Adam Lass and Christina Johnson wait at the gate to take tickets from patrons entering Georgia State Fair at Atlanta Motor Speedway in Hampton. (Staff Photo: Kathy Jefcoats)
HAMPTON — Sitting on a stool at the entrance into the Georgia State Fair, ticket-taker Christina Johnson can see the smiles on everyone heading for fun.
“People are just looking to have a good time,” she said. “The fair got started because people were looking for entertainment, something fun to do.”
The Memphis native shares the gate duties with Adam Lass of Henry County. Lass was on break from classes at North Georgia College and State University so he took the opportunity to work the fair.
“It’s a really good experience,” he said. “People are bringing their families, their little ones. You know, you grow up going to the fair and when you get grown, you want to come back with your own kids.”
This is the second year officials with Georgia State Fair have pitched tents, set up rides and wheeled in food trucks on the grounds of Atlanta Motor Speedway in Hampton.
The air is fragrant with sweet smells of caramel apples, cotton candy and funnel cakes and the savory scents of corn dogs, barbecue and cheese steaks.
In contrast, the pungent odors of cattle, sheep and goats waft from the free petting zoo. Unusual additions to the fair this year are Capuchin monkeys racing each other on rescue dogs, sea lions showing off their aquatic skills and bears wrestling.
“It’s crazy to see the animals,” Johnson said. “When do you ever see bears or monkeys racing on dogs?”
Brayden Foster, 6, went to the fair with his family Monday. The Fayetteville Fosters included dad Trent, mom Cicely and sister Bailee, 3, making their first trip to the fair. They hit the petting zoo first and Brayden carefully reached over the cage to stroke a goat.
“We just brought out the kids to see everything and have some fun,” Trent Foster said. “This is really the only day we could come out with Halloween coming up.”
Among the rides, Midway games and concessions were an exhibit of a 1,000-pound pig, and claims to world’s smallest horse and tiniest woman. There was also a magic show, performed by Bob Bohm.
Bohm called for volunteers and Jasmine Sauer, 8, of Locust Grove eagerly took the stage. She was at the fair with mom Elizabeth Sauer, brothers Matthew, 5, and Joshua, 11 months, and other relatives.
Jasmine stood stock still as Bohm “made” her a rabbit out of his hat.
“This is really cool,” her mother said. “We came last year and had fun so we came back.”
Watching the show were Tracy Driver with her grandsons, all of Griffin. Isaiah Sims, 5, and brother Demarcus Wright, 3, cheered on Jasmine and Bohm with cousin Jaadyn Rawsaw, 7.
“We’re just having a good time,” Driver said. “We’re ready for the food now.”
At the rides, Eli Taylor, 3, got behind the wheel of a “jalopy” with dad Jason Taylor of Fayetteville as mom Joyce Temple watched and took photos.
“I really like it,” she said. “The weather is perfect.”
The Cranford-McKinnon cousins took over the circus train as their moms, Lori McKinnon of Forsyth and Kelli Cranford of Covington, stood by. Carson and Kennedy Cranford took the lead car, followed by Madison and Taylor McKinnon and McKensy and Cason Cranford.
Johnson and Lass miss the excitement inside but they see the smiles and laughter as families stream in and out of the gates.
“A little kid hugged me once,” Lass said. “They’re all just having such a good time.”
Going to the fair just puts folks in a good mood, Johnson said.
“It brings the ‘please’ and ‘thank you’ back to our lives,” she said. “People like to have fun.”
The last day of the fair is Sunday. For admission and attraction information, visit www.georgiastatefair.org.