Local News

Decades of Dedication Add to Fair's Success

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RALEIGH — It takes a lot of people, many of them working behind the scenes, to organize and stage an event as large as the North Carolina State Fair. And some of those people are especially dedicated.

Such as Lou Santillo. He's been cooking Italian sausage at the State Fair for 47 years. That's thousands of pounds of sausage -- and thousands of people he has made happy over the decades.

Santillo recalls working the stand with his parents, at a time when the South was not familiar with Italian sausage.

To remedy that, Santillo says his parents stood outside the food stand, giving samples away to fairgoers.

The marketing tactic worked. But now, after so many years at the fair, Santillo says it is time to turn the tongs over to his son. He says this will be his last year in an apron at the fair, but that he has the memories to last a lifetime.

Another familiar face around the fair belongs to Fred Hockaday. He is head cashier.

When he began, it cost a mere 35 cents to get in to the fair.

Hockaday's day at the fair begins at 6 a.m. and lasts past midnight. He says he looks forward to it every year.

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Ericka Lewis, Reporter
Ron Pittman, Photographer
Kay Miller, Web Editor

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