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Agricultural Review

A whole lot of people had ‘A Whole Lotta Happy’ at the 2009 State Fair; new attendance record set

The 2009 N.C. State Fair ended a record year on a record-setting day, one of many highlights of the annual fall tradition. In total, 877,939 attended the Fair, with five days of record attendance posted.

“Fairgoers seemed to have a great time and they came out in strong numbers, despite some wet weather early in the 11-day run,” said Agriculture Commissioner Steve Troxler. “One of the things we were most excited about was the record collection of canned goods to help feed the hungry. A total of 237,534 pounds of food were collected on Food Lion Hunger Relief Day. That is a tremendous effort and nearly 70,000 pounds above the 2008 level.”

On top of the successful canned food drive, the Fair also posted four sold-out or nearly sold-out concerts in Dorton Arena, including the shows of North Carolina natives Kellie Pickler and Eric Church, and contemporary Christian artists Third Day and Jeremy Camp with Tenth Avenue North.

The fair competitions also saw strong interest, with entries up sharply almost across the board. Some categories saw a nearly 300 percent increase in entrants.

“I think part of what we saw were people returning to traditional crafting and gardening activities; basically a return to things familiar and rooted in traditions,” Troxler said. “And the State Fair is an annual tradition for many families in North Carolina.”

Other highlights from 2009 include:

  • A “green theme” for the Farm Animal Frenzy competition. Students from 15 high schools created cows, chickens, pigs or sheep from recycled materials and a wooden saw horse base. The end result were highly creative and imaginative farm animals made from milk jugs, drink cans, phone cords and other recycled materials. The top three teams from first to third were Durham Cresset Christian Academy, Wakefield High School and Panther Creek High School. The People’s Choice Award went to Fuquay-Varina High School.
  • Celebration of the 4-H’s 100th Anniversary.
  • A stop by the Lego Experience Tour, which featured play areas for kids and adults to create Lego masterpieces.
  • Free makeovers and product samples in the interactive L’Oreal Paris tent.
  • The first Deep Fried Triangle Tweetup, a gathering of social media fans of the Fair.
  • The IGX Guitar Hero World Tour Video Game Tournament. Guitar Hero players could show off their gaming prowess and compete for prizes in this first time event.

The 2009 State Fair also saw two longtime superintendents bring an end to nearly 40-year careers at the Fair.
Jim Trantham, a musical instrument maker from Canton and leader of the Village of Yesteryear, and Annette Pulley, superintendent of the Folk Festival, have been instrumental in carrying on North Carolina’s crafting and music and dance traditions at the State Fair.

If you missed the 2009 Fair, or are already missing the fun and excitement from this year, be sure to mark your calendars for Oct. 14-24, 2010.

NCDA&CS Public Affairs Division, Andrea Ashby, Director
Mailing Address:1001 Mail Service Center, Raleigh NC 27699-1001
Physical Address: 2 West Edenton Street, Raleigh NC 27601
Phone: (919) 707-3001; FAX: (919) 733-5047

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