The fair starts today and runs through Sept. 30 at Jim Miller Park, 2245 Callaway Road Southwest in Marietta. The largest fair in metro Atlanta, it draws nearly 300,000 people a year for rides, games, food and entertainment.
Along with the popular Wildcat Rollercoaster, the 80th fair will bring back the 90-foot-tall Seattle Wheel ferris wheel, which was being renovated last year. New to the James H. Drew Exposition carnival midway will be the X-Factory, which gives up to 18 riders a feeling of gliding while going through water jets.
“It’s going to be the biggest and largest in the history of the fair,” said second-year fair President Jay Whorton, a board member for 35 years. “We just keep adding something new every year.”
The fair will also have several concerts, which are free with paid admission. Among the featured shows this year are Newsboys, Building 429 and Luminate at 7:30 p.m. Friday and Sara Evans at 8 p.m. Wednesday. Other shows, all starting at 8 p.m., include Casey James on Saturday, Thompson Square on Sept. 27, Colt Ford on Sept. 28 and Mark Wills on Sept. 29.
In addition, several new regular shows have been added, including “Horses, Horses, Horses!,” an animal show; “Atlanta Puppet,” featuring puppeteer Peter Hart; and “Al the Artist,” in which an artist travels around the fair in a bicycle-powered cartoon car, sketching visitors for five hours each day.
“We try to improve it every year and make something better and different every year,” said Whorton, the Journal’s associate publisher.
Regular admission to the fair is $7 for adults and free for children 10 and under. Ride tickets are $1 each, 22 tickets for $20 or 55 tickets for $50. Parking is $3.
Melissa Kromer, a manager at the fair, said most rides require three or four tickets, with the rollercoaster taking five. On several days, the fair will have discounts allowing unlimited rides for one price, while between 10 and 11 a.m. on Saturdays, fairgoers can enter and ride for free.
“Even on a low budget, you can come in many days and spend hardly anything,” Kromer said.
The fair also includes numerous exhibits ranging from baked good to quilting to plants to dancing.
Along with Whorton, other board officers include Vice President Roswell Story, retired assistant county manager; Secretary Phillip Robuck; Treasurer Bill Hutson, former Cobb sheriff; member-at-large Holly Walquist, former Marietta councilwoman; and past President Max Bacon, mayor of Smyrna.
Other directors include Cobb Parks, Recreation, Cultural Affairs Director Eddie Canon; Jeannie T. Anderson Theatre manager Terry Chandler; former Acworth mayor and councilman Mike Donahoo; Cobb Commission chairman Tim Lee; former Citizen Oversight Committee chairman Brett McClung; former ambulance company owner Bo Pounds; Marietta attorney Alice Summerour; EMC director Malcolm “Cooter” Swanson; former county commissioner business owner Butch Thompson; state Sen. Lindsey Tippins; Cobb Sheriff Neil Warren and North East Cobb Business Association president Frank Wigington.