Smokey Bear has had a big year. In August the iconic spokesperson of fire prevention celebrated his 70th birthday and, at this year’s fair, we are celebrating the return of the original 25-foot, fiberglass talking Smokey.
Built in 1982, this Smokey Bear greeted a whole generation of fairgoers to the N.C. Forest Service exhibit before he had to be replaced with a blow-up version in 2010. But the blow up version just didn’t have as much personality as the original Smokey Bear and employees from district three were bound and determined to bring the original Smokey Bear back.
“He was the only one like him in the country,” said Brian Haines, N.C. Forest Service public information officer. “A lot of these guys remembered seeing this Smokey at the fair and wanted their own kids to see him too. But he needed a lot of work to continue greeting fairgoers each year.”
With a little innovation, determination and hard work, the District 3 team made the much-needed repairs. These repairs included: repairs to the hydraulics to operate the head swivel, head tilt, mouth and arm wave, replacing fiberglass in the legs, repainting and repairs to the wiring and audio components. Smokey Bear also got a new pair of blue jeans. District 3 includes Anson, Moore, Chatham, Richmond, Lee, Scotland, Montgomery and Stanly counties.
Be sure to stop by to visit Smokey Bear and the N.C. Forest Service exhibit and see some of the equipment that is used to fight forest fires. This equipment includes a helicopter, bulldozer and airplane. Also visit exhibits about how to be Firewise and pick up a free button or a tree seedling to take home. This exhibit is open daily from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m.
The Soil and Water Conservation exhibit is also nearby. Check out their exhibit to learn how these districts are working in both urban and rural areas to protect our resources. There is also a mobile soil classroom.