Progress Photo: The countdown is on

October 10, 2012 By: Firecracker Category: 2012 N.C. State Fair

The finishing touches are put on the Giant Wheel

With less than 24 hours left before the gates open on the 2012 edition of the N.C. State Fair, employees and volunteers were busy putting the finishing touches on rides, concession stands, exhibits and the grounds.

Gates will open for Preview Day on Thursday at 3 p.m. On Preview Day only, ride lovers can purchase a ride wristband for $28, good for any ride between 3:30 p.m. and midnight. The wristband cannot be used on any other days.

Thursday is also the last day to buy discounted gate and ride tickets. Tickets can be purchased at walk-up locations until 6 p.m. and online until midnight. For more information, go to

Powers Great American Midways will return in 2010

December 01, 2009 By: Flying Bob Category: Uncategorized

The Vertigo swing tower made its debut at the 2009 State Fair.

The Vertigo swing tower made its debut at the 2009 State Fair.

If you’ve grown accustomed to the rides and games at the N.C. State Fair, you’ll be happy to know that the company operating the midway will return again next year.

State Fair organizers have signed a contract with Powers Great American Midways to operate the carnival rides and games at the 2010 State Fair. Under the contract, Powers will pay the State Fair a fee based on the number of people who buy admission tickets to the Fair.

That financial arrangement has been good for the State Fair, which does not receive any taxpayer dollars to cover operations. Powers paid the 2009 State Fair more than $3.4 million.

Powers has operated the carnival at the State Fair since 2006. The company has introduced several new rides over the years, including the Vertigo, Vortex and Drag Strip. Powers’ performance history and the financial benefit to the State Fair were factors in the decision to sign a contract with the company for next year, says State Fair Manager Wesley Wyatt.

The 2010 State Fair is scheduled for Oct. 14-24.

Will you use your Preview Day Unlimited Ride Wristband on this new ride?

August 31, 2009 By: Cotton Candy Category: 2009 N.C. State Fair


While deep-fried food and heart-pounding thrill rides may not seem like the most natural of companions, the two always share the spotlight during the Fair. We’re always keeping an eye out for the newest additions to both, and we just learned that the ride pictured at left will debut at the N.C. State Fair in October.

The ride is a combination of the beloved swings and a drop zone-type ride. As you can tell from the photo, riders are swung in a circle while the swings go up and down the high yellow pole.

If this ride tops your to-do list for the Fair, we have good news for you: For the second year, Powers Great American Midways will offer the Preview Day Unlimited Ride Wristband for $25 on Thursday, Oct. 15.

Gates open at 3 p.m. that day, and the Midway opens at 3:30 p.m. The wristband will be good until the Fair closes at midnight.

You can only purchase the wristband on Preview Day, Thursday, Oct. 15, at the Midway ticket booths. You can, however, go ahead and get a great deal on advance ride tickets by buying early online or at select locations beginning Oct. 1. Check out our ride ticket site for the full scoop.

Check out the YouTube demonstration of the ride below. It’s filmed tilted to the left, techno music and all,  so crane your head and pretend you’re on the ride.

Note: If the video doesn’t appear, try refreshing your browser.

The countdown is on!

January 23, 2009 By: Firecracker Category: 2008 N.C. State Fair

According to my countdown, it looks like we are 265 days away from the 2009 N.C. State Fair! Which means the clock is ticking for the Fairgrounds staff to pull together another stellar entertainment lineup and to get everything ready for another great event.

The past few months were spent wrapping up the 2008 N.C. State Fair and attending fair conventions. A few highlights:

  • In December, the State Fair signed a contract with Powers Great American Midways to provide the Midway for the 2009 N.C. State Fair. We are excited to work with Corky, Charlie and their very professional crew again. They brought in a number of spectacular rides in 2008 and we’re looking forward to see what they bring to Raleigh this year.

  • Also in December, Natalie Alford (aka the Green Thing), presented a case study on our social networking efforts at the annual convention of the International Association of Fairs and Expos. She talked about our successful efforts of reaching out via Facebook, MySpace, Twitter and Blogspot as part of a panel discussion.
  • Earlier this month, assistant State Fair manager Ray Frost was inducted as President of the N.C. Association of Agricultural Fairs at its annual meeting that was held in RTP. You don’t hear us talk about Ray very much because he’s very much a behind-the-scenes-kinda-guy, overseeing the fair’s operations. I think Ray will do a great job as president and I expect for some very interesting business meetings with Ray behind the gavel. Congrats, Mr. Prez!

