Monthly Archives: October 2015

Columbia County Fair Turns 50


1.-Ferris-Wheel--redTen days plus 50 years add up to infinite amounts of fun as the Columbia County Fair celebrates its golden anniversary this year. And the crowd favorite is spinning out lots of surprises.

Open for thrill seekers November 5 – 15, this year’s lineup includes an extra day, helicopter rides, 50th anniversary admission specials — 1,500 lucky people will get in free — and new attractions such as the Galaxy Girl Aerial Stunt Show, On the Edge Motorcycle Stunt Show and Wild West Show. Returning favorites include the Sea Lion Splash, Oscar the Robot, demolition derbies, master chainsaw carving artist and petting zoo.

2.-Chair-swingsThe Merchants Association of Columbia County, a non-profit organization of business volunteers, presents the fair each year at its fairgrounds on Columbia Road across from Patriots Park. Free conveniences include parking with security, golf cart shuttles, nightly entertainment and admission for kids 3 and under.

Proceeds from the fair benefit many local charities and provide scholarships to seniors from each Columbia County public high school. For more information, visit

Thursday, November 5 
Hours: 4 – 11 p.m.
Admission Special: $7; first 500 people are free
Unlimited Ride Special: $15FFA Judging: 6 p.m.
Musical Entertainment: A Thousand Horses

Friday, November 6
Hours: 5 p.m. – midnight
Admission Special: Free admission with five non-perishable items per person to be donated to Columbia County Cares; $7 without donation
Unlimited Ride Special: $20 from 9:30 p.m.-midnight
Musical Entertainment: Ray Fulcher & County Line 

Saturday, November 7
Hours: Noon – midnight
Admission Special: $7; first 250 people are free starting at 6 p.m.
Kids’ Day Special: Kids ride free noon – 1 p.m.
Musical Entertainment: Atomic Road 

3.-chainsaw-artistSunday, November 8
Hours: 1 – 11 p.m.
Admission Special: $7; $1 off with church bulletin
Unlimited Ride Special: $20
Musical Entertainment: Little Roy and Lizzie

Monday, November 9
Hours: 5 – 11 p.m.
Admission: $7
Unlimited Ride Special: $20
Musical Entertainment: The Band Kelly
Demolition Derby: 7:30 p.m.

Tuesday, November 10
Hours: 5 – 11 p.m.
Admission: $7
Unlimited Ride Special: $15
Apollo Talent Night: Ages 1-12 

Wednesday, November 11
Hours: 5 – 11 p.m.
Admission Special: $7; first 500 people are free
Unlimited Ride Special: $20
Musical Entertainment: Rock Vault
UGA Georgettes Dance Team: 6:30 p.m.

Thursday, November 12
Hours: 5 – 11 p.m.
Admission: $7
Senior Night: $3 admission for adults 55 and older with ID card
Military Appreciation Night: $3 admission with military ID
Unlimited Ride Special: $20
Apollo Talent Night: Ages 13 and up

Friday, November 13
Hours: 5 p.m. – midnight
Admission: $7
Musical Entertainment: Donna Jo Band
Demolition Derby: 7:30 p.m. 
Saturday, November 14
Hours: Noon – midnight
Admission Special: $7; first 250 people are free starting at 6 p.m.
Kids’ Day Special: Kids ride free noon – 1 p.m.
Helicopter Rides: Additional cost per ride
Musical Entertainment: The Remedy
Chainsaw Carving Auction: 9 p.m. 

Sunday, November 15
Hours: 1-11 p.m.
Admission: $7
Unlimited Ride Special: $20
Helicopter Rides: Additional cost per ride 

Strolling Through History

St. James United Methodist

Photo courtesy of St. James United Methodist Church

Churches in downtown Augusta will open their doors for visitors to take a walk through their sanctuaries and through the past on Sunday, October 25. All of the participating churches are listed on the National Register of Historic Places, and their histories represent many firsts for the community and for their denominations. However, the goal of the tour is to highlight the influence that these institutions have had on Augusta for more than 200 years.

The tour is an encore event following the success of last year’s historic church tour.

“It’s not an annual event, but last year we had such a great response. And a lot of people didn’t get to all of the churches,” says Rachel Gregory, the Sacred Heart Cultural Center rental director.

She says about 100 people came to Sacred Heart during last year’s tour, and other participating churches reported similar numbers.

“The churches want someone who hasn’t walked into a church to feel welcome,” Gregory says. “And a lot of the people who came on the tour have a history with a particular church. Maybe their parents got married there.”

Visitors can see historic places such as the oldest surviving Catholic church building in Georgia, and a church that was used as a hospital during the Civil War. They can visit the site where Civil Rights activist Dr. W.E.B. Dubois spoke in 1898 and the meeting place of Augusta’s first English-speaking Lutheran congregation. They can see the nation’s oldest independent African-American Church in continuous existence and likely the oldest religious building of Greek Orthodox design in the Southeast.

