Crowds lighter, but Exchange fair still fun for all

Published 6:00 pm Sunday, August 7, 2011

The smell of funnel cakes and cotton candy,the roar of a rollercoaster racing on metal tracks, and the sightof families, friends and people young and old have left theExchange Club Park until next year.

    Saturday marked the last day of the Exchange Club’s annual fairheld at the park in Brookhaven. And although the organization’sstaff and volunteers seemed to agree that attendance was lowcompared to previous years, no less fun and games were had at theannual affair.

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    “It’s still a fun and safe place for people to come have a goodtime and drop their kids off if they want to,” said Calvin Lyons,who makes the popular cotton candy for fair-goers. “Mom and Dad canlet you out and not have to worry.”

    Lyons offered a number of possible reasons for lower attendancethis year.

    “I think it’s been a little slower because of a combination of theheat and the economy,” he continued. “But it’s been a lot of fun.The thrill is to see the look in the kids’ eyes when I hand them acotton candy.”

    Lyons has been a volunteer at the fair for 21 years, and he said henever grows tired of coming out to see the excitement.

    “And the big kids like ’em, too,” he said as he handed a cottoncandy to a father to share with his baby daughter.

    Ticket booth worker Gwen Dyess also attributed the slowness thisyear to the heat and the economy.

    “We’ve had some good nights this year,” she said. “But it’sdefinitely been a little slower than in years past. I think theheat has really kept a lot of people at home or doing other thingswhere they don’t have to be outside.”

    Polly McCall of Brookhaven brought her four grandchildren out tothe fair to enjoy the last night.

    “This is our second time to come this year, and they love it,”McCall said. “I brought my little boy here back in 1957 and I’vebeen coming ever since. Now I bring my grandchildren who are ages5-16. At least now I can leave them with the 16-year old and sitdown and enjoy myself.”

    McCall also agreed there did not seem to be the same size crowds asthere have been in the past.

    Steve Smith, who has been in charge of the “Chunk and Dunk” gamefor the last three or four years, thought the fair was a success inlight of the country’s current financial situation and theseemingly lower numbers attending the fair.

    “I think we’ve done good this year considering the economy,” Smithsaid. “I’m not sure how everyone else is doing, but I’ve donepretty well over here at the Chunk and Dunk.

    “It’s been a lot of fun like it always is,” Smith continued. “Plusit’s good for some of these volunteers who are Boy Scouts and GirlScouts. They’re getting their services hours for helping out. Soit’s a great thing no matter what.”

    Regardless of the numbers, workers and attendees alike enjoyed thisyear’s Exchange Club Fair, which can always be counted on to be afun, carefree family event to say ‘goodbye’ to summer and ‘hello’to the school year.