WRAL.com at the State Fair

Safety, fun is focus ahead of 2014 State Fair

Posted October 14, 2014 9:00 a.m. EDT

— Two days before the start of the 2014 North Carolina State Fair, officials are trying to put the focus back on fun, spokesman Brian Long said Tuesday.

Several issues, including concerns over ride safety and the possibility of concealed weapons being allowed on the grounds, have overshadowed some of the buildup to the state's biggest event.

"We're ready to focus on the fun part, and we want everybody to come out and have a good time," Long said. "The fair has always been about friends and family members coming out, making memories and having fun. We're ready to put on another good one."

In terms of ride safety, Long said North Carolina's ride safety laws will keep fairgoers safe.

Last year, five people were hurt at the fair when a ride called The Vortex starting moving as people were getting off. A criminal investigation found that a safety mechanism designed to keep the ride from moving had been disabled. The owners of the ride face more than $100,000 in fines from two government agencies, as well as a $150 million lawsuit from four who were hurt.

"We've had carnival companies come in before and say they've never seen the level of scrutiny they get in North Carolina," Long said. "The folks at the Department of Labor are as vigilant as they've ever been."