RALEIGH, N.C. — Rides are going up and food stands are in place for the North Carolina State Fair. However, before everyone arrives, the state Department of Agriculture wanted to make it very clear -- all dealings with agriculture employees at the fair must be done on a professional level.
In 2002, Amusements of America won the midway contract after giving illegal cash payments to the campaign for former state Agriculture Commissioner
Meg Scott Phipps
. Before this year's fair, a letter was sent to all concessionaires and exhibitors, emphasizing gratuities, free merchandise and other considerations to Department of Agriculture workers are improper and not permitted.
"It's something we want them to understand. They have no obligation to our employees. We are here to do a job," State Fair manager Wesley Wyatt said.
State employees could face disciplinary action if they solicit or accept gifts. Jack Stoorza, of Reithoffer Shows, who is running this year's midway, thinks it prevents anyone from clowning around.
"It lets everyone know what the ground rules are off the bat and hopefully will prevent any improprieties that might come up," he said. "It leaves no doubt what will happen if somebody has an infraction of the rule."
Vendor Scott Pro understands the new rules, but he thinks the policy goes a little too far. He hs had a booth at the fair for nearly a decade. In the past, he has offered free drinks and discounted snacks to workers who put in long hours.
"It's a friendly gesture. I don't think anything is wrong with it, but if that's the rules, you have got to follow the rules," he said.
It is the second year the policy has been expressed publicly and openly. Wyatt said he hopes it creates a positive image for the state fair.