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This year's Fair second-best attended


After tons of food and fun, the 2014 Georgia National Fair officially ended Sunday night.

This fair was the second-best attended in its 25 years.

"2010 was actually our highest and we were about 10,000 off of that," said Fairgrounds spokeswoman Stacy Campbell,"But, we're very happy to have at least gotten a record fair this year."

Campbell says around 450,000 people came to this year's event.

And while 2010 may have the highest total attendance, last Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday marked the largest daily crowd attendance for a Georgia National Fair.

"We couldn't have asked for better leadership from our authority and a better participation from our staff and a better turnout from our fair goers, so we're very happy," Campbell said.

She says it will be at least a week until the fair's total profit is calculated.

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Governor candidates spar on education, more


Candidates vying to be Georgia's next governor met Tuesday night in an hour-long debate at the Georgia National Fairgrounds and Agricenter in Perry.

They are Democrat Jason Carter, Republican incumbent Nathan Deal, and Libertarian Andrew Hunt.

And it didn't matter much which candidate they supported, the crowd at Tuesday night's debate rallied loud.

Faircrackers and best buds for 25 years


They're an important part of what keeps the fair going. Faircrackers volunteer at the Georgia National Fairgrounds and help out wherever they're needed.

Best buds Virginia Gay and Bessie Dukes have been pitching in for 25 years. "We do get called firecrackers, which is OK because we're a hot group," said Gay.

One year, the friends dressed as clowns, said Dukes.

They even started a fair tradition: putting pins on their vests that they got as gifts or bought themselves.

Gay once had to kiss a frog. "I was hoping he'd turn into a prince, but he just stayed a frog. They would line up the frogs and the frogs would jump to the finish line, and my frog won," she said.

But you don't have to be an amphibian to meet the Faircrackers.

"I tell everybody to come to the circus because I'm the trapeze lady," said Gay.

Bunnies bring home big prize


Ryan McDuffie is only 13, but he's a seasoned pro when it comes to rabbit showmanship.

Three years ago, his 6th grade teacher told him about the opportunity.

"So when I saw the pictures of the rabbits, I was hooked. They're so sweet and you can't cuddle with a cow or a pig," says McDuffie.

One bunny eventually grew to 19.

He has two breeds: the Holland Lop and the Mini Lop.

Now he has not one, not two, but 5 grand champions in his herd. Two are real stars.

"This is Brad Pitt. He's a broken blue mini lop. When we got Brad Pitt, we just had to name her Angelina Jolie."

There's a lot of work to get them show-ready, starting weeks ahead of time.

"You have to brush them, clip their nails, and make sure their tattoo isn't faded, so you'll know which one is yours," McDuffie says.

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Georgia Grown: Vidalia Valley onions


"An apple among onions." That's how Vince Stanley describes the Vidalia onion.

"When you see a Vidalia onion, it's still that nice, flat, onion, nice and round and flat," he explained, "It's most enjoyed raw, there's no doubt about it. It just doesn't leave that bad taste."

Stanley is a third-generation farmer and general manager of Vidalia Valley.

The farm spans six generations and almost 40 years.

"We've actually been farming onions now since 1975. Started out with 5 acres and now we have roughly 1,200," he said.

Along with onions, Vidalia Valley grows watermelons, sweet potatoes, bell peppers, and more.

The farm is just one of many that sells its Georgia Grown products at the Georgia National Fair in Perry.

The farm's Sales and Marketing Director, Lauren Dees, calls the fair a huge asset.

Sisters tackle Georgia Fair's 4-H competition


Every year, the Georgia National Fair boasts good food, fun rides and countless events.

But it's also where the 4-H organization, more than a century old, hosts competitions for youth and families.

At the Vorisek home, the menu can be mixed.

This time, two chefs are tackling venison with mashed potatoes.

Sisters Katy and Anna Vorisek have been competing for more than seven years.

Their wide array of ribbons include wins for poultry judging and an agricultural decor competition, in which Anna remade a portrait of Van Gogh's Starry Night out of beans.

But in the kitchen, they're doing a practice run for October's wild game dish competition.

Some compete with things like gator, quail, deer, duck, and squirrel.

"We've always hunted for a long time so it seemed like something that'd be in our element," Katy said.

Public health approves fair food vendors


The Georgia National Fair has fun rides and events, but for some, it is all about the fair food.

The tasty corn dogs, gooey cotton candy, and deep-fried funnel cake are all carefully monitored and held to higher food and safety standards than one might realize.

Even though the booths are mobile, the Georgia Department of Public Health treats them like permanent restaurants.

"Everything has to be perfect before you can get that permit," says Environment Health Specialist, Sharon Pettit.

In fact, they are inspected more often.

Public Health says most restaurants get inspected between two and four times a year, while the vendors at the fair get checked every single day.

"We have to make sure hot food stays hot and cold food stays cold," says Pettit.

The health inspectors look for a proper sewage system, hot water, and clean counters.