WRAL.com at the State Fair

Fair starts early but feels a little incomplete

Posted October 16, 2008 10:57 p.m. EDT
Updated October 16, 2008 11:47 p.m. EDT

Oh yeah, if you were going down Blue Ridge Road at around 4pm you KNEW that the Fair had come to town. Traffic was slow and bumper to bumper, as folks looking for funnel cake shared lane space with people who had tailgatin' on the brain.

Funny though. All that traffic and there was no North Carolina Highway Patrol out that I saw, just cars going by the traffic lights. (This got real interesting as people tried to turn into the handicapped parking area by Gate 11.) It was one way that it didn't feel quite like the "real Fair day" -- nobody directing traffic, no Troopers out making sure nobody got run over.

(By the time I left in the evening, the Troopers were out full force and the traffic lights were blinking red. I was very glad to see that!)

Sure, most of the rides were inspected and ready to go (three cheers!) but there were other indications here and there that the Fair had gotten off to a slightly early start. Some of them were silly and I'm not sure anybody else would have noticed (the Chick-Fil-A cow was not in evidence at the booth across from the Expo Building, the taffy-making machine wasn't) but some of them were more overt (one of the food booths I visited hadn't gotten everything in yet, some exhibit booths were empty, it looked like some food judging -- cake? -- was still going on.)

So everybody's still wondering: will Steve Troxler get his million? There were far more people at the Fair than I expected -- it felt like a good Monday or Tuesday -- but I don't think he'll get his million. My guess is about 850,000. The weather will conspire against him this weekend (Saturday looks rainy) with the possibility of more rain toward the end of next week. Gas prices might keep some people away, as might the poor economy and general. On the other hand, Thursday (canned food day) and the free admission for military on Wednesday might be more attractive propositions, really boosting attendance in the middle of the week.

Once we get past Saturday, the next four days look like fantastic giant-turkey-leg weather...