

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