Arkansas-Oklahoma State Fair Begins

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Excitement is building in the River Valley for the Arkansas-Oklahoma State Fair. The nine-day multimillion dollar event kicked off Friday (Sept. 20) at 4 p.m.

Fair Chairman Mike Looper said 140,000 people will be making their way to Kay Rodgers Park, giving Fort Smith a major economic boost.

"The economic effect of this fair in the Fort Smith community is $4.3 million," said Looper.

With 42 amusement rides, ride directors say safety and preparation is key.

"We started setting up on Tuesday,” said ride director, John Hanschen. “When we get done we do our own inspection."

Fair directors said the latest attraction this year is the ride Speed. It has a 125 foot wing span and travels up to 65 mph.

"The Speed is a fantastic ride," said Hanschen. “It's in that genre of an extreme ride, and it goes faster than most."

New rides aren’t the only reason to head to the fair. Denny Flynn, Executive Director of Kay Rogers Park, said vendors will be serving up fair food favorites.

"My favorite's the old fashioned burgers," said Flynn. "I've never seen that much fried food in my life. Candy bars, whatever you want fried, you can get it."

Tickets for adults are $7; children ages 3 to 11 are $4 and kids 2 and under are free. While ride tickets will cost extra, fair chairman Mike Looper said there's still plenty of entertainment included in the price of admission.

"Once you pay the $7 for gate admission for adults, everything in the park is free in terms of entertainment," said Looper.

Discounted tickets and unlimited ride armbands are $20 if purchased before the fair kicks off Friday.

Flynn said parking for the fair is available on 50th St., Plum St. and Midland Blvd.

The fair wraps up on Saturday (Sept. 28).

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