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Ride Company Involved In Ag Scandal To Play Role In State Fair

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RALEIGH, N.C. — Thousands of people will soon converge on Raleigh for the North Carolina State Fair. Unlike past years, the fair is not dogged by public corruption charges, but last year's controversial company will play a role at this year's fair.

Amusements of America's 2002 State Fair midway performance won raves from the public, but the behind-the-scenes deals linked to the contract erupted in scandal. The state cancelled the company's 2003 contract and indictments sent former Agriculture Commissioner Meg Scott Phipps and some of her ex-assistants to prison.

Amusements of America President Morris Vivona Jr. has pleaded guilty to lying to investigators about illegal cash payments. He faces sentencing next month.

Because of the corruption, the state created a whole new bidding process and Reithoffer Shows will oversee the midway at this year's fair.

"We're looking at over 100 rides this year, which will be more than the State Fair has ever had," said Bryan Long, of the North Carolina Department of Agriculture.

To reach those record goals, the State Fair is expanding the midway and midway operator Reithoffer Shows is bringing in other ride companies. One of those companies happens to be Amusements of America.

"It might appear to be ironic, but the reality is subcontracting occurs in the carnival industry all the time," Long said.

Months ago, the state settled an Amusements lawsuit and agreed to allow the company to subcontract and even bid on future fairs.

"It's just part of the process of putting that behind us," Long said.

The State Fair starts Oct. 15 and runs through Oct. 24.

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