Southwest Georgia Regional Fair kicks off

| November 4, 2016

By Noelani Mathews | WCTV Eyewitness News

ALBANY, Ga. (WCTV) — In Southwest Georgia, the smell of concession stand food can only mean one thing — the celebration of the 70th Annual Southwest Georgia Regional Fair.

It’s the biggest privately-owned fair in the state, run by Albany’s Exchange Club.

Proceeds go right back to local youth through charity and scholarships, and those kids also happen to be their biggest fans.

Carla Harris, of Romper Room Playschool, says, “I think it’s really important to get all of our students out because majority of them don’t have that chance to actually come out.”

The fair opened at 4 p.m. Thursday.

Thousands of preschoolers got a private tour, while vendors set up.

They say it’s a field trip the kids get excited about every year.

We asked the kids what their favorite thing about the fair is.

Nearly all of the children say it’s getting to be face-to-face with their favorite furry friends.

“Mine’s the puppy!” one child said.

“Mines a zebra!” said another child.

Parent Santanna Lucas says, “They’ve been excited, waiting, even with my son, he was really excited. He woke up and said ‘I’m ready to go to the fair!'”

Sam’s Path Petting Zoo takes hands-on learning to another level,
letting kids touch– and even hold– the most unique animals.

The petting zoo has around 50 exotic animals, including an 8-week-old marmoset named Baby.

Jodi Gray, with Sam’s Path Petting Zoo, says, “To see a goat, or a camel, or a baby marmoset or a kangaroo, they’ve never seen it before so it just completely blows their mind.”

Owners Jodi and Jeff Gray say they’ve been doing this for more than 30 years– using the fair as just one way to bring their family to yours.

“It makes all that hard work that we just did just completely worth it because the kids, the way they smile, like today the kids were just coming through smiling,” says Jodi. “It’s a happy feeling. It’s a really good feeling.”

Creating a happiness that’s contagious, and sharing this memory until next year.

A fun fact about the animals in that petting zoo: the owners say many of them are celebrities, featured on TV for commercials like Zaxby’s, Aflac, and even various Tyler Perry movies.

They’ll be there until the last day of the fair, which is this Sunday.

For more information on the Southwest Georgia Regional Fair, head to

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