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Fair Officials Hope for ‘Seriously Twisted Fun’ + Great Weather

Posted October 12, 2007
Updated October 12, 2011

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— The smell of popcorn and turkey legs is in the air. The State Fair kicked off Friday, and organizers hoped for 1 million fairgoers to set a new attendance record.

"I want this to be the record attendance year for the fair. I think we've got all the combinations to do it," state Agriculture Commissioner Steve Troxler said.

The fair boasts the largest midway assembled in North America with 112 rides, Troxler said. State inspectors had cleared 104 rides to open by Friday afternoon.

North Carolina has some the nation's strictest ride inspections standards. Equipment must meet 100 percent of specifications before it can operate.

Fairgoers, including Senator Elizabeth Dole, said the fair has fulfilled its theme, promising "Seriously Twisted Fun."

"Through the years, I've enjoyed the rides," Dole said, adding she can be found in the "front seat on the roller coaster."

 At least one concert – by North Carolina's Chris Daughtry – was already sold out Friday, but the Dorton Arena still has plenty to entertain music fans. Country music stars Sara Evans and Trace Adkins are slated to appear, as well as  American Idol stars Ruben Studdard and Kellie Pickler.

An appearance by the Food Network's Paula Deen on Wednesday is also sold out.

Speaking of food, vendors also lined the midway, hawking cotton candy, turkey legs and fried anything that can thrown in hot oil – Oreos, Snickers bars, Reese's peanut butter cups. Fried peanut butter-and-jelly sandwiches stood out among this year's culinary novelties.

"I guess you can deep fry anything and make it taste good," fairgoer Howard Everette said. "But this tastes good, really good," he added, as he bit into a fried PB&J sandwich.

Good weather, with sunny skies and highs in the mid 70s predicted through the weekend, might also help boast attendance. Temperatures should be in the mid to upper 50s when the nightly fireworks go off, WRAL Chief Meteorologist Greg Fishel said.

"Everything looks like clear sailing from a fair standpoint on through Tuesday of next week, so that bodes very well for high attendance numbers," Fishel said. "It is gorgeous out here, just a nice little breeze. And everybody seems to be happy.

"The drought is not the concern here at the moment. It's the fact that it's comfortable and you're at the fair and you're having a good time. And that's all that matters at the moment."

If fairgoers look closely, however, they will see the effects of the drought – and a late frost and record temperatures – on the fair's exhibits. Growers said the weather has affected both the quantity and quality of their produce. Fair officials expected fewer entries in some categories.

"It has been tough. This is not a year I would have designed for agriculture," Troxler said. But he predicted the produce entered by farmers will still impress fairgoers.

"We (farmers) are a resilient bunch. In the spring, you've got to bet basically everything you've got that we're going to have good weather, the insects aren't really going to eat it up, disease won't get it. So you've got to be resilient to do it."

One agricultural exhibit already set a new record: A pumpkin grown by Sam Lovelace, of Sparta, smashed the previous record for largest pumpkin when it weighed in at 1,178.9 pounds.

Grower Mark Britt got creative; instead of his biggest tomato, he brought his best-quality, smallest tomato.

Growers said they hope the fair will help educate the public about the challenges farmers face. And Troxler hoped Dole's visit to the showcase of the state's best would help her sell North Carolina agriculture on Capitol Hill.

"Anytime that we have senators and congressmen come to the state fair, I think that just adds to the prestige of this great event we have that's been here for 140 years," Troxler said.

Changes to parking had traffic flowing easily around the fair grounds Friday evening. Wade Avenue, Edwards Mill Road and Youth Center Road are now designated as tow-away zones.

Free parking is available at the RBC Center and Carter Finley Stadium. Limited parking is also available in the Blue Ridge Road lot.

106 Comments

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  • kbr Oct 13, 2007

    We just got back from taking our two year old to the fair. We don't do the rides at the fair - just the exhibits and she LOVES it. She was so amazed at all the cows, sheep, geese, chickens, rabbits, etc - and everything was new and exciting. She even loved the Village of Yesteryear - watching people make things. She thought that was very cool.

    I will not pretend that the fair isn't an absolute parade of humanity, but what do you expect when you put thousands of people in one place?

    We never waited in any traffic (got there at about 10:45am, left around 2:15) and parked for free at Carter Finley. There's a free shuttle that goes through the CF lot and drops you off across the street from Gate 8. Of course we did not make the foolish mistake that so many do of trying to drive down Hillsborough Street, Blue Ridge, or Trinity Road. . .

    For entry, lunch, and a snack we spent $30 - two adults and a 2 year old.

  • All child molesters should die Oct 13, 2007

    I don't know if we'll be going to the fair, but thank God it's here! Now, we'll get some much needed RAIN!

  • gpd Oct 13, 2007

    I hope that everyone who attends has fun. But me and my family will NOT be going. This State has gotten the bulk of the money and attention that I'm willing to give it. Bitter? YES! And hopefully this time next year I'll be a resident of the great Commonwealth of Virginia by CHOICE!

  • dogeatdog Oct 13, 2007

    some of us can't go during the day because we work and go to school..even work on weekends. the only time i could go would be a night on a weekend a i value my safety too much.

  • Starlyte Oct 13, 2007

    we were* stuck inside...

    not we stuck inside...oops!

  • Starlyte Oct 13, 2007

    You got that right soldier...

    And the weekends, the nights at least are horrible. I can recall being there once several years ago and someone being shot, all the gates were closed and we stuck inside on lockdown, at least the ones close to the shooting were. I have not been back on a weekend night since.

    And I am by no means racist but yesterday it was like little mexico, I have never seen so many mexicans in one spot in my life.

    I can only imagine how all the so called gang memebers will be there this year when they get out there. Im sorry but since the hispanic population has increased so has the gang activity. BUT THATS ANOTHER STORY! I KNOW!

    Check the fair out this year, it was defintely nice out there yesterday, the daytime during the week is best for those not looking a crowd.

  • MISS OH BABY Oct 13, 2007

    well i must say that this year was my first to attend the NC STATE FAIR I have been to Virginia's peanut feast but this was amazing. The kids and I really enjoyed ourselves. Didnt eat them fried oreos and stuff but enjoyed site seeing. I got that wristband so i paid one set price thank you..lol.. i hope everyone else has enjoyed themselves or will enjoy themselves with NOOO DRAMA.

  • Humungous Oct 13, 2007

    The real entertainment isn't the fair at all, it's the freaks attending the fair. Who says KY, TN and WV have a lock on inbreeding. The gene pool is just as, if not more, contaminated in NC. Keep up the good work cousin uncle papaw!

  • paddie Oct 13, 2007

    dogeatdog, don't go on a Saturday night! Go on a weekday during the day even if you have to take off work. It's a LOT nicer!

  • Juice E Fruit Oct 13, 2007

    I went to the Fair yesterday with my 2 kids and had a ball.
    The lines were short(er) and the food was great!!!
    Traffic was great. I had to leave at 3:00 to get the niece from school...got right out and right back in. That was for the free parking right outside Carter Finley...great organization this year!!

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