Shelby County Fair supports local youth

COLUMBIANA – Thousands of Shelby County residents paid a visit to the 68th annual Shelby County Fair, which was held at the Shelby County Exhibition Center, from Monday, Oct. 2 through Saturday, Oct. 7. The fair was organized by the Columbiana Kiwanis Club and this year’s theme was “Make it, grow it, sew it and show it”

Kiwanis Club President Sid Wheeler referred to the Shelby County Fair as a “genuine fair” because it featured exhibits, contests, games, live entertainment, a petting zoo, a pageant, carnival rides and vendors.

“You have to have livestock and other exhibits so that it meets the (Alabama Fair) Association’s standards,” Wheeler said. “Otherwise you would just have a carnival. There is a carnival, but it’s inside of the fair.

Wheeler said what they are most proud of is how the fair promotes community involvement and raises funds for local church, school, civic and athletic groups, especially for youth.

“When this is over, we’ll have $20,000 to $30,000 left to give to scout troops and anything that we can find for a child to do,” Wheeler said.

Wheeler said youth from the four organizations sponsored by the Kiwanis Club, among other groups, served as volunteers. Youth performing arts groups from around the county provided entertainment. Students with special needs from Shelby County High School assisted the Kiwanis Club with setting up the exhibits.

“I thought that was really neat,” Wheeler said. “I have a special needs son and sometimes people don’t take as much time with kids with special needs as they do with other children.”

Carnival rides were provided by Kissel Entertainment of Decatur. Wheeler said this year’s fair offered three new rides in addition to new competitions, vendors, entertainment and other activities.

“We add something new every year. If we can see something that people would be interested in, we add a new category to our competitions,” Wheeler said. “This year, we’ve completely filled everything to the edge.”

Madison Kissel, with Kissel Entertainment, said the fair also served as a cost-efficient opportunity to have fun.

“What else can you do for $12? Here, you can see all of the exhibits, see the youth choirs sing and dance and ride all of the rides.” Kissel said. “It honestly is a once-in-a-lifetime thing where you make memories. You can’t get much better of a deal to get quality family time.”

“This is affordable enough that anyone can come to the fair,” Wheeler added.

Birmingham resident Caroline Bobo echoed that sentiment when she explained why she came to the Shelby County Fair, instead of a fair closer to her.

“I grew up in Selma, so I love a small-town fair,” Bobo said.

Bobo’s daughter, Ella Kate, said she especially enjoyed the Ferris wheel.

“I like it because it goes around and around,” Ella Kate said.