NC State Fair is canceled this year
Posted July 28, 2020 7:12 p.m. EDT
Updated July 29, 2020 1:43 p.m. EDT
Raleigh, N.C. — The North Carolina State Fair has been canceled this year due to coronavirus concerns.
State Agriculture Commissioner Steve Troxler said the department surveyed fair-goers from previous years to find out if they would attend this year's event. A third of those surveyed said they would attend.
“The State Fair is a tradition we all look forward to each year. It’s a vital economic engine for local non-profits, community groups, small businesses and individuals. It’s a time for family and friends to come together to celebrate everything that makes North Carolina such a great place to live. We waited as long as we could, hoping the numbers would take a turn and we’d be able to continue with our planning, but each day brought more challenges than solutions," Troxler said during a press conference Wednesday.
The fair was scheduled to take place Oct. 15-25 in Raleigh. Despite the fair's cancelation, there will still be junior livestock shows and horse shows in October. Troxler said to expect more drive-thru State Fair Food events at the fairgrounds, which have proven to be popular events.
North Carolina has reported 116,300 cases of the coronavirus and 1,847 deaths related to the virus. The state remains in Phase 2 of its reopening plan.
“We looked at so many different factors,” Fair Manager Kent Yelverton said. “From social distancing, face masks, temperature checks and capacity limits to the true minutia most wouldn’t think about until you are in the moment like social distancing on our shuttle buses, cleaning carnival equipment between riders, overlapping food lines and stringent cleaning schedules. To offer anything less than what fairgoers have come to know and love would be a disservice to our community and to us. There is no halfway when producing a fair. The people, the lights, the rides, the smells, the music…all of that contributes to an atmosphere that can only be felt during a fair.”
Officials said the decision to cancel the fair now would help ease expenses. The fair costs about $6.8 million annually to produce with many contracts that have a 60-day cancelation with no penalty policy. The 60-day window for the N.C. State Fair would have been Aug. 16.
The State Fair attracted more than 938,000 people over its 11-day run last year. This would have been the 153rd State Fair. The cancelation is the first since World War II.
The State Fair started in 1853 but took a break 1861 through 1868 during the Civil War and Reconstruction eras. It resumed in 1870 before taking time off in 1926 and 1927 for the state Agricultural Society to disband and the state Agriculture Department to take over operations of the event.
The fair took only one more break in 1942 through 1945 during World War II.
In 2018, the fair postponed its opening day due to Hurricane Michael. Despite being open for only 10 days that year, the fair had more than 977,000 visitors.
Recently the North Carolina Mountain State Fair was canceled due to coronavirus concerns. That event was set to take place Sept. 11-20 in Fletcher. Held annually since 1994, last year's event saw more than 171,000 people attend.
On Tuesday, Winston-Salem canceled the Carolina Classic Fair, formerly known as the Dixie Classic Fair. It was planned for Oct. 2-11.