Such a lot of activity at the Friday Fair! Some impressions, information, and general thoughts.
* The new Expo Center is niiiiiiice. Wander in and you are enveloped in sound and the smells of fresh vegetables, cow, and a faint whiff of pipe smoke (the guy selling the apples for 25 cents each.) Instead of having a fence between you and the winning vegetables, you can walk up and down the aisles looking at them. They may be a little too accessible -- I'm nervous that some kids are going to grab a handful of winning hot peppers, taste 'em, and deeply regret it. It's neat to visit the vegetables and then wander over and visit the cows.
* Many rides were still and silent as of Friday morning. The rides that were functioning had for the most part short, fast-moving lines. The longest lines I saw were to milk the cow at the Expo Center and to get NC State milkshakes. Fortunately most of the rides have now passed inspection. WRAL also notes that Wade Shows has suspended the FASTPass program for the fair. People who bought the pass will be able to exchange it for food bucks and ride coupons.
* The "old" Midway still has plenty of games and rides on it. Instead of the two aisles of games and rides, however, it has only one. It's a little narrower. There is no arcade this year. There's also a kind of game, I don't know what it's called. There's a flat area covered with tokens and cheap prizes, and a mechanism pushing back and forth across the area, moving the tokens and cheap prizes toward the edge. The object is to feed a token into the machine, aiming it so you force the mechanism to push tokens and prizes over the edge. Anyway, that game isn't here this year either; at least I couldn't find it.
* The new midway has lots and lots of room and rides.
* The Kerr Scott building was very busy even as early as Friday morning, as you can see in this shot from the press room. Look out for the Segway!
* Next to the usual Coke machines you'll also see Vitamin Water machines. Some vendors are selling it as well. Vitamin Water? At the Fair? Oh, all right. (I like the Endurance and Energy flavors.)
* No matter how novel it is to be able to buy pierogies at the Fair, it's also very tough to eat them with a plastic fork.
* Matt's Shark Shack will not have shark until Monday. Until then you'll have to content yourself with gator, shrimp, or pork butts on a stick.
* Who needs the replication of the Presidential Limo as seen in the Expo Center? I got to see the Troxlermobile!
* Thanks to the new building and Wade Shows, there are plenty of places to sit down and rest your feet everywhere on the fairgrounds. Popular places were the low walls around the new Expo center, the Wade Shows rest stations, and of course the lawn in front of the Dorton Arena.
* The State Fair has a Webcam at http://www.ncstatefair.org/2005/webcam/index.htm. Meanwhile, WRAL has some slideshows and video related to the Fair that you can pick up at the special.
* First day's attendance: 45,864.