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56th Exchange fair kicks off Saturday

The Brookhaven Exchange Club Park has received a week’s worth ofattention from the club’s members as they repair, clean up andspruce up the grounds in preparation for an expected 5,000 visitorsper night next week during the 56th annual Exchange Club Fair.

The fair will begin Saturday at 6:30 p.m. and last until after10 p.m., and follow the same hours every night the next week exceptSunday. Club President Lynn Boyte said the weeklong event drawsvisitors from all over Lincoln and the surrounding counties.

“It’s usually packed out every night,” he said. “There’s no wayto come up with an exact number – they come from every differentdirection.”

Boyte said he and the rest of the club are expecting the 2008installment of the fair to be another in a long line of successfulfairs since the event was first held in 1952.

“It’s successful because this is a tradition that’s been goingon for 50 years,” he said. “A lot of people participate justbecause of what the club stands for and the example it sets.”

The club, on the local and national level, stands for theprevention of child abuse, and the annual fair serves as the club’ssingle largest fundraiser for a variety of organizations thatreceive contributions.

Past president Bob Morris said the exchange club last year gave$3,000 to the Southwest Mississippi Child Advocacy Center inMcComb, $3,000 to the Brookhaven Junior Auxiliary for youth workand $500 to the Make-A-Wish Foundation.

“About 90 percent of our donations are centered around kids,”Morris said. “The National Exchange Club’s primary goal is theprevention of child abuse, and as a member of the nationalexchange, it’s our goal as well. There’s a lot of abused childrenin this world, unfortunately, and we try to do whatever we can forthem.”

Money raised at the fair will go into the club’s account for thepark’s upkeep, the club’s activities and donations to child abuseprevention centers. Aside from money raised at vendors, games andfood stands, the club has been selling chances for a four-wheeleragain this year. The winner will be announced Saturday, Aug. 2, onthe final night of the fair.

More than 60 local businesses have donated a variety of items tobe used as prizes at different activities throughout the fair.

“We have a lot of community-minded people that help us do thesethings,” Boyte said.