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State Fair Opens Today in Raleigh

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RALEIGH — Members of North Carolina's 4-H Clubs arepreparinging their heifers, the powdered sugar is in place atop the funnelcakes, and it's just about time to open the gates for this year's StateFair. But before you board those rides and take off fair officials want tobe sure the fun is safe.

There was a virtual army of people at the fairgrounds Friday. Theymoved with a sense of urgency for two reasons. For one thing, fairpreparation is a little behind schedule because of recent weather. Inaddition, most people found that the faster they moved, the warmer theycould be.

Inspector Jonathon Brooks of the NC Department of Labor said all theworking parts on every ride must be very closely inspected before the twirling and tossing of passengers can begin.

Brooks says the rides at the fair are in good shape. They wereinspected only last week in Winston-Salem. He says they usually only findlittle things that need adjustment.

States began inspecting rides about 15 years ago. Now, according toJimmy Strates of Strates Shows, the company that provides the fair rides, most everyone does it. He says it makes everyone's job easier

The forecast doesn't look very promising this weekend, but thatwon't prevent hundreds of people from heading to the fairgrounds startingFriday for the State Fair.

Organizers say everything should be ready for Friday's opening, butBrooks says there is a slim chance the many delays could prevent somerides from opening on schedule.

And fair officials warn that, as usual, you can expect to compete forparking spots. CAT shuttles are the recommended mode of transportation tothe fair.

Photographer:Ed Wilson