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'This is our pride and joy:' Four Georgia National Fair employees celebrate 30 years together

George Neal, Cindy Bellew, Richard Scuderi and Pat Alligood have been key players in the Georgia National Fair since it started 30 years ago.

PERRY, Ga. — For four people, the Georgia National Fair has been their home for the last 30 years. They say they still get that same rush when the gates open as they did back in 1990.

"I never expected to be here 30 years when I first started," George Neal said.

He was hired three decades ago as an electrician, and now he works as the physical plant director.

"When we first started, we just hooked stuff up," he said with a laugh.

He says the fair is a lot bigger now and the electrical grid is more complicated.

"The fair, the fairgrounds and everything has just become part of my family and part of my life," he said.

Neal says the fair not only gave him a job, but also his wife. 

They met when she worked in the livestock department. Now, they have four children who love the fair just as much as their parents.

Cindy Bellew said she remembers those first few days back in 1990.

"We had never run a fair before so we were kind of thrown into it," she said.

Bellew is in charge of just about everyone's favorite part of the fair -- the food.

"To me it's like a family reunion having all these vendors and concessionaires come back," Bellew said.

She said she still feels the same sense of pride when the gates open as she did that first year.

"This is our pride and joy. This is like our baby so we want to show it off," she said.

Pat Alligood started in accounting and retired a few years ago, but she just couldn't stay away. She still comes back every year to help out.

"It's so family-oriented. There's something for everybody," Alligood said.

Richard Scuderi started as a landscape engineer during that first year. Now, he's the Chief Operating Officer. 

After all these years, he said it still amazes him to watch the fairgrounds fill up with rides in just a matter of days.

"We have 500,000 people come through the gates and 99% have a great time and that's pretty special," he said.

One thing they can all agree on? Working at the fair is so much more than a job. It's home.


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