RALEIGH – Record attendance on the final day didn’t prevent the 2008 N.C. State Fair from falling below last year’s overall turnout.
Sunday’s attendance totaled 101,775, breaking the mark of 98,433 on the last day of the 2007 fair. But The News & Observer of Raleigh reports that this year’s total attendance of 765,067 was down about 11 percent below last year’s record of 858,611.
N.C. Department of Agriculture spokesman Brian Long said officials took note of the fact that advance sales for the fair were down. Long also said a combination of cool temperatures, a threat of rain and a struggling economy combined to keep attendance down.
Workers or guests, people are the fair’s most compelling exhibit
By Martha Quillin, Staff Writer : Found Here
Of all that is on exhibit at the N.C. State Fair, the most dynamic display is the daily parade of people. Some have come to work, parking their motor homes on the edge of a city they will never get to know, working long hours to entertain people they will never see again. This fair is among the last stops for most of the full-time carnival workers, and, as the season winds down, some wear the miles on their faces.
The people who pay to pass through the gate are tired sometimes, too, but they have come into a sensory experience so intense it makes them forget everything else for a while. So many cottony-candy, oniony, popcorny, horsey smells, so many colors of lights, such a choir of voices, such a whoosh of freedom in the flight of the Ferris wheel.
It’s so American, the fair — the entrepreneurial spirit of the salesman, the ingenuity of the craftsman, the grit of the traveling life, the earnestness of the child who has raised a calf to a ribbon-winning beef cow only to watch it be sold and led away.
The faces of the fair are at the same time familiar and exotic, like a favorite candy bar dipped in batter and deep fried. It’s us, with extra sugar sprinkles.
Attendance this year has slumped at the N.C. State Fair. Poor economy and cold weather are cited as key factors.
RALEIGH At noon Wednesday, only five people were riding the Ferris wheel. You could have Rollerbladed down the middle of the midway.
Not a soul lined up to whack a mole, and the vendor selling tickets to see the world’s smallest woman was dozing in his chair.
It doesn’t take the seasoned eye of a craft judge to determine that things are a mite slow at the N.C. State Fair this year.
N.C. Agriculture Commissioner Steve Troxler cites cold weather as the culprit. Vendors and fairgoers put the blame squarely on a slumping economy. Longtime vendors say business is down this year between 20 percent and 50 percent. And visitors arrive with smaller wads of bills.
“I brought $50, and we usually spend a couple hundred,” said Raquel Martin, a Raleigh mother of three who was at the fairgrounds Wednesday. “My teenagers both have jobs, so they’re spending their own money.”
Through Tuesday, 376,564 people had passed through the fair’s gates so far this year. That’s almost 10,000 fewer than the same period last year – and this year’s figure includes an extra half day the fair was open last Thursday. (Wednesday’s figures weren’t available at press time.)
At the fair’s outset Thursday, Troxler aimed for 1 million visitors this year – a goal that appears out of reach.
The fair did set a record for Tuesday attendance this year with 71,199. And organizers are hoping for a surge today, when admission is free for those who donate four cans of food to fight hunger.