The 2015 State Fair ended just over a week ago with attendance topping the 1 million mark. This week Casey Cardinal is offering a trip down memory lane to look back at his top five highlights from the fair.
Friday Frenzy and record attendance days: The fair started with two record attendance days. Preview Day on Thursday brought in a record 50,327 people. Friday’s new promotion, Friday Frenzy, brought in 90,954 people, many who took advantage of the $5 admission for students and an unlimited ride wristband promotion. It was a great kickoff to 11 days of strong attendance.
Opening Ceremonies in the new Tobacco Pavilion: New buildings at the fairgrounds are a big deal and with the rainy weather at the beginning of October, fair officials were a little worried the new Tobacco Pavilion wouldn’t be ready in time. Luckily, a break in the weather and a lot of hard work from fair staff and contractors had the building ready for its ribbon-cutting ceremony to kick off the fair. Commissioner Troxler, along with special guests and several of Casey’s mascot friends, opened the fair. The new pavilion serves as a peaceful resting place during the fair, with a fire burning in the fireplace most nights. During the rest of the year, the pavilion will be available for rent for special events.
The Jr. Livestock Sale of Champions: On the first Saturday night of the fair, most fairgoers were probably enjoying the midway or eating a delicious fried something or other. They were probably unaware that a record amount of money was being raised that night at the Junior Livestock Sale of Champions. A full house inside the Jim Graham building saw the auction garner more than $176,000. The sale highlights champion animals that have been exhibited at the fair. The youth exhibitors receive 60 percent of the purchase amount, while the remaining 40 percent goes to support youth programs and scholarships. Money raised at the 2014 fair funded about two dozen scholarships.
Military Day Parade: On Wednesday, Oct. 21, the fair paid tribute to U.S. military service members for their contributions to the country at the North Carolina Education Lottery Military Appreciation Day. The first 3,000 people through the gates received U.S. flags, and guests enjoyed special music by the 440th Army Band on the Waterfall Stage and the equipment displayed in the Grandstand – including a real Abrams Main Battle Tank and a Bradley Fighting Vehicle. The highlight of the day was the military parade. All of the fair’s grounds entertainers participated, as well as Athens Drive High School Band, several military vehicles and reenactment groups. It was an honor to pay tribute to our armed services.
Meeting New Fans in Kiddieland: I spent some time each day greeting my youngest fans in Kiddieland – giving out record numbers of hugs, high-fives and fist bumps. In addition to Kiddieland, I saw fairgoers at Dorton Arena, Heritage Circle, Field of Dreams and several of the selfie stations. I even conquered the Wacky Worm rollercoaster. Wait, shouldn’t I be getting the worm and not the other way around?
Now I am taking a much deserved break, but I may make a few special appearances at some events before the end of the year. Nothing could be finer than the N.C. State Fair. See ya Oct. 13-23, 2016.