The Heritage Village at the Cumming Country Fair & Festival gives a window into what life was like in the early days of the city of Cumming, but city officials will use this year to gauge interest in some of those attractions before deciding whether or not to reduce them next year.
At a work session on Tuesday, the Cumming City Council voted 5-0 to operate this year’s Heritage Village as usual but have members of the fair’s advisory board observe and come back with a recommendation for next year. Reducing the exhibits to the weekends of the fair to cut expenses had been considered by city officials due to the cost of operation.
“That fair was created for the heritage of the community and the county and city to see where the county and city came from,” said Councilman Lewis Ledbetter, who asked that the item be added to the agenda. “Everybody can’t come to the fair on the weekend. A lot of people come during the week.”
Heritage Village operates historic machines such as a cotton gin, syrup mill and sawmill, along with a historic schoolhouse, post office and barber shop among other exhibits.
City Administrator Phil Higgins said reducing to only the weekend was proposed as a cost-saving measure since operating the machines can get pricey.
“Last year, if you look just at the cost of running those displays, I’m pretty sure it was pretty close to $70,000 just on the displays. That’s counting labor, we don’t have volunteers and more … and materials,” Higgins said. “The cotton alone is $30,000 for the cotton gin.”
Higgins said operating only on both three-day weekends would mean the exhibits would still happen six of the 11 days.
Ledbetter said the exhibits were mostly donated and are important to teaching youth the history of the area.
“The sawmill and the cotton gin are real skill positions, just anybody can’t do that,” he said.
Mayor Troy Brumbalow said seeing how popular the exhibits are this year can help inform a decision for next year.
“If we’re going to do it, then it’s one of those I’d want somebody to go check and say, ‘Well, we had 12 people watching the cotton gin,’ or ‘We had five people watching on a Tuesday night,’” he said. “Then you’ve got the information next year to say, ‘Well, was it worth it?’”
This year’s fair will be held Oct. 4-14 at the Cumming Fairgrounds, located at 235 Castleberry Road. More information is available at CummingFair.net.