A 2,000-foot chair lift said to be the longest statewide and an interactive sea lion act are just a few of the newest features at this year’s North Georgia State Fair, which kicks off Thursday afternoon at Jim Miller Park.
The 81st annual fair, themed “Legends, Lions & Lifts,” will be at the park off Callaway Road in Marietta and runs from Sept. 19-29 with hours varying each day. Fair organizers expect 275,000 to 280,000 people to attend over the 11-day period.
Admission is $7 for adults while children under 10 get in free. There will also be daily admission specials, which can be found online at northgeorgiastatefair.com, and parking is $3 per car.
The fair features hundreds of rides, performances, concessions, games and shows for children and adults of all ages, including concerts by country music legend Loretta Lynn, American Idol runner-up Lauren Alaina and three other big-time country singers Lee Brice, Colt Ford and Jerrod Niemann.
Other activities include the Georgia Mountain Lift, which stretches across the 110-acre fair grounds, Sea Lion Splash Times, The Tiger Encounter and the Rowdy Rooster Puppet Show.
The newest addition, and something that will be a permanent feature at the fair, is the chair lift.
Tod Miller, who has managed fair activities since he took over the event from his father and fair namesake Jim R. Miller in 1990, said the ride is the longest in Georgia, lasts 13 to 14 minutes one way and spans across the length of the entire fair.
“Half the people who come to fairs don’t ride rides,” the 45-year-old event organizer explained. “Generally older people, or people who just want to see the grounds, will want to ride it.”
He said only about 25 fairs nationwide feature a chair lift and “this really pushes us to the next level.”
Another feature of the fair he’s excited about is the addition of the sea lion act.
“We think that’s going to be a huge hit this year,” he said. “Four sea lions and a baby in the show. It’s amazing.”
He personally checked out the sea lion show at the South Carolina State Fair and had to wait an hour to get a seat.
Felicia Frisco also will bring her act to this year’s fair. She is the nation’s youngest female tiger trainer at 19 years old. She has five Bengal tigers and will provide an educational and conservation-based show.
Going to the fair has become a tradition in Cobb County for many people in the metro Atlanta area, especially Smyrna Mayor Max Bacon.
“I’ve been going all of my life,” said the 64-year-old Bacon. “And to have a fair in the county, I think it’s one of the best things we have that a lot of other communities don’t.”
Bacon is one of 24 people who sits on the Cobb County Fair Association’s Board of Directors. He began serving on it in 1999 and served as president in 2009 and 2010.
“When I got to be president of the fair I said, “This is it; I have reached the top. … The Lord can come get me anytime he wants,’” Bacon said with a huge grin. “I’ve always just loved fairs and just going to the fair. It’s a great place for people to go.”
To learn more about the fair, ticket prices or to get descriptions of the shows and times for each event, visit the fair online at northgeorgiastatefair.com.