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Seafood Fest opens early for special event

POSTED: October 20, 2012 6:30 a.m.
Crissie Elrick/

Kids smile for pictures as they enjoy a slime machine carnival ride Friday at the 14th annual Great Ogeechee Seafood Festival during an exclusive opening for children with special needs.

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Dozens of kids scampered through J.F. Gregory Park on Friday morning as they got the chance to try out some of the 14th annual Great Ogeechee Seafood Festival carnival rides early during a special opening.
Each year, the festival opens its doors early to children with special needs and their families so they can enjoy the rides with fewer crowds, slower speeds and lower music volumes.
The children are also provided with a free lunch, this year provided by the Richmond Hill Police Department, after an hour or so of riding their favorite rides, according to Richmond Hill-Bryan County Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Brianne Yontz. The Richmond Hill Police Spouses Association was also on hand to give balloons to each child.
“It’s going great so far,” Yontz said about an hour into the event. “It’s always fun to see their faces because they’re so cute and excited — it’s the simple things in life. We should all be thankful for our blessings.”
Parents, like Tabatha Lovitt, were armed with digital cameras to record their little ones having fun.
“They were definitely excited to come, they love to ride the rides at the carnival,” she said. “It’s wonderful — especially when they slow the rides down. It’s hard when I take them to other carnivals, so it’s great when they provide events like this for the kids.”
Kathy Grady was watching her 2½-year-old Annabelle Grady on the festival’s Barbie jeep ride. She said this was the first time she’d attended the event.
“Last year we came during the regular (festival) time and she was too young and it was too loud and too scary for her,” Grady said. “But it’s really nice this year to have her included.”
Festival gates opened to the public at 5 p.m. Friday, and the carnival rides and fun continue through Sunday afternoon. For more information, please visit

* Admission for adults today is $5 until 4 p.m. and $15 after 4 p.m. Sunday’s admission price is $5. Children ages 4-12 get in for $3 and children 3 and under get in for free.
* No checks, credit or debit cards are accepted, although there will be ATMs on site.
* A valid ID will be required for all who wish to purchase an alcoholic beverage.
* There is no on-site parking, but free parking is available at various locations. Shuttles are also available to the festival.
* No pets, coolers, guns, weapons, video or audio recording is allowed in into the festival.

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