And we're off
Posted October 18, 2013
Raleigh, N.C. — The full moon is not actually until Friday night, but it was waxing enough Thursday that I had been looking forward to seeing a moonlit midway and the rest of the NC State Fair under moonlight.
That didn't happen because of the weather, but the cloud formations themselves (constantly threatening, but never producing rain until right as we were leaving) had their own flair as they made a background for all the lights and rides.
And that was pretty much my impression of the preview day – not entirely what I was expecting, but interesting in its own way. Fun guide: Tips to enjoy the 2013 NC State Fair
I went to the first preview day a few years ago, and between the traffic and other issues, it was a mess. This year it was much better, but things still felt a bit unfinished.
A vendor in one of the exhibit halls told me that the halls had been opened at 3 p.m. instead of 4 p.m., which explained some of the vendors still setting up shortly before 4 p.m. and one or two empty spots. I checked back towards evening and everything was going.
Speaking of the exhibit halls, if that's your main interest, preview day is a great day to go, just don't get there just as the halls are opening. The exhibits aren't crowded and everybody's energized.
There have been lots of small changes (and not so small changes – I'll talk about those in other blog posts) all over the place. There seems to have been an effort to make more room. If you come in through Gate 9 (the first gate with an entrance on Trinity Road as you turn off Blue Ridge) you have a long walk to the main concourse of the fair.
In years past, one part of that path has been clogged (toward the top of the hill, just as you're going around the curve to walk parallel to the Kerr Scott building) by games and other distractions that caused people spilling into the walkway. Now that area is one large food vendor, which I suspect will make the walk much bottle-necked on the weekends. State Fair opening ceremony
It also felt like there was more space on the midway, with larger areas being made available (but what happened to the Wizard of Oz coin push game? I'll have to check on the old midway).
There has been an ongoing push to provide more seating everywhere. The grassy area between the Expo Center and the Jim Graham Building now has a lot of benches and picnic tables.
The plain white signs pointing to various attractions have been replaced with large, colorful signs that unfortunately are not as easy to read since the lettering is black on a-variety-of-colors. It could be my eyes.
It's interesting that the fair with the theme "North Carolina Homecoming" feels like it has had so many changes, from subtle to not-so-subtle, good to not-so-good (like not having a petting zoo!) How these come together, of course, remains to be seen over the next 10 days.