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State Fair Attendance Has its Ups and Downs Due to Weather

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STATE FAIRGROUNDS — Hurricanes Floyd and Irene double-teamed North Carolina, delivering a one, two punch. Now, the blows are taking their toll on the1999 North Carolina State Fair.

There is no doubt that attendance at the fair is down. Compared to the first three days last year, it is down by 89,000 people.

Sunday's rain had a big impact, but Monday the sun shined and fairgoers were out in force. Despite flooding down east, many people say they are determined not to miss the fair.

Sharon McCoy's cattle had to be rescued from rising water after Hurricane Floyd; her crops did not fare as well.

"They're pretty much gone. I would say most of our corn was 50 to 70 percent gone," she says.

"There's no question that it's had a direct effect on it, because that's our biggest customers, down east, and our heart goes out for it. We're collecting money trying to raise money for them," says Jim Graham, N.C. Agriculture Commissioner.

Fairgoers can donate money to the Farmer Disaster Fund or the North Carolina Hurricane Relief Fund.

Most people, however, are more concerned with having fun.

The Rabil family's yard flooded during Hurricane Irene, but they still made it to the fair.

"We decided that the rain had stopped pretty good last night and we saw the water was going to go down in the yard. So we decided we'd continue with the plan today," says Sheila Rabil.

Organizers say even though attendance is down overall, and Irene left some mud in her wake, they have not missed their opportunity to draw big crowds.

"I can't tell there's a whole lot less people. You look around and see how crowded it is when you walk by," says fairgoer Gerianne Jones.

Several local counties like Wake and Johnston had teacher workdays Monday, so a lot of students took advantage of their day off to come to the fair.

The State Fair runs through Oct. 24.

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Amanda Lamb, Reporter
Rick Armstrong, Photographer
Michelle Singer, Web Editor

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