Local News

State Fair Attendance Up After Day 2

Posted October 14, 2007 12:08 a.m. EDT
Updated October 15, 2007 12:27 a.m. EDT

— Preliminary numbers showed attendance was up after the second day of the North Carolina State Fair.

More than 148,000 people passed through the gates in the first two days. That's about 1,000 more than last year.

Numbers from the first day's attendance were not as glowing. About 50,000 people attended the fair’s opening day on Friday – down about 2,500 from last year and the lowest number in five years.

Before the fair opened, organizers said they hoped good weather and the largest midway in North America would help draw a record 1 million visitors this year.

Some fairgoers said they were surprised at the turnout when they arrived Saturday.

“I didn’t have trouble finding parking, and we got through the line really quick,” said Rebecca Crane.

“I didn’t think there were half as many people waiting for tickets or for parking,” said Emily New said.

Marie Barbour has been collecting tickets at the fair's front gate for years.

“Today has not been quite as hectic as we usually expect on the first Saturday,” she said.

The crowds was growing by Saturday night, though, and fair officials said sales of concert tickets have been great. At least three concerts have been sold out.

Admission prices have been raised $1 from a year ago, to $7. A sheet of ride tickets costs the same but has six fewer tickets than last year.

Nightly fireworks went off on schedule Saturday, despite concerns about setting off the explosive entertainment during a drought. The fire marshal issued a permit for the fireworks on Sept. 26, and crews from the Western Wake Fire Department will be on hand every night.

In the past 20 years, the State Fair fireworks have never been canceled, even during the severe drought of 2002.

But State Fair Manager Wesley Wyatt sent a letter telling all vendors and exhibitors to conserve water. Vehicles and food trailers may only be spot cleaned, and fair workers will wash down the streets only as needed for public health.

Watering plants and gardens is also restricted, and staff will be on the lookout for leaky hoses.