State Fair was Sam Rand's "Baby"
Posted October 17, 1997 12:00 a.m. EDT
RALEIGH — The 1997 State Fair is dedicated to a man who made sure it happened, but isn't here to see it. Sam Rand died of natural causes almost two weeks ago. He managed the Fairgrounds for the past 14 years. Those who knew him best say he left some huge shoes to fill.
Sam Rand's name will always be a part of the Fair. Agriculture Commissioner Jim Graham's name is also firmly esconced. Wesley Wyatt is Acting Manager. He says it feels strange watching this fair open without his former boss.
"Well Mr. Rand loved to see it all come together," Wyatt says. "It takes a whole year to plan for the fair and put all the pieces of the puzzle together. And when it actually started falling into place, I think that was his favorite time of year."
It's also one of Jim Graham's favorite time, though for him too, this year is different.
"So it's a degree of sadness certainly," admits Graham, "but we're glad we had Sam Rand and we miss him. His spirit is all over this fairground."
"He did a masterful job in renovating the grounds," Wyatt explains, "and managing this fair. He was carrying on a tradition that we have here in Raleigh, North Carolina."
"I would say that this fair is certainly a reflection of what he wanted to have done and a reflection of the work that he put into it," says Wyatt.
To the casual observer, the past years' work on the Fairgrounds isn't so obvious. Wesley Wyatt says Sam Rand's focus in the past year had been on things unseen.
"The underground utility service, the storm drain sewer service, all the things that are part of the fairground infrastructure that make the place so much nicer, so much safer for families to come and make the whole fair run better."
The work is done, everything's in place thanks to Sam Rand and his staff. So we let him, once more, beckon the crowds.