WRAL.com at the State Fair

State Fair comes at stressful time for farm families dealing with floods

Posted October 13

— As eastern North Carolina continues to deal with the damage left behind by Hurricane Matthew, officials with the state Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services are hoping the 2016 N.C. State Fair can be an event that brings people together.

State Commissioner of Agriculture Steve Troxler said, "Agriculture's a family in North Carolina, and this state fair is stress relief in getting away from what I know is devastation."

Troxler has said that every North Carolina farm east of Greensboro saw some damage from Hurricane Matthew, and the struggle to save crops in the fields and challenge of navigating closed roads could suppress fair attendance.

"We could have families that planned to show in the livestock events and enter their crops in competition that cannot get here," he said. "That's the heartbreaking thing. For farmers that worked hard all year, this is the joyous time of year. This is harvest."

Brian Long, a spokesman for the Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services, said the fair's annual hunger relief day, which is scheduled for Oct. 20, will take on extra significance this year. Fairgoers can bring five cans of Food Lion brand food to the fair on that day for one free admission ticket.

"Hunger relief day benefits the Food Bank of Central and Eastern NC, and it takes on even more significance this year in the wake of Matthew," Long said.

Many residents of eastern North Carolina need the basics – food, shelter, clothing – while they wait to learn if they will be able to return to flooded communities.

Poultry returns, Flyer debuts in 2016

Several new attractions will make their debut in 2016, including the State Fair Flyer, a permanent ride that carries people from one end of the midway to the other. The ride takes about seven minutes.

There are new exhibits, as well. A new laser show is also planned nightly.

Chickens, ducks, geese and baby chicks will return this year, after a one-year hiatus. State agriculture officials banned public bird shows and sales last year to try to prevent the spread of avian flu.

The State Fair also offers music ranging from gospel choirs to jazz and bluegrass to hardcore punk and heavy metal.

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