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Beautiful Weather Greets Visitors as State Fair Begins

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RALEIGH — Friday morning's blue skies and comfortable temperatures greeted the first visitors to the 133rd annual North Carolina State Fair in Raleigh. Officials Say First Day of Fair Starts Off on Right FootWall-to-wall sunshine bathed the State Fairgrounds on the opening day of the state's largest event. The clear skies left bright smiles on fair officials' faces.

"It's perfect, ideal fair weather," says Mike Pleasant, assistant fair manager. "People can wear short sleeves in the day and in a light sweater at night. It's just ideal. It's a beautiful day."

Rain and Floyd's flooding hurtState Fair attendancein 1999.

Boosted by beautiful weather and a Wake County teacher workday, fair officials expect at least 50,000 visitors on the fair's opening day. They believe about 700,000 people will visit the fair before the event ends October 22.

Officials have a good reason to be optimistic. Advance tickets sold at a record pace this year, with fairgoers buying more than $1 million of tickets in the weeks before the fair started. Plan Ahead, Save MoneyGoing to the fair does not have to break the bank. Fairgoers had a few good ideas on how to save money at the fair:
  • Leave your ATM at home.Set aside a certain amount before you go and stick to that.
  • Eat before you go.It might make that fair food a little less tempting.
  • See the exhibits.Visit the exhibit halls and tents around Dorton Arena. Not only are the exhibits free -- you can fill up those plastic bags with all kinds of free giveaways. Come by and see us at the (free) WRAL tent on the northeast side of Dorton Arena, and sign up to win an HDTV!Easy as PieIt may seem "easy as pie," but whipping up the best apple pie in North Carolina is not so easy.
  • Dozens of bakers entered their creations in the Pillsbury Pie Crust Championship. Natalie Lyles of Fuquay-Varina took the top spot with her Warm Apple Buttermilk Custard Pie.

    It was Lyles' second win in two years. New Ride Joins Old FavoriteA new ride graces the midway at this year's fair. The Cliffhanger resembles hang-gliding, with riders laying horizontally on their stomachs and spinning around.

    Even with the dazzle of some rides, most people say their favorite is an old standard: the Ferris wheel. When Should You Go?Fair gates and exhibit halls open at 9 a.m. every day, and rides open at 10 a.m. The exhibits close at 9:45 p.m. and the fairgrounds close at midnight.

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    Laurie Clowers, Reporter
    Gil Hollingsworth, Photographer
    Brian Shrader, Web Editor

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