North Carolina State Fair


The North Carolina State Fair is getting ready to open its gates Thursday. The 11-day event features rides, exhibits, livestock, and entertainment. The State Fair's Brian Long says there's always something new on the food front.

"We have a massive double caramel apple that's called a 'double decker doozy' that's been covered in chocolate and other candy and what not," explains Long.

Fans of rides, animals and fried food are looking forward to the start of the North Carolina State Fair later this week. Organizers expect another good crowd after last year's attendance topped one million people. Brian Long is a spokesman for the fair. He says music is also a big attraction at the annual event.

The state Department of Agriculture is making some changes at this year's State Fair. Twenty-five people became sick from E.coli contamination after last year's fair concluded. A task force was formed by State Agriculture Commissioner Steve Troxler to explore ways to keep infections from happening again. Some food vendors are being moved from areas where competition animals are kept. Troxler says a better effort is being made to limit human and animal contact.

Officials say a livestock building at the State Fair is the likely source of an E-coli outbreak that made 27 fairgoers sick.

State officials say their investigation doesn't point to any specific animal or breed of animal. But they're confident the bacteria came from the Kelley building at the fairgrounds, where cows, goats and sheep were housed. Megan Davies is the state epidemiologist.

Megan Davies: "It is shed intermittently by these animals naturally, so it's likely to be on an animal or in their environment at any given moment. "

The North Carolina State Fair attracted more than million people for the second straight year. The fair closed out its 10-day run yesterday with more than 100,000 people. But overall attendance fell about 7 percent short of last year's record numbers. State agriculture spokesman Paul Jones says vendors reported mixed reviews about this year's revenue.

State fair officials say attendance has been strong at the annual event this year.

Last year the state fair set a record attendance level of more than a million people. But spokesman Brian Long says he and other officials aren't really interested in breaking that record.

Brian Long: "We're very pleased with where we are right now numbers-wise, but we just want people to take advantage of the good weather that's coming up and come on out. "