Sep. 23—MARIETTA — Only two things have been able to shutter Cobb's North Georgia State Fair: World War II and the coronavirus.
The coronavirus proved the lesser foe. While the war put the fair on a several-year hiatus, it reopens at Jim Miller Park on Thursday, having opted to wait out 2020. And organizers expect the fair, presented by Superior Plumbing, will be bigger than ever.
There are a slew of new attractions and, to make a visit even more appealing, the weather will be near-perfect over the next several days.
Cobb will be sunny Thursday, with a high of 71 degrees, according to the National Weather Service. And it will, for the most part, stay that way through Tuesday, with no rain expected and highs staying in the low 80s or below.
If You Go
Dates & times:
Thursday September 23rd: 4:00 PM — 11:00 PM
Friday September 24th: 4:00 PM — Midnight
Saturday September 25th: 10:00 AM — Midnight
Sunday September 26th: 12:30 PM — 10:00 PM
Monday — Thursday Sept. 27th-Sept. 30th: 4:00 PM — 11:00 PM
Friday October 1st: 4:00 PM — Midnight
Saturday October 2nd: 10:00 AM — Midnight
Sunday October 3rd: 12:30 PM — 10:00 PM
$10 admission, free for those 10 years old and younger; $5 parking
HistoryThe 11-day event premiered 100 years ago, in 1921 — one year after Congress amended the U.S. Constitution to ban the sale of alcohol and grant women the right to vote. In other words: a long time ago.
Originally an agricultural affair, there are still vestiges of the fair's roots: the petting zoo, the flower show.
But it has since modernized, and offers fair staples such as the classic rides offered by the Great James H. Drew Exposition.
Smyrna native Tom Gore has been helping set up the rides the past 10 years.
"I remember coming here when I was a little boy" in the 1960s, he said.
On Tuesday, he was setting up a children's roller coaster. The key, he said, is to "make sure all the bolts are tight — that's the main thing."
The operation at-large is being led by an old hand: 30-plus-year Fair Manager Tod Miller, who started out selling tickets and whose father was fair manager before him. The park is named in his honor.
The North Georgia State Fair has set attendance records the past several years, according to Miller.
People in the events industry have been careful not to set unreasonable expectations for post-pandemic events, saying circumstances make attendance hard to predict. But spring events, used to gauge likely attendance at fall fairs, have broken their own records this year, Assistant Manager Bill Watson previously told the MDJ, and that gives the fair's organizers hope this year's event will be no different.
New attractionsThis year's line-up includes:
—The Paul Bunyan Lumberjack Show, a face-off featuring quality lumberjack competitors known throughout the world;
—Jurassic Kingdom, featuring life-like dinosaurs visitors can touch and interact with;
—The Kachunga & the Alligator Show in which Kachunga, a real American Bushman, apprehends an alligator with his bare hands as visitors watch — from a safe distance;
—Robo-Cars, an attraction in which a "real life" Transformer will cruise, dance and transform daily;
—Robinson's Racing Pigs & Paddling Porkers, a race in which audiences can cheer on their favorite porcine celebrities, like Britney Spareribs and Lindsay Slowham;
—And ARCY, an artist known for his paint-splashed style of street art with clients including The Smithsonian Institute, Major League Baseball, America's National Parks Service and the Walt Disney Company.
Miller is especially excited about ARCY, who can, improbably, create his larger-than-life murals in a day's time.
Gore, meanwhile, said his favorite thing about chipping in are the perks.
"Coming back and riding when they're running," he said with a smile. "I get to ride everything free."
And, lest anyone think the fair hasn't done anything to account for COVID-19, it hand sanitizer will abound and first-time sponsor Northside Hospital will be the official first aid provider of the fair, Watson said.