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Crowds Head To Fair As Phipps Heads To Court

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RALEIGH, N.C. — The midway is the center piece of any fair. But here in North Carolina, the scandal surrounding former Agriculture Commissioner Meg Scott Phipps -- who is accused of illegal dealings in connection with the fair -- also plunged the midway into the center of controversy.

Strates Shows had just three months to put this year's fair together. But fairgoers seem to be pleased with what they've seen in the first three days of the event, and attendance is up over last year.

Strates Shows is no stranger to the North Carolina State Fair. The company ran the midway for more than 50 years before Phipps awarded the contract to Amusements of America last year. After that contract was thrown out amid the controversy surrounding Phipps, Strates Shows outbid four other operators to run the midway for this year's fair.

The woman at the root of the fair scandal heads to court Monday. That is when jury selection starts in the case against Phipps, who is accused of lying about illegal contributions and loans.

Phipps faces charges of perjury and obstruction of justice. Her federal trial is tentatively set to begin next month.

Meanwhile, Sunday's fair attendance of 97,655 brought the three-day total to 274,035 -- nearly 53,000 more than the first three days of last year's fair.

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