Raleigh, N.C. — At the agricultural showcase that is the North Carolina State Fair, there are many opportunities to see the work of those who raise plants and animals in the state. But this year, even more than before, the message is: Hands off!
After more than two dozen cases of E. coli bacterial infection connected to last year's fair, organizers made some changes that they hope will keep fair-goers safe and send them home with only happy memories.
Hunter Tallent, a Charlotte toddler who was hospitalized after visiting the livestock building last year is doing just fine, his grandfather, John Tallent told WRAL News.
"He's an active 3-year-old. Almost a year later, if you didn't know he had E. coli and was in the ICU, you'd never know that he was sick," John Tallent said.
There was never a doubt for Jennifer Clark that she'd bring her family to opening day Thursday.
"We trust what they're doing here at the fair is going to take care of us, and they're not going to put us in danger, so we came out," she said.
The Clark family didn't think twice about visiting the petting zoo or even the livestock building.
Hand-washing stations throughout the fairgrounds are more apparent – better lit and with bigger signs – to encourage even more fair visitors to use the sanitizer, soap and water provided. Some animal exhibits and food vendors have been relocated to put more space between them, and visitors will find new routes through animal buildings that limit the contact that people can have.