Fair Ends Amid Raindrops, Smaller Crowds
Posted October 27, 1997 12:00 a.m. EST
RALEIGH — After a 10-day run held in a combination of sun, showers and utter downpours, the North Carolina State Fair ended at midnight. The rain didn't dampen the spirits of fairgoers but it did leave profits all wet.
Fair organizers took comfort in Saturday's crowd because it set a new record for one-day attendance. On that day, 136,000 visitors crammed the fairgrounds.
Vendors were philosophical. Their sales were often a matter of the suitability of the day's weather to their product. So an ice cream vendor found it slow-going on the cold, rainy days -- but that same weather gave added appeal to grilled corn on the cob. So handy for warming up chilled fingers.
Some of the rides were also affected by rain. In many cases, the seats were wet but in other instances the rain also created potential safety hazards. Wet wheels and tracks can pose problems for ride cars in staying on the straight and narrow.
Still, vendors are ready to come back for next year. John Holder says you have both good and bad years; he expects the future will make up for any 1997 losses. And, he noted, coming to the fair "gets in your blood."
Fair Information Director Jim Knight says as expected, the abnormal amount of rain dampened the event's attendance figures by roughly 16 percent compared to 1996.
Knight said the figures are not as bad as they seem, however, because they are being compared to 1996, when the fair had record attendance. He said if this year's event is compared to others of the past five or 10 years, it is not down significantly.