North Carolina’s State Fair makes a comeback

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Photo Courtesy of Maya Johnson

Crowds are heavy at the North Carolina State Fair during closing weekend.

Maya Johnson, Copy Editor

After deciding to withhold the North Carolina State Fair in 2020 in favor of encouraging COVID safety and proper protocols, the official “all clear” has been given to continue with the festivities this year. The fair went public on October 14 and was open for ten full days of rides, games, and a variety of fried foods. Jacara Poole, who attended the fair during its opening weekend, offered some insight into her favorite part of the event.

“My favorite part of the fair was definitely the food,” said Poole. “They had so many options.”

According to Poole, some of the most popular food options this year included turkey legs, gourmet grilled cheese, fried Reese’s, funnel cakes, and more. The N.C. Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services, the group responsible for organizing the fair every year, is notorious for serving noteworthy food from local vendors and businesses. As is common with any tasty treat, however, fairgoers found that the wait times were longer than ever. Destiny Matute, who had recently been to the fair herself, shared her first-hand experience with the queues.

“It was really crowded,” said Matute. “The lines were really long for everything.”

The fair brings so many people of different backgrounds and lives together”

— van Dorsten

Although crowds are never appreciated, they raised even more unrest during the pandemic in particular. Close groups of people are a quick way for the virus to spread, especially if none of them are wearing masks. Even though the N.C. Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services advises fairgoers to get vaccinated and wear masks when attending the fair, it is difficult to enforce the policy at a venue where almost everyone is eating or drinking.

“There were no COVID protocols, and nobody was wearing a mask,” Poole said. “Some people will always follow the guidelines, but a majority will not.”

Many fairgoers also had concerns about the fair’s implementation of sanitizing stations, aside from social distancing. Caitlin Mendez, who attended the fair closing weekend, also shared the sentiment.

“There were some hand sanitizer dispensers, but other than that there were no protocols,” said Mendez.

Other fairgoers also described occasional handwashing stations, but not enough to be considered COVID-safe. However, this didn’t stop attendees from enjoying themselves. 

This year, the fair claims to have introduced over 40 new vendors from all different cultures. Not only were there stands selling traditional food, but there were also a few that featured cultural clothing and accessories. Alexandra van Dorsten expressed her own appreciation for the wide range of people brought together at the event.

The fair brings so many people of different backgrounds and lives together,” van Dorsten said. “It is intriguing to just sit and watch people interact.”

Although its comeback was a long time coming, fairgoers claim that the N.C. State Fair seems to have upheld its slogan that “nothing could be finer.”

“It was a lot of fun,” said Poole. “There was good food, fun rides, and it was a little expensive but worth it.”