Participating churches are:

  • Catholic Church of the Most Holy Trinity
  • First Presbyterian
  • Thankful Baptist
  • St. James United Methodist
  • Metropolitan Community Church of Our Redeemer
  • First Christian
  • St. John United Methodist
  • Southern Bible Institute and Seminary (The building, an example of the Beaux-Arts architectural style, will not be open for the tour.)
  • Evangelical Lutheran Church of the Resurrection
  • Union Baptist
  • Sacred Heart Cultural Center
  • Holy Trinity Greek Orthodox
  • Springfield Baptist
  • St. Paul’s

Docents and written information will be on hand at the churches. Maps for the self-guided tour are available at any of the participating churches or online at

 If You Go:

 What: Historic Downtown Augusta Church Tour

 When: Sunday, October 25; times vary, but most of the churches will be open 1 p.m. – 5 p.m.

Where: Telfair, Greene, Walker, Reynolds and 12th streets

How Much: Free

More Info:


Dinner and a Show


Concerts Broadway BoysBring your appetites — starting this month, concertgoers can reserve a pre-show dinner at the Augusta Amusements concert series.

Local audiences can enjoy two evenings of musical entertainment when Augusta Amusements presents the Broadway Boys and Billy Joel Tribute, The Stranger featuring Mike Santoro, this month. New this year, Augusta Amusements also is offering a limited quantity of pre-show dinners at Jabez S. Hardin Performing Arts Center, where the concerts are held.

The Broadway Boys will appear Thursday, October 15. Reserved seat tickets are $43. The Broadway Boys completely reinvent classic songs by adding elements of pop, funk, gospel, jazz and folk to show tunes and classic pop songs. Performing in groups of six, the Boys explore harmonies rarely presented by Broadway singers.

The group was created in June of 2005 to play a single night at a New York City club. The overwhelming response and a packed bar brought the Boys back again for another sold-out evening.

Performances by the Broadway Boys, a collection of the hottest male voices currently working on the New York stage, have two main objectives. The singers strive to introduce audiences outside the theater community to different music genres by fusing Broadway tunes and pop styles. The group also tries to present the Broadway community and its audiences with new arrangements of familiar songs.

Billy Joel Tribute, The Stranger featuring Mike Santoro, is scheduled for Saturday, October 24. Reserved seat tickets are $35. The six-piece band offers an authentic replication of Joel’s music, which has entertained fans for decades.

Like Joel, founder and front man Santoro, the lead vocalist who also plays piano, was born and raised in Levittown, New York. The performance will feature everything from Joel’s radio hits to his classic B-sides. The singers also will perform songs by other artists such as Elton John and Paul McCartney.

The dinner includes grilled Alaskan salmon with dill sauce, rice and grain medley, kale salad and brownie cake. (Beef carving steak can be substituted for the salmon.) The dinner costs $25, which includes tax and gratuity. A glass of wine can be added for $5. Meals must be reserved at least 48 hours in advance of the show, and dinner guests must arrive between 6:30 p.m. and 7:30 p.m.

Both performances begin at 7:30 p.m. Tickets are available online at or by calling the box office at (706) 726-0366. Dinners can be reserved by calling the box office.

Lauding a Legacy


BUZZ-LANDTRUSTIt’s easy to enjoy a day along the Savannah River. But why not enjoy an evening of fun and entertainment along the river as well? Central Savannah River Land Trust will hold its annual Bash on the Banks on Thursday, October 29 at the River Island Clubhouse.

The Bash will showcase more than 100 acres of riverbank that have been protected by the Land Trust. However, the natural setting is not the event’s only attraction. The Unmentionables will provide live music, and Bird Dog Grille and T’s Restaurant will cater the meal so that people can enjoy an oyster roast and shrimp and grits. A cash bar will be available as well.

“The Bash is a celebration of our conservation successes,” says Alison Nelson, the CSRLT communications director. “We want people to partner with us and join with us in our mission to continue our efforts of conservation of special areas in the CSRA. Not only is it a time for celebrating our conservation success and joining with our members and supporters that help us to continue our mission. It’s also just an old-fashioned good time.”

A group of Phinizy Swamp Nature Park board members and volunteers founded the Land Trust in 2001, and Deke Copenhaver became its first director. The nationally accredited nonprofit organization is funded entirely by charitable donations and grants, and it has protected more than 6,000 acres of land throughout the Central Savannah River Area. Currently, the Land Trust is working on a number of projects that will preserve thousands of additional acres in the area in the next three to five years. These projects include a piece of property in Harlem, which the Land Trust owns and is working on restoring for public use.

“Since the beginning the Land Trust’s focus has been on the wild, natural, unique and irreplaceable natural areas found throughout our community,” says Hazel Cook, executive director. “Our mission is to preserve these areas that are integral to our community’s character and quality of life – forever.”

