Over the next several days, more than 200,000 people will head to the Alabama National Fair. It's a turnout that has a huge economic impact on the River Region, beginning with the charities who receive the bulk of the proceeds.
This year, the fair hopes to raise $300,000 for local charities. That's like 50,000 rides on the ferris wheel. Beginning this weekend, people around the River Region are doing their part to help reach that goal. "This has been our tradition for the past four years now, so we can come out and spend the day," said Andy Coker, who was at the fair with his family.
People are also spending money. Most of the people we talked to say their families pay about $100 between tickets, rides and fair food. All that cash will go straight back to the community to help fund local charities including the YMCA, ChildProtect and Camp Chandler.
Some fair visitors tell us that impacts how they see the money they spend. "I actually just found that out. I think yes, that you know, kinda makes it more worthwhile you know, to know that some of our money is going to help worthwhile charities," said Susan McKenzie, who was at the fair with her daughter.
However, non-profits aren't the only ones benefiting from the fun. According to local studies, the fair will impact our economy by more than $7 million. Fair organizers say, even in tight times, people are willing to spend to support the cause. "When times are tough, things like the fair, it's an entertainment venue, a place where people can kind of come and maybe forget some of those things, and have a good time and good, wholesome family fun," said Ed Reifenburg, President of the 2012 Fair.
It's a fun time that also helps out vendors, a third of which are from the River Region. It's another reason Coker says his family returns every year. "I think it brings people in from out of town to come into Montgomery, so I mean, from an economical standpoint, I think it brings money into town," he said.
The fair is organized by the Kiwanis Club of Montgomery. This year, they hope to break the $300,000 mark, which would set a new record. The Alabama National Fair runs through Sunday, October 14.