Sumter Commissioners to bring back county fair

Published 10:34 am Saturday, June 15, 2019

By Ken Gustafson


AMERICUS — After several years of absence, the Americus-Sumter County Fair is coming back. The Sumter County Board of Commissioners approved a rental  agreement to bring back the fair this fall at its monthly work session on Tuesday at the Sumter County Courthouse.

The rental agreement is between the county and an Atlanta-based company called A Community affair which specializes in conducting fairs and festivals throughout the state of Georgia.

The agreement states that the company will come in and operate the fair at a discounted rate of $2,500 for the 10 days that the fair is in open. Sumter County Parks and Recreation Director Tim Estes told the Americus Times-Recorder that the normal rental rate the county charges to use the Sumter County Fairgrounds is $500 per day, but A Community afFair has requested a 10-day rental of the fairgrounds at a 50 percent discounted rate. According to Estes, the county has agreed to give the company this discount. “They (A Community afFair) will pay the county $2,500 in exchange for the discount,” Estes said. “They will make some facility improvements, such as replacing lights, painting, and cleaning the animal area.”

Estes told the board that he met with A Community afFair President Andrew Stringfellow a month ago to discuss the possibility of the company overseeing and conducting the fair. “I have talked with several government entities that they’ve done that with, such as the city of Riverdale and the Clayton County government. They have given nothing but very positive reviews, even to the point of encouraging us to do it,” Estes told the board. Estes said the Parks and Recreation director in Riverdale told him that the facility was cleaner than what it was before A Community afFair came in.

Stringfellow was at the work session and made his presentation to the board concerning how the revived Americus-Sumter County Fair will be conducted.

“We do a lot of festivals in small towns and big towns here in Georgia and we would love to bring back the Americus-Sumter County Fair this fall and revive one of the greatest treasures here in Americus and Sumter County,” Stringfellow said. He briefed the board on the various 25 rides for adults and children that will be at the fair, as well as other activities for children and families, such as a farm expo and a talent show. Stringfellow stated that there will also be a “Welcome to Americus Sumter” event, which will include the businesses of Americus and Sumter County at the opening of the fair. “This will let people know what businesses we have in the community,” Stringfellow said.

According to Stringfellow, the dates for the Americus-Sumter County Fair will be Friday through Sunday, Oct. 11-20.

Stringfellow also stated that he and his company would like to come in and clean up the fairgrounds before the fair begins to give it the “Expo Fair” appeal. He went on to stress that there will always be something new and exciting at the Americus-Sumter County Fair each and every year.

Commissioner George Torbert asked Stringfellow if his company plans to bring in its own security since Sumter County has a limited amount of police officers. Stringfellow replied that they plan to use an Atlanta-based security company to provide security at the fair. They also plan to hire local, off-duty law enforcement officers to provide extra security. Commissioner Mark Waddell asked if there is an agreement that County Attorney Kimberly Reid could look over. Reid was not present at the meeting due to illness. Estes replied that there is an extensive fairground rental agreement already in place and that A Community afFair has more than met its end of the bargain. Torbert asked Stringfellow about insurance requirements. Stringfellow replied that his company will take care of all the insurance requirements and will add Americus, Sumter County, and the fairgrounds as insured on their insurance policy. Stringfellow went on to say that as far as entertainment is concerned, his company plans to use local people to give them some exposure at the fairgrounds. As far as hours of operation, Stringfellow said the fair will be open from 5-10 p.m. Monday through Friday, 1-10 p.m. Saturday and Sunday, and possibly until 11 p.m. at the latest.

Board Chair Clay Jones asked for a motion to approve the 50 percent reduced rental amount for the fairgrounds rental agreement for A Community afFair to operate the Americus-Sumter County Fair. Waddell made a Torbert seconded it. It passed unanimously.

A public hearing was called to discuss the request for an alcoholic beverage license for Kate’s Country Store, at 4038 U.S. Highway 280 East in Cobb. Katherine Stewart Smarr, owner of the establishment, had petitioned the county for the license. The property was once a fast-food restaurant called Fat Boys and was owned by Frank Goodin. Smarr is purchasing the property. “It was checked out by the fire department and they passed everything. They were checked out by Code Enforcement and there were things that needed to be corrected, but they’ve been corrected now,” County Clerk Rayetta Volley told the board. She said the Sumter County Sheriff’s Office has given its approval for the store to have the alcoholic beverage license. Chairman Jones asked Smarr if she had anything to say. Smarr simply stated that she hopes the board will grant her the license.

Tuesday’s public hearing was the first of two public hearings required on the matter, with the second one to be held June 18. Jones asked if there was anyone who wanted to speak against the license being granted. No one did so. The decision whether or not to grant the license to Kate’s Country Store will be made by the board at the second public hearing during its regular monthly meeting next Tuesday.