Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Fair Lights Up at Night; Crowds Rev Up as Sun Goes Down

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Fair Lights Up at Night; Crowds Rev Up as Sun Goes Down

Article excerpt

Byline: Roger Bull, Times-Union staff writer

There were small lines at the gates, before the fair even opened. But cotton candy was already being spun and apples were coated with peanuts. And when the crowd started filtering in, it wasn't large. Some of the rides and booths weren't even quite ready. But then it started moving with the timeless lights and screams, the smell of cotton and grilled onions.

The Greater Jacksonville Fair opened last night. The fair averaged almost 40,000 people a day during its 12-day run last year. Weather is a big part, and last night it was perfect.

There was chicken on a stick, pig on a stick, shrimp, apples and pickles on a stick. Not to mention the ubiquitous corn dog. (Does anyone eat a corn dog anywhere else but at a fair?)

Shoot baskets and pool, water pistols and BB guns, for the prizes. Ride an elephant or camel for $4. Polaroid photo an extra $5.

LeElyn Lindsay and Jay Linx were new to all this. They had driven down from New York City to the fair to try a new career. She's a pianist and musical director in and around New York. He's a ship engineer. But they had set up a booth at the fair, selling temporary tattoos and various glow-in-the-dark accessories.

Lindsay was particularly excited about a small flashing light that sold for $5.

"It fits in your belly button," she said. "I'm told these are really hot. We're hoping to retire."

First in line at the main gate were Dick and Barbara Curtis and Vivian Wagner. They'd driven up from Hawthorne for the fair. The Curtises weren't sure what they wanted to do first. But Wagner, who turns 80 in a couple of weeks, knew.

"Let's do the spook house," she said, and off they went.

Right behind them were the Newtons from Orange Park. Parents Emma and Eddie were heading for the animal exhibits, but 13-year-old Byron said, "I might just walk around a bit. …

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