Posted October 13, 2008 10:13 a.m. EDT
As a kid, my brother and I pestered our parents to take us to the N.C. State Fair on the first night. When I started driving myself to the Fair, I finally understood their hesitation.
The Fair is a ton of fun, but getting there can be a test of your patience. The State Fair office has a great page with everything you need to know about parking and transportation.
The easiest (and likely the cheapest) way to get there is from one of the Park-and-Ride lots. It's $4 round-trip. I've used this option in the past, and it's a great way to avoid the traffic and parking hassles.
Parking at or near the Fairgrounds can be a dicey proposition. It all depends on when you're going, how much you're willing to pay and how far you're willing to walk. At the bottom of this post, I've excerpted some parking hints from then NC State Fair Web site.
I'll also remind you to expect delays through west Raleigh during the run of the Fair. Hillsborough Street, Blue Ridge Road, Westchase Blvd., Trinity Road and Edwards Mill Road are some of the usually congested spots. If you're trying to get somewhere in a hurry during the Fair, choose a route that bypasses that part of town.
Here are those parking tips -- bring some patience and have a good time! (And stop by to see us at the WRAL tent!)
Be patient and expect delays
Free parking is available on State Fair, Carter-Finley Football Stadium and RBC Center properties. Fairgoers are encouraged to take Wade Avenue to the Edwards Mill Extension to park in these lots. There may be exceptions if events are scheduled at Carter-Finley or the RBC Center.
Recreational vehicles are not allowed to remain in the parking spaces owned by the State Fair between the hours of midnight and 8 a.m.
During the Fair, neighboring residents frequently convert parts of their property to small parking lots, and charge between $5 and $10 for space. This is not controlled by the State Fair.
Be Aware of Changes in Parking!
The parking lot at the northeast corner of the fairgrounds, between Trinity Road and Blue Ridge Road is paved and designated for Handicap Parking only. Concessionaires and exhibitors park in the lot west of RV Parking past Gate 9 along Trinity Road. Another option for exhibitors is just south of the fairgrounds across from Hillsborough Street and Gate 2. Cars that are parked in the Handicap Lot that do not have appropriate tags or plates will be towed.
In years past, fairgoers have been accustomed to parking alongside Wade Avenue, but both Wade Avenue and Edwards Mill Road are now designated as tow-away zones. Don't try it! The North Carolina Highway Patrol is not going to bend on this new policy, which is implemented for the safety and protection of pedestrians. Youth Center Road is also a tow-away zone.
On especially busy days, the Highway Patrol may shut down exits from Wade to Blue Ridge Road and from the inner beltline to Hillsborough -- starting as early as traffic demands it -- to encourage flow to Edwards Mill Road.
Plan for the unexpected
Don't wait until you've reached the fairgrounds to arrange meeting places for friends, even if they plan on following you a car behind. When a parking lot fills up, the attendant will deny entrance to cars, which means your car might get through and the people behind you might not. If your friends are in the car behind you, and you make it into the lot but your friends are waved on to another lot by the attendant, you need to have a plan for meeting on the grounds.
Remember to keep your cool while others about you may be losing their own. Don't let "parking rage" get the better of you.
You parked the car where?
Parking is free on N.C. State Fairgrounds property, except for recreational vehicles that park between the hours of midnight and 8:00 a.m.
For weary fairgoers who exit the gates only to discover that they are on the opposite side of the fairgrounds from where they parked, a tram service is available. The tram, a 25-passenger bus, will be circling the perimeter of the fairgrounds, making stops at Gates 2, 8 and 10. Another tram will shuttle passengers from Carter Finley Stadium to the fairgrounds on days of heavy attendance.
A separate tram service operates within the fairgrounds for a fee of $2 a ride. This tram stops at Gate 1, at the Folk Festival (near Gate 10), at Dorton Arena, and at Gate 8. Booths for purchasing tickets to ride are located at each of these stops. This interior tram will not be permitted to operate on days that attendance is especially heavy. Neither of the tram services is equipped with wheelchair lifts