Commissioners change dates for county fair

Published 1:35 pm Saturday, June 22, 2019

By Ken Gustafson


AMERICUS — The dates for the revived Americus-Sumter County Fair have been changed to Oct. 9-14. Sumter County Parks and Recreation Director Tim Estes made the announcement at the Sumter County Board of Commissioners (BOC) June meeting on Tuesday at the Sumter County Courthouse. Commissioner Scott Roberson, District 4, was not present at the meeting.

The original dates for the fair were scheduled for Oct. 11-20. Andrew Stringfellow announced those dates at the board’s June work session on June 11. Stringfellow is the president and CEO of A Community afFair, a company that conducts fairs and festivals throughout Georgia.

However, it turns out there was a schedule conflict between A Community afFair and the Junior Service League (JSL). According to Estes, he was contacted by a JSL representative who expressed their displeasure at having been told that they couldn’t make arrangements to rent the fairgrounds more than 90 days in advance, yet A Community afFair was allowed to rent the fairgrounds on the dates the JSL wanted to rent them, which was more than 90 days in advance. The JSL had planned to rent the fairgrounds for Saturday, Oct. 19, to host its annual Cow Poke Carnival, which is the JSL’s biggest fundraiser of the year.

Estes told the board that Stringfellow had given each of the commissioners a packet at the work session that was different than the one he received. Estes said that his packet stated that the dates for the fair were to be held Sept. 27-Oct. 6. However, the packets Stringfellow gave to the commissioners at the work session stated that the dates for the fair were scheduled for Oct. 11-20. “I didn’t know that the dates in your packets were different than the one I got,” Estes told the board. “Nothing raised a red flag at the meeting last week to make me see that.”

Estes said he contacted Stringfellow to find out what was going on. Stringfellow told Estes that the people bringing the rides down to the fairgrounds couldn’t do it on Sept. 27 and that he thought he had sent Estes an email explaining. It turns out that Stringfellow did not notify Estes about the change of plans. “I told him (Stringfellow) what the problem was and that he couldn’t do it if it included Oct. 19,” Estes said. “I told him that they (JSL) were one of the organizations that were grandfathered in when we took over the fairgrounds.” Estes went on to say that Stringfellow proposed Oct. 9-14 to be the dates for the fair. “It’s a shorter rental than what it was. It was a 10-day rental. Now it will be a six-day rental,” Estes said. At the work session the previous Tuesday, the board unanimously voted to grant Stringfellow’s company a 50 percent discount for a 10-day rental of the fairgrounds to oversee the fair. According to Estes, even though the rental has been cut from 10 days to six, Stringfellow wanted to know if he would still be granted the 50 percent discount. “I told him that he would be granted the discount with the caveat that he still does the improvements that he was planning to do and he agreed to that,” Estes said. It was decided between Estes and Stringfellow that Oct. 9-14 will be the dates for the Americus-Sumter County Fair and that the JSL will have its annual Cow Poke Carnival on Oct. 19.

The board held the second of two public hearings to discuss the request from Katherine Stewart Smarr, owner of Kate’s Country Store, to have a license to sell alcoholic beverages off premises. Kate’s Country Store is located at 4038 U.S. Highway 280 East in Cobb. The first public hearing on the matter was held at the board’s work session on June 11. Board Chairman Clay Jones asked Smarr if she had any comments to make. She declined to comment. He then asked if anyone wanted to speak out in favor of or against the license being granted. No one spoke. At that point, Jones declared the public hearing closed and asked if any of the commissioners had any comments. County Clerk Rayetta Volley stated that Kate’s Country Store has met all of the requirements necessary to have the license. “The Sheriff’s Department has given approval. Code Enforcement has given approval, and the fire department has given approval,” Volley said. Jones asked for a motion for approval to grant an alcoholic beverage license to Kate’s Country Store. Commissioner George Torbert made the motion for approval and Commissioner Thomas Jordan seconded it. It passed unanimously.