RALEIGH, N.C. — With opening day at the North Carolina State Fair two weeks away, the economic rollercoaster that's heading down for now has organizers looking to make sure fairgoers get the most for their money.
This year, the fair, which runs Oct. 16-26, will stay open an extra day with the goal of bringing in 1 million visitors. That means keeping the focus on fun, when many people are worried about money.
"We hope the economy won't turn people away, but we understand that everyone is going through tough times right now," said State Fair spokeswoman Natalie Alford.
So, organizers are highlighting the financially friendly side.
"We have a lot of free entertainment at the fair this year. You can find free grounds acts all over," Alford said.
And, of course, the fair is deeply rooted in agriculture.
"The families can always come out here and walk around the exhibits for free," Alford said. "There are lots of things for the kids to do in the Kiddie Land Fun Park."
Fair officials are also pushing the networks of buses this year for local fairgoers who want to save on gasoline and say that those traveling further distances should consider the rails.
"From the Charlotte area, you can take Amtrak, and it drops off right in front of the State Fair gates and picks you up in the afternoon," Alford said.
And for those who say the midway is a must, fair officials note that ride and food prices did not go up this year.
Advance tickets can be purchased online, and starting Thursday, advance walk-up tickets will be available at several locations.
Advance tickets will save $2 per adult admission ticket and $8 per ride sheet.
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