The Land Trust started its work in Columbia, Richmond and McDuffie counties. Through the years, however, it has expanded its conservation efforts into Aiken, Edgefield and Barnwell counties in South Carolina and as far upstream as Hart County and as far south as Statesboro in Georgia.

The organization has worked with local governments as well as individual neighborhoods and communities to preserve areas for public recreation and for residents’ recreation in neighborhoods such as River Island. In addition, the Land Trust has joined forces with private landowners, farmers and ranchers to preserve natural resources in the area.

“Folks drive by many of these properties every day without even knowing it,” says Cook. “But I guarantee they’d miss the trees and the fields if they were to disappear.”

The Land Trust focuses its efforts on protecting large areas of natural habitat, the major sources of our drinking water, larger forests that purify the air and grand vistas that offer scenic views.

“Public recreation is just a small part of what we do,” Cook says. “The beautiful headgates and park area near the Savannah Rapids Pavilion is a great example of a property preserved by the Land Trust, which is open to the public for recreation. 

Although the Savannah River runs through a metropolitan area of more than 500,000 people, much of the river remains untouched by development.

“It is the source of our drinking water, the powerhouse behind many local industries, the place where we spend a lazy Saturday with our kids swimming in the lake or fishing or kayaking. The list goes on,” Cook says. “Seriously where else can you find a major metropolis with such a rare and precious – and relatively unspoiled – resource at its doorstep?”

While the region has modernized in many ways, she continues, the local forests, fields, wetlands and greenspaces enhance our quality of life. In addition, because the CSRA is located on the fall line where the Lowcountry’s coastal plains meet the Upstate’s mountainous Piedmont region, the area has a diverse ecology that includes many rare or endangered plants and animals.

“While progress is certainly wonderful, if it comes at the expense of our local environment, we will all be at a loss,” says Cook. “The Land Trust is so important because we are preserving that, for everyone, in all parts of our community. And we are guaranteeing that we will be the guardians of these special places forever.”

If You Go:

What: Bash on the Banks, benefiting Central Savannah River Land Trust

When: 6 p.m. – 9 p.m. Thursday, October 2 

Where: River Island Clubhouse, Evans

How Much: $50 per individual; $90 per couple. Tickets to the event and drink tickets are available online at or at the door. Tickets also can be purchased by mailing a check to Central Savannah River Land Trust, Attention Bash Tickets, P.O. Box 148, Augusta, GA 30903.

More Info:

Sweet & Scary — I hate Halloween, which may explain why I love it

Southern Hospitality

After having spent the last several weeks of summer trying to lose weight — forgive me if I brag a little, but it actually worked — you can imagine how annoyed I am to see candy sprouting up like dandelions in the spring.

It haunts me at the checkout at the grocery store, makes me sick to see it at the drugstore, and tempts the bargain-hunter in me with those two-for-one deals at the dollar store. It’s free at the dry cleaners. Maybe they’re hoping you’ll drop a Milk Dud on your $150 pair of greige linen slacks, necessitating additional business for them. At the gym, there are bowls of Tootsie Rolls, free for the taking. Don’t they realize eating this candy will add rolls to their clients? Wait, of course they do . . .

I would just as soon the Halloween holiday be eliminated. Banish it from the calendars. Outlaw the dang thing! Nothing kills a diet quite like it. (You do know what D.I.E.T. stands for, right? Did I Eat That? Because, let’s face it: scrawny celery and carrot sticks, skinny chicken breasts and quinoa don’t exactly satisfy, especially when your tummy is growling and you can’t remember if you ate or not.)

But the retailers and stores are bound and determined to trick (not treat) us into submission, especially with those enticing, brightly colored, cute-as-buttons, fun-sized bags of candy. They seem so innocuous. How many calories can there possibly be in a handful of those darling little Milky Way bars? Let me tell you: a lot more than you think. 

The other thing that gets me is the annual onslaught of those darned specialty candies like marshmallow circus peanuts, candy corn (did you know they make peanut butter cup, caramel macchiato and s’mores candy corn now?), orange yogurt-covered mini pretzels and Hershey’s white chocolate candy corn bits chocolate bars.

If I don’t buy them now, I tell myself, then I’ll have to wait another whole year to find them again. This screwy reasoning of mine also says it won’t hurt to buy a bag of Skittles and some more Milky Ways while I’m at it.

Halloween is nothing but a money-making scam. If you don’t believe it, just look at the shops that pop up in late summer and sell strictly Halloween items. That said, I do love to decorate my house for the holiday. I don’t go all out like some neighbors and string black and orange lights, plastic skeletons and spider webs in the front yard. But I do put out my stacked orange pumpkin statue with the black hat and slap a big orange bow on my door wreath.

 And, truth be told, I finish off my decorating with bowls of — yep, you guessed it — candy. I guess I’m a sucker for Halloween after all.

 – Ann Ipock

Author of Life is Short, But It’s Wide; Life is Short, So Read This Fast; and Life is Short, I wish I Was Taller