WRAL.com at the State Fair

It's Less than Two Weeks Away!

Posted October 1, 2010 9:53 p.m. EDT

I have been an avid fairgoer my entire life. I went when there were laser light shows, I went when during the invisible dog craze, I went on opening day in 1994 when it was raining buckets (and bumped into my grandmother -- I came by this obsession honestly.) And never has the Fair sneaked up on me as much as it did this year. It's less than two weeks away! And the Dixie Classic Fair opens TODAY!

But just because I've been zoned out doesn't mean everything hasn't been trucking along as usual. I'll give you the basics in this blog entry, and from now until opening day I'll be passing along a deluge of previews and news. (Hmm... after the last couple of days, "deluge" might not be the best word.)

The basics: the dates this year are October 14-24. The Fair once again opens on Thursday at 3:00pm with a "Preview Day." There will also be unlimited ride wristbands available Thursday only; they'll be good from 3:30pm until closing. Unlimited ride wristbands are $25 and can't be purchased in advance, though you can use regular ride tickets Thursday instead of wristbands. Admission on Preview Day is $6 for adults and $2 for kids. The rest of the Fair admission is $8 for adults and $3 for kids. As always, adults over 65 and kids under 5 get in free.

You can buy advance tickets until October 14 (a list of advance ticket locations are available here; advance admission tickets are $6 for adults and $2 for kids, the same price as Preview Day. Advance ride tickets are $10 for sheet of 18, while the regular price is $1 per ticket (that's a crazy advance discount for ride tickets!) The Fair Web site is available now at http://www.ncstatefair.org/2010/index.htm.

After several years of major changes -- a shift in the midway, vendors changing, the development of the Dorton Triangle or whatever that new eating place is called, the push for recycling, the new Fairgrounds signage, the new Preview Day -- this year is pretty quiet. Last year's attendance of 877,939 was an all-time high. Will the Fair break a million this year? I wouldn't bet on it, but it looks more possible. Last year the second Saturday had relatively poor attendance (79,272) and the first Thursday and Friday are both relatively low. Given perfect weather during the whole Fair (yeah, right!) I can imagine an attendance of 950,000.

Tomorrow I'm going to take a look at that Flagship of Fried Fair Foods, the Texas State Fair. Based on what was being battered and put on a stick this year, I'm thinking people are running out of things to fry...