The midway opened at 6 p.m. Wednesday night, behind the old Mallory building, with plenty of rides, food and fun as the carnival, owned by Geren Rides Inc. of Valdosta, GA, prepares for a weekend full of family entertainment.
“It’s strictly family fun,” said Frank Sutton with the Geren company. “Everything we have is dedicated strictly to the families out there.”
Sutton, who oversees operations of the carnival, stated the fun would last through Sunday night with approximately 15 rides and a variety of games and food vendors for visitors to enjoy.
“We want them to come out and have a good time,” stated Sutton. “We have plenty of ride discount coupons. They can come out and ride all night long for $15.”
Sutton explained single ride tickets are also available for those only wanting to experience ‘a ride at a time’.
Geren Rides is in its fourth generation as a family business.
The 85 year-old company is still run by Jerry and Joanna Geren. And the family tradition continues with Glen and Diane Geren, as well as with granddaughter Hilary.
And tradition is a large part of the Geren’s philosophy.
Visitors to the carnival will notice a seat on the Ferris wheel that is covered and unavailable for rides. He said the tradition is intended to show respect to the family of a deceased woman, who worked with the carnival.
“We had a person in the carnival business die last week and part of her family is traveling with us,” said Sutton. “In true carnival tradition over the years, they will close a Ferris wheel seat and cover it.”
But an assortment of rides will be on hand for thrill seekers including The Zipper, The Scrambler, bumper cars, a Super Slide, The Hurricane and, even, the Fishy Jumper for the little ones.
“The (Fishy Jumper) is a ride that generated from the late 40’s,” stated Sutton. “It’s one of those rides that is still being manufactured today.”
Sutton described the extensive maintenance and safety checks all rides must go through.
“We have two traveling (safety) supervisors,” said Sutton. “That’s all they do is go from ride to ride to ride to ride, checking to make sure that everybody is doing everything the way that they are supposed to do.”
He also explained every bolt, pen and part of every ride is checked daily, as well as after initial set up, to ensure the safety of all riders.
Sutton invites everyone to come down and get a snow cone, cotton candy or funnel cake and enjoy a thrilling ride anytime between now and Sunday night.