Held up by her grandmother, 2 1/2 -year-old Allexis Platt stretched her small arm out with a carrot in hand. The 14-foot tall giraffe wrapped his long, blue tongue around the carrot and pulled it from her. Allexis squealed with joy.
"He's taller than I am," said Allexis as her grandmother Trisha Wood lowered her to the ground at the Columbia County Exchange Club Fair on Wednesday.
After torrential thunderstorms ripped through the area the night before, Exchange Club members were happy to see the sun come out on what is one of their busiest days. It is the only day they have a matinee, opening at noon, and it was Kids Day, with the club giving out free hotdogs and Cokes to the first 800 through the gate.
"It's been just gorgeous since we got here," said Exchange Club member George Lively, who was taking tickets at the front gate. "The traffic has been real good today. We gave away 800 hotdog tickets in a little more than an hour."
Dena Pelly, 8, and her brother Christopher, 6, had rides on their minds. The two shared a seat on the Jolly Choo Choo ride, and Christopher rang the brass bell as they went round and round.
"They've been looking forward to this all week," said their mother, Janet Pelly of McDuffie County.
"Mommy, we want to go ride the bears," said Dena on one of her trips around the train tracks. As soon as the ride stopped, she and her brother ran in that direction with their mother chasing behind.
Seven-year-old Mary Beth Sutton said her favorite rides are The Scrambler and the Berry Go Round. Her mother, Ginger Sutton, was chaperoning six children scattered throughout the fairgrounds.
"I'm glad it turned out sunny, because this was the last day we could come. This is the third time we've been here this week," said Ms. Sutton. "We've had a ball."
North Augusta High School 10th-grader Robert Doyle was waiting in line for the Scat ride when his mother approached. "Come on and ride it," he said, trying to coax the reluctant woman on the ride, a yellow cage that spins. He grabbed her arm and pulled her toward the ride. She broke free. "No way," said Carrie Shultz, and she kept on walking.
"I'm here to have fun," said Robert, who had already ridden the Sea Ray, Cobra and swings.
Yolanda Safford, a fourth-grader at C.T. Walker Magnet School, said she likes the rides that go really fast and the Bear Affair, a ride she had just exited.
"My favorite part is, you can ride all you want for only $8," said her mother, Frances Williams. "We've been trying to find something to do while she's been out on spring break that would keep us close to town. It was either this or the Columbia Zoo. I'm glad we chose this."
The fair continues through Saturday and is at the Columbia County Fair Grounds off Columbia Road across from Patriots Park.