By Marilyn Peguero, NBC17
The North Carolina State Fair opens Thursday afternoon and organizers hope for a record turnout this year, despite the tough economic times.
“Everybody has been in the doldrums. It’s State Fair time. So let’s get ready for happy,” said N.C. Agriculture Commissioner Steve Troxler Monday.
Advance ticket sales are double what they were last year, organizers say. But the turnout often depends on the weather.
The attendance record was set in 2007 with about 850,000 people.
This year, there’s a big new slide. A new snack: chocolate covered bacon. And a new chopper-hopper ride. But organizers say the biggest attraction in this economy is the ticket price: $5 if you buy it in advance and $7 at the gate.
“I challenge anybody to pay $5 for an admission ticket and come out here and don’t think they get their value,” Troxler said.
Vendors and non-profits setting up booths Monday said they’re optimistic.
The South Raleigh Civitan Club relies on the fair for about 60 percent of its fundraising.
“We’re hoping for good weather and big crowds and we’d like for it to be cold. We sell a lot of coffee and hot chocolate,” said Archie Cowan, who helped set up the club’s booth Monday.
One part of the fair started Monday: the horse show. The stands were almost empty. But many hope that will change when the rest of the fair opens Thursday.
The U.S. Equine Rescue League also relies heavily on donations from people at the fair.
“The few people that we have seen, we’ve had several inquiries about fostering and adoption. So that part has been very positive for us. So we hope to see more people come by,” said Linda Chamblee, a volunteer.
The rest of the fair opens Thursday at 3 p.m. You can buy advance tickets through Thursday.
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