VALDOSTA -- After more than 30 years, the American Legion Fair is still attracting the young and old to Lowndes County Civic Center off

Hill Avenue. The fair has

been in town since Oct. 31, and will close for the season tonight.

Walking through the midway, visitors will find rows of booths with stuffed animals waiting to be won. In the middle of the fair, the sounds of children laughing and machinery working and the smell of hot dogs, cotton candy and other foods fill the air. A tent, filled with resting parents and hungry children, sits next to the many food vendors.

Off to the side, cattle are being led by children from the Valdosta-Lowndes 4-H club, as the children prepare to show their prized animals.

It is a sight, a sound and a smell that many people have grown so used to, they have to come back every year.

"Ever since I was a little girl I have been coming to the fair," Sylvia Pierce, from Valdosta, said. "Every year I gear up for it. It's just as exciting now as it was then."

Jerome Nathan has also been coming to the fair since he was little, a tradition his parents started more than 40 years ago. Since that time, Nathan continues to visit the fair each year with his family, hoping the tradition of coming to the fair will continue with them.

"I've been coming to this fair for 40 years," he said.

"You kind of inherit the fair from your family, and hopefully mine will feel the same way years from now. My parents went, and now I go. It's always something to look forward to."

Even the young make a tradition of going with their friends every year. Shar'Neeshus Wright, 15, has been coming to the fair with her friends for years.

"The rides, the food -- it's all great," she said. "My friends and I come all the time."

The fair is not only a tradition with the fairgoers, but with many of the vendors as well. Some have been traveling with the fair for years, including Patricia Conley, from North Carolina.

"I've been traveling with this fair for eight years," she said. "The kids is what makes the experience so great. Seeing them play games, win prizes and have a good time -- the kids are what its all about."

To contact reporter Michelle Taylor, please call 229-244-3400, ext. 245.

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