Now that 2008 is officially behind us, we are fully focused on 2009. The most pressing agenda items are:

  • Come up with a great theme for the 2009 N.C. State Fair that encapsulates everything about the State Fair, but in 7 words or less. And then the challenge is on for our graphic designers to make it visually exciting as well. Feel free to let us know your ideas!

  • Start making offers for the Dorton Arena nightly concert lineup. Got any ideas of some up-and-coming artists that you would love to see in Dorton Arena?
  • Finalize the grounds entertainment lineup for Kiddieland Stage, Waterfall Stage, Bluegrass Stage, Expo Center, Grandstand and roaming acts.
  • Continue work on the Fairgrounds Master Plan, which is intended to guide us through the next 20 years of Fairgrounds improvements. Details coming soon!

Well, we are off to a running start. We’ll let you know when we’ve accomplished these first steps!

Stick ‘em

October 15, 2008 By: Flying Bob Category: 2008 N.C. State Fair

The N.C. State Fair has arguably the largest midway in North America. And each of the 100-plus rides on the midway undergoes a rigorous inspection by the N.C. Department of Labor before the first rider steps on.

Bureau Chief Jonathan Brooks and his crew of 24 inspectors have been working diligently to inspect each ride to make sure it is 100 percent in line with the manufacturer’s specifications. If it doesn’t pass muster, it doesn’t “get stuck.” That’s industry lingo for the sticker that certifies a ride has passed inspection. North Carolina’s standards for ride safety are among the strictest in the country.

Come out to the State Fair’s Preview Day on Thursday, Oct. 16, buy a Preview Day Wristband for $25, and you’ll be able to ride all the rides you can stomach between 4 p.m. and midnight. The Preview Day Wristband is good only on Oct. 16.

New Rides @ the N.C. State Fair

August 14, 2008 By: Firecracker Category: 2008 N.C. State Fair

The Claw in action at the 2007 N.C. State Fair

I had a chance yesterday to talk with Charlie Belknap from Powers Great American Midways, the official carnival provider of the 2008 N.C. State Fair. Powers has been busy since we saw them last October. As a matter of fact, they’re in Maryland this week, traveling to New York next week, and on to Pennsylvania before making their way back south for the Wayne Regional Agricultural Fair (Goldsboro) in September.

According to Charlie, they’ve been busy and are anticipating another huge Midway at the Fair, with around 110 rides – give or take a few. For those of you who aren’t aware, this is the largest Midway in North America. (If there is a larger Midway, we haven’t been able to find evidence of it.)

In the off season, Powers purchased several new family rides. These are rides that will be in Kiddieland, but will accommodate parents. (I don’t have kids, but I can see how this is a great idea!) Kids can take their parents for a spin on a tricked-out motorcycle on the new ride, Hog Wild. Surf’s Up takes you to the top of the waves and the Cobra Coaster is a kid-sized roller coaster with a fun Eygptian theme.

As usual, Powers is bringing along several new “spectacular” rides to keep the big kids happy. The Vortex (pictured above) is a brand new ride to Powers (a similar ride was on the grounds a few years ago). This one takes eight riders – four on each end of a 100-foot-tall arm. Riders are swung around in a huge circle at speeds of about 60 mph, which exerts up to 3.8gs on the riders. Not only will folks on the ground be mesmerized by this ride, the lighting package will dazzle as well. Powers added a computerized LED light package to the ride for a cool light show.

Powers is also introducing the Mind Blaster to the N.C. State Fair, and they purchased a new Sizzler for this season. Another new ride is on order from a manufacturer in Italy, but it is uncertain if it will be delivered in time for the Fair. We’ll just have to wait and see if it will debut this year!

In addition, Powers is teaming up with Wade Shows to bring us “the grandest roller coaster the N.C. State Fair has ever seen,” according to Charlie. “It’s better looking and more thrilling than anything you’ve had before.” To be honest, I was a little skeptical, until I saw a picture of the RC-48 Coaster. Now I’m a believer. (I know, I shouldn’t have doubted you Charlie!)

I’m not usually a ride person because I can’t handle the spinning rides, but I think you can definitely expect to find me on the Vortex and the RC-48 this year!

A shout-out to Powers Great American Midways: In addition to the new rides, they are adding several new concession stands, all of which are outfitted with LED lighting systems. LED lights are brighter and consume much less energy than traditional lights, making a perfect tie-in with our green initiatives. For example, the LED lighting system