Funnel cake and big trucks: City slicker's guide to ATL county fairs

September 8, 2019

Atlanta may be Southern and have expansive greenways and park areas, but it's still a city. When an Atlantan attends a county fair, that's the country. And it's the very best of rural Georgia at that, with funnel cakes, pig races, big trucks, ultra-action roller coasters and Ferris wheels.

When you're at these fairs, you're a city slicker. If you want to have the most fun for the least money, you'll need to understand how these fairs work. Try these tips for ATL fairgoers:

Skip some lines. Even the tiniest fairs offer online ticket sales. The Kiwanis Coweta County Fair, for example, offers an online Mega Pass valid for one admission and corresponding ride armband to use any one day of the fair.

Get inspired. There is so much to see that you would never catch in the city. A few examples include the 4-H Horse Show at the Kiwanis Coweta County Fair (5 p.m., Sept. 21) and a spot where young artists can even set up a booth and sell their stuff at the Chiaha Fair.

Beware of restrictions. Just because it's in the country doesn't mean these fairs don't have modern-day standards.For example, smoking and vaping are both prohibited on property owned by Coweta County, including the fairgrounds. At the Georgia State Fair, you can bring a chair but you can't bring a cooler, gun or outside food or drinks.

Choose your day carefully. Some days the prices are a lot better. Sometimes school buses of kids will unload before your very eyes. Be judicious and check out each day's schedule online before entering the fray. The first thing to look for is free admission days, like the City of Cumming's fair, which is free on opening day and has deals later in the week for seniors 55 and over or people who bring non-perishable goods to benefit Fill Ministries.

Wear comfy clothing and shoes. This may look like a kindly gathering of people who like inhaling funnel cake fumes, but it's actually an endurance competition where you will walk, you will wait, and you may broil in the hot sun. You will slide around on slippery ride seats and tread on other people's discarded slushies and fried pickles. You may hike miles to and from your transportation. You need sunscreen, a water bottle, closed-toe shoes and possibly a clear backpack.

Understand the ticket system. At almost all fairs, rides don't cost a flat fee. Instead, they sell individual ride tickets for around $1.25 and then rides cost anywhere from three to eight tickets. This can add up quickly. If you're mainly interested in the rides, an arm band is usually the way to go.

Eat sweets on your way back to the car. That way you won't have to argue with your digestion if you ride any rides. And you may be able to save on the whole expenditure if everyone gets worn out.

Here are some great Georgia fairs to check out this fall:

North Georgia State Fair in Marietta, Sept. 19-29

The largest of the metro Atlanta fairs can be spotted at 2245 Callaway Road in Marietta.

Georgia State Fair at Atlanta Motor Speedway in Hampton, Sept. 27-Oct. 6

This is the one with concerts and corn dogs, and yes, there will be pig races. Admission starts at $10 for adults 13 and over with discounts for kids and seniors and children under four are free. The Speedway is at 1500 Tara Place in Hampton.

Cumming Country Fair & Festival, Oct. 3-13

Thirty-three acres of standard fairground fun and admission is $7 for everyone older than 11.

Find the fairgrounds at 235 Castleberry Road, Cumming.

Kiwanis Coweta County Fair in Newnan, Sept. 19-29

The admission runs about $5 and there's lots of livestock shows at the Coweta County Fairgrounds, 275 Pine Road in Newnan.

Elberton 12-County Fair, Oct. 10-19

Gotta love the theme: "Small town throw down." Admission is $5, and a pass for unlimited rides is $22. The scarecrow competition is a big draw. Find all the fun at 350 N. Oliver St. in Elberton.

Prater's Mill Country Fair in Dalton, Oct. 12-13

An artisanal fair that benefits restoration of an 1855 grist mill. Purchase advance tickets online for $7.50. The fair and a free parking lot are at 5845 Ga-2 in Dalton.

Chiaha Harvest Fair in Rome, Oct. 26-27

Craftspeople, clogging, a river front view are all the main draws at this fair. Admission starts at $5 for adults and $1 for kids. Find the fun at Ridge Ferry Park, 363 Riverside Parkway in Rome.

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