THOMASVILLE -- The Deep South Fair returns Tuesday through Oct. 9 for five days of demolition, music, food, games and fun.

"We made a lot of changes last year and several changes this year as well," said Deep South Fair president Jimmy Dukes. "It's not the fair that people remember from four or five years ago. Even if you don't ride anything, you'll have a good time. It will be worth the price of admission."

Favorites such as the petting zoo and Demolition Derby return with other events including an old engine show and the schools' arts and crafts work.

Among the improvements are new foods and bands.

Traditional hamburgers, hot dogs, cotton candy, candy apples, elephant ears and sausage dogs will be available as well as new additions including chicken sandwiches, barbecue plates on Wednesday night and chicken pileau on Friday night.

Members of the Thomasville Exchange Club will prepare the plates.

The Chuck Lester Band and Christian music night with two local teenage bands return for another year.

Wednesday night is Christian music night and bands are "The Fifth Sunday" from First United Methodist Church and "One Way" from Gatlin Creek Baptist Church.

"It's geared towards teenagers," said Dukes of Wednesday's event. "It's kind of a Christian rock-type music. They are all very good and take it very seriously."

He hoped this year's concert would be as successful as last year's event.

"It was one of the biggest Wednesday nights we had," said Dukes.

The Chuck Lester Band takes the stage on Friday night with its country-contemporary music.

"They were a favorite and had a good crowd," said Dukes. "I think a lot of folks will return to hear them again."

Bluegrass music is planned for Saturday night with gospel-esque David Hawkins Just Passing Through.

The band has played at several venues in the area including the Thomasville Cultural Center.

"They are very, very good, as well," said Dukes.

All concerts start at 7 p.m. inside the commercial exhibit building that has been split in half: one for exhibits and the other with the stage for performances.

"Rain or shine, we'll have entertainment," said Dukes.

Perhaps the biggest event is the Demolition Derby Tuesday and Thursday nights.

"It's unreal," said Dukes of the event. "It is really a neat thing. It's real fun to watch."

Forty-seven cars participated in 2003's Derby and Dukes hopes as many will participate in 2004s.

"It's all local drivers, cars and advertisers," said Dukes. "There's a lot of camaraderie. They really enjoy it."

The event normally lasts 2 1/2 to 3 hours and is good, clean fun.

The basic plan is there are several heats with six cars per heat.

The last car running at end of each heat advances to the next heat and the final heat is comprised of the winners from the previous heats.

The last car left running at the end is the winner.

"Just about every one of them were demolished by the end of last year's," said Dukes. "Out of 47 there was probably 3 or 4 that could run again."

There is a winner for both nights and any car still running from Tuesday may participate in Thursday's Derby.

Saturday is kids day.

Cartoon characters including Arthur, Clifford, the Pink Power Puff Girl and Winnie the Pooh will be in attendance and Mitzi the clown will be constructing balloon animals and painting faces.

A 4-H horse show is also planned for Saturday at 6 p.m.

Dukes stressed that there is something for everyone at this year's fair.

"We're working real hard trying to get it to be something that Thomasville can be proud of and look forward to having again next year," said Dukes.

Midwest Midways of Chicago, Ill., is in charge of the midway for the second year.

Dukes said the company has been updating and introducing new rides.

"We're very proud of them to come and play our fair," he said. "Everything is clean and everyone is friendly."

The fair is presented by the Thomasville Exchange Club and the money raised goes back to the community, specifically to its programs involving youths.

Admission on Tuesday and Thursday is $6 adults and $3 for kids (12 and under) and other nights are $4 for adults and $2 for kids. Children 5 and under get in free.

The Deep South Fair opens every night at 6 p.m. except Saturday when it opens at 4 p.m. and closes between 10:30-11 p.m.

For more information, call the fair grounds at (229) 226-6121.

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