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Renovated carousel nearly ready for the Exchange Club Fair

JULIA V. PENDLEY/THE DAILY LEADER — Mike Walley and Bill Smith (from left) talk about what needs to be done next on the carousel project. A mural and sleighs will be added this week. The late-1930s model carousel will be up and running at the Exchange Club Fair, which kicks off Saturday.

JULIA V. PENDLEY/THE DAILY LEADER — Mike Walley and Bill Smith (from left) talk about what needs to be done next on the carousel project. A mural and sleighs will be added this week. The late-1930s model carousel will be up and running at the Exchange Club Fair, which kicks off Saturday.

Saturday will mark the opening of the 61st annual Exchange Club Fair and also the introduction of the newly renovated carousel.

The 1930s-model carousel has been at the Exchange Club Park for more than 30 years, and volunteers have been hard at work trying to make sure it is ready for Saturday’s first day of the annual fair.

Mike Walley, fair chairman, said all the horses were hand painted by volunteers, and he estimated at least 300 hours of volunteer time have been put into the 30 horses.

“It’s a work in progress,” said Bill Smith, a longtime volunteer working with the carousel.

All 30 horses are metal, which Smith said was the most important reason to renovate them. Nowadays, all new carousel horses are made of plastic.

Walley said the fair will also have plenty of good food and a four-wheeler raffle. Gideons will be present handing out Bibles to children, and child abuse prevention literature will also be distributed.

“It’ll just be a good time,” Walley said.

No matter what the weather looks like, he said the fair will be open. In the event of lightning, the rides will not run, but they will restart as soon as the lightning stops.

The fair funds the Exchange Club and allows them to maintain the 14-acre property as well as provide scholarships and donations throughout the area.

“This is homefolks,” Walley said. “Your neighbors run them; your neighbors maintain them. Everything goes back to the community.”

Gates will open at 6:30 p.m., and scores of volunteers will be present to welcome attendees. Tickets will cost $1 a piece, and rides will take either 2 or 3 tickets. The fair will run through Aug. 3, except for Sunday.

Anyone interested in volunteering, donating or just needing directions can call Walley at 601-754-2697.