Local News

2002 North Carolina State Fair Declared A Success

Posted October 8, 2003 10:17 a.m. EDT

— The rides will be dismantled and the midway cleaned up Monday as the North Carolina State Fair ends its run.

The 10-day event attracted 696,977 people, up by 1,800 from last year. More than 80,000 people attended the fair on the final day.

Fair officials said the attendance would have been even greater, but rainfall last Monday and Friday cost the event more than 55,000 visitors.

For the first time in 50 years, the state fair had a new company running the midway. Amusements of America brought a number of new rides for the enjoyment of fairgoers.

It seems fairgoers -- and State Agriculture Commmisioner Meg Scott Phipps -- were pleased with the company.

"I can't imagine not having this company back. The response has been positive," Phipps said.

Phipps said e-mail recieved from fairgoers was positive. She is expected to decide by the end of November whether Amusements will run the fair next year, after a three-member committee evaluates the company's performance.

A few incidents marred the event, which ended Sunday.

Thursday morning turned tragic at the fair when a carnival worker was killed

after he was struck by the swinging arm of a midway ride. A section of the midway was closed during an investigation into the accident.

State Fair officials stressed that the accident was not due to a malfunction. The ride was operating correctly at the time of the accident and the ride operator followed proper emergency shutdown procedures.

The wet weather also put a damper on attendance. Last year, the worst for attendance since 1997, 695,177 people went to the fair. This year's attendance of 696,977 barely passed it.

Attendance peaked Saturday with 118,905 visitors. The slowest day was Monday, with only 34,563 fairgoers brave enough to go out in the cold rain, down 33 percent from last year.

Thursday, fairgoers brought more than 103,000 pounds of canned goods to the 10th annual

Winn-Dixie at the Fair

in exchange for free admission to the fair.

Fifty-one tons of food will be sent on to the Food Bank of North Carolina and the 34 central and eastern counties it serves. The event is the largest one-day canned food drive in the state. More than 1.6 million pounds of food have been collected over the last nine years.

This year's theme, "Blue Ribbon Fun," celebrated North Carolina's number one industry, agriculture.

Security was a priority at the fairgrounds. Close to 100 security officers, including police officers patrolled the fairgrounds each day. Officers conducted random checks of diaper bags, back packs and other bags. Fair officials said security measures were in place behind the scenes, as well.