BY ANDREW EDWARDS, STAFF WRITER
Autauga County celebrated its annual fair this past week at Mac Gray Park. On Friday night, the crowds were out and about as the fair grounds were filled to the brim with family and friends.
After paying admissions, fairgoers would walk through the warehouse at the park to be greeted by an assortment of booths and tables. Each table would have handouts and treats for kids and other fun spectacles, such as the Prattville Fire Department dressing up in full gear.
After walking the through the warehouse, a lengthy line would be awaiting those who needed to buy a ticket. A line stretched all the way from the ticket booth back to the entrance of the building. Those waiting to get in had to opportunity to listen to a live concert that was set up near the entrance of the park – which was stationed next to the booth. The fair had a couple of different singers throughout the night, who would sing songs ranging from Dolly Parton to Fleetwood Mac.
There were many different rides that children could try. For the older kids, the zero-gravity ride as well as the swinging gondola would tend the be the most fun. For the younger ones, the Ferris Wheel, “Crazy Bus,” and slide would generally prove to be more fun – among many more rides.
If you were hungry, then this was the eating destination during the run of the fair. There really wasn’t a corner you could turn that didn’t have food. Pizza, burgers, nachos and sweets would headline the assortment of goodies that the fair provided.
Those maybe too young to do some of the larger rides also had the opportunity to go into the petting zoo, which had animals ranging from donkeys, to the more exotic, like camels.
Gary Essay, the executive director over the county fair, thinks the petting zoo is great addition to the fun.
“We started the petting zoo about four years ago and it’s been a great success. It’s good chance for kids and even parents to interact with animals that they otherwise wouldn’t have the opportunity to,” Essary said.
Essary, who took over as director back in 2013, has built a genuinely fun atmosphere at the fair-grounds. With his help, along with other community organizations, the Autauga fair has reached the a tremendous amount of excitement, and plans are to continue building and making it even better next year.
“It’s just really great to see how much we’ve been able to grow the fair. We’re at the time of the season where everyone is swapping from beach trips and afternoons by the pool to other activities. I wanted those fall activities to include this fair, and that’s why I stepped in in 2013. I remember how much fun my kids and I had here back when they where little and I wanted that opportunity for this generation of children as well,” Essary explained.
The county fair again proved that it’s still a growing and learning opportunity for Essary, and that there’s always new challenges. One thing is for sure, the fun and excitement for the fair was at an all-time high, and with the continued help from Essary and all those involved – these October nights couldn’t get here soon enough.