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Fair caps festive run
Plans begin for 2009
The Fair Well 1 es
Caroline Draughon and Sydney Kuester, both 7, watch the midway below Saturday on the sky lift at the Cumming Country Fair & Festival. In the lift behind them is Sam Kuester, Drew Kuester, 3, and Mark Kuester. The fair wrapped up its annual run on Sunday. - photo by Emily Saunders

Other than a one-day washout, the 14th annual Cumming Country Fair & Festival was "a great run," said Cumming's fairgrounds administrator.

"It's always tough to make up that one rain day," Dave Horton said. "But we were real pleased with the numbers. We had great weather every day except Wednesday."

The fair closed Oct. 8, its seventh night, as the forecast called for severe weather.

Still, this year's event drew 107,741 people, about 10,000 shy of last year's totals. Horton said a bad economy and the high price of gas also were attendance factors.

"All that affected us some, but not to any great extent," Horton said. "Overall, I'm real pleased with the numbers, and I think it was a good one."

Lacey Payne of Forsyth County agreed.

"It was great this year," said Payne, who went twice during the fair's 11-day run of Oct. 2-12. "We went the first night, and we came back Friday night to see Jon Anderson."

Payne said her husband, James, is a lifetime fan of Anderson and was excited to see the country music star perform.

"He did a good job," she said.

Horton said Anderson got help from the staff of the Indian Village on his hit song "Seminole Wind."

"They were in full regalia," Horton said. "They danced in front of the stage, and Jon Anderson liked that and that crowd went crazy."

Horton said he's already begun planning for next year's fair, though he hasn't locked in on specific musicians or other entertainers.

"I always plan for the next year to be even better," he said. "I'm always looking forward to setting up our new ground acts and entertainers ... it's a year-round process."

Many of the acts gather at the International Association of Fairs and Expositions, an annual event that allows entertainers to advertise their services. Horton said he will attend the gathering, which is scheduled for December.

Horton said free admission days helped this year's fair, particularly in light of the struggling economy.

"It gave people a chance to get in if they were worried about admission," he said.

City of Cumming Police Chief Mike Eason said the fair came and went with "no significant problems."

"We had good crowds, had good folks and pretty good fair weather," Eason said.

He said there were a few incidents of kids spitting off rides.

"We had a few and they were evicted from the fairgrounds as part of the process," he said.

Law enforcement got a little help at the fair this year, he said, from Polaris on Veterans Memorial Boulevard and McAllister Retail on Castleberry Road.

Polaris loaned two all-terrain vehicles and McAllister provided two motor scooters for authorities to use during the fair.

"It increased the mobility of the officers so they were more visible," he said. "With the number of officers we had, if they were on foot, you couldn’t move around and be seen as much.

"Plus with the (ATVs) we were able to help transport handicapped people and things like that throughout the park on occasions as well."

Eason said AT&T donated a trailer that served as a police operations booth and will be used for future events.

Staff writer Julie Arrington contributed to this report.