The forecast is windy with a chance of cash when the “10 best days of fall” kick off Friday in Montgomery.
Get ready for the Blizzard of Dollars money machine, a new addition to the Alabama National Fair that will have guests grabbing at flying green through Oct. 17 on the main stage inside Garrett Coliseum, 155 Federal Drive.
“It blows the money up in the air,” said Randy Stephenson, the fair’s executive director. “You’ve got 35 seconds to grab all the money you can get. There will be at least $1,000 in there every time we do it.”
Eligible fair guests who want to step into the machine should text “MONEY” to 78000 to get instructions.
Money machine times are at 8 p.m. Monday through Friday, and 4 p.m. and 8 p.m. Saturdays and Sundays, and at School Day (Monday, Oct. 11).
A half hour before each money machine time, guests will be asked to come to the stage, and then asked to text a specific word to 78000. From that group, three people will be picked to go into the machine and grab all the cash they can catch in the air.
While the fair has done cash giveaways In previous years, those were drawings. Last year’s fair didn’t have any cash giveaways due to the pandemic.
“We want to have a fair. We did last year, and we learned some things,” Stephenson said. “We’re moving forward with it.”
Veterans and first responders get in free
While the fair usually has a special night to honor veterans, this year the whole run features free admission for them.
“Active or retired military,” Stephenson said.
First responders also get in free, with their ID, for the entire 10 days.
Regular fair admission is $10, and children 10 and under are admitted free with a paid adult.
There are also admission specials, like Friday and Oct. 15, where everyone bringing a donation for the Tri-County Humane Shelter gets in for $5. For School Day on Oct. 11, students through 12th grade get in for $5. Thursday, Oct. 14 is Dollar Day, with $1 admission with nonperishable food item donations.
Local, regional acts on outdoor stage
Like last year, the fair is continuing with local and regional acts throughout its run on the outdoor stage.
The lineup, which includes music and cheer squads, features:
Saturday: YMCA cheer squads at 4 p.m., and Lisa Perkins and the E-Lusion Band at 7 p.m.
Sunday: The Big KD 94.1 presents J’Cenae and RnB Pooh at 7 p.m.
Monday: A choral showcase at 9:30 a.m. featuring eight local school choral groups.
Wednesday: A jazz showcase from Tallassee and Marbury High School bands at 7 p.m.
Thursday Oct. 14: Steel CuZn at 7 p.m.
Friday Oct. 15: John Bull Band at 7 p.m.
Saturday Oct. 16: Jessie Lynn at 7 p.m.
Sunday, Oct. 17: Praise 96.5 WMGY gospel showcase at 7 p.m. featuring KT Ellis, Choraettes, Alto is Lovely, Ellie and the Boys, and Tim Frierson,
On the second Saturday, Oct. 16, the fair will bring back its high school robotics competition, Stephenson said.
“It’s a pretty neat thing to watch,” Stephenson said. “The kids are too smart.”
This takes place at 10 a.m. on the Garrett Coliseum stage.
Also inside Garrett, exhibitors will be on the coliseum floor, plus there will be art and flower shows upstairs.
Stephenson said the fair’s usual large concerts in Garrett won’t take place again this year due to virus concerns with having thousands of people seated together inside the coliseum.
“We’re rocking and rolling,” Stephenson said. “We’re doing everything but our indoor shows, obviously.”
Fun on the midway
Wade Shows returns with all its midway rides, booths and goodies to enjoy.
“They’re a great partner of ours,” Stephenson said. “They do a wonderful job. They’re a very safety conscious group of people.”
Among the attractions are several favorites, including the Swifty Swine pig races, Puppetone Rockers, Sea Lion Splash, Scott’s Magic Show, K9’s In Flight, and the Zerbini Family Circus.
For the rides, there are wristbands available. They’re $30 on several days. For School Day on Monday, wristbands are $15. Wristbands are $25 on Oct. 12, 13 and 14. Ride tickets are also available.
Check the daily events schedule at alnationalfair.org for daily Midway start times.
As always, the fair is home to huge livestock exhibitions and competitions with cattle, sheep, goats and swine.
There are also mounted shooting, art guild competitions, a choral festival, flowers, and a school art show.
A full list of the competitions, and how to enter, is online at alnationalfair.org/competitions.
More pandemic adjustments
Unlike last year, masks are no longer a requirement for fair guests to enter.
“Masks will be optional,” Stephenson said. “You can wear them if you like, if you’re comfortable with it.”
Sanitation efforts will continue throughout the fairgrounds.
“We’ve always been very conscious of sanitation because of the livestock end of it,” Stephenson said. “We’ve always had hand sanitizers at all of the food stations and up and down the midway, and in the barns and stuff like that.”
Stephenson said they’ll continue sanitize high touch areas around the fair, like the rides and door handles.
“That’s very little effort and goes a long way,” he said.
Flag disposal service
Is your U.S. flag looking worn out, but you’re not sure what to do with it?
“We’re going to help them,” Stephenson said. “We’re going to collect your discarded American flags this year at the fair.”
On the last Sunday night at the fair, Stephenson said they’ll hold a proper flag disposal ceremony.
Contact Montgomery Advertiser reporter Shannon Heupel at firstname.lastname@example.org.