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Fair organizers see slight increase in attendance this year

Published 3:53pm Monday, October 14, 2013

Although Kiwanis organizers are still calculating exact totals for the 2013 Chilton County Fair, it does appear there was a slight increase in attendance this year.

New Kiwanis President Delmer Owens, who was voted to serve as the 2013-2014 club president Oct. 10, said preliminary reports of the fair indicate a successful year.

“Every day with the exception of Friday, we were up in attendance,” Owens said. “We also extended our hours this year so we believe that helped along with a petting zoo and animal circus that was an added attraction.”

The circus featured various animals including camels, goats, llamas, sheep and a monkey as well as more rides available for smaller children.

Owens said the weather also helped keep attendance up this year.

“We dodged the showers and everything turned out exceptionally well,” Owens said.

Owens said organizers are still trying to calculate an exact total of money raised at the fair but he estimates it will be around $45,000.

“Traditionally we make in the range of $40,000-$60,000 each year,” Owens said.

The Clanton Kiwanis Club will use fair proceeds to fund scholarships for six high school seniors, one from each school in the county, as well as support different charitable organizations.

This year, the fair was not held on Monday and hours were extended with nightly events beginning at 4 p.m. instead of 5 p.m.

Saturday events started at noon and went until midnight instead of 4 p.m. to midnight.

Organizers also started a Chilton County Fair Facebook page that included daily updates with information regarding events for the fair.

Owens said multiple volunteers helped make this year’s event a success and without them, the fair wouldn’t have been possible.

Now, Owens said club organizers will shift their focus to the upcoming year with the fair changing locations in 2014.

In January, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) at the Chilton County Airport granted a one-year extension for the Chilton County Fair to remain in the current location, near the airport, for the 2013 fair.

It had been previously announced in October 2012 that the fair would have to find a new location due to a proposed airport project that would extend the airport’s runway 1,000 feet to the west.

The fair posed safety issues with the airport that receives grants from the FAA and Alabama Department of Transportation (ALDOT) Avionics Division due to having a lit up Ferris wheel that is considered an obstruction near the airport’s runway.

The Kiwanis Club started developing ideas for a new location and has currently secured property near the old Henry M. Adair School located at 102 First St. S. in Clanton for the new location.

“We will be using that area for the fair and I think people will be pleased with the new location,” Owens said. “It will have good lighting, paved areas and an indoor facility.”

Owens said Kissel Entertainment has featured rides at the fair for 18 years and plans to continue supporting the fair in the new location.

“The new fair will be more of a square layout as opposed to how the airport layout currently is,” Owens said. “We have been assured we will have new rides and the anticipation is we will eventually have a multi-purpose building. If that doesn’t happen, then we will have tents. We have a pretty comprehensive plan we are working through.”

One of the main goals for the upcoming fair is to have more of a focus on agriculture.

“The original concept of the fair was agricultural,” Owens said. “We did have more participation this year but we are really trying to get as much agricultural participation as we can.”

Owens said one of the next steps in developing the new location will be setting up fencing around the area.

“The city of Clanton, the Board of Education and some of the private owners who had some land around there have been hospitable,” Owens said. “We think this new location will be a positive thing for the community. Most people enjoy coming to the fair because it brings them back to their childhood.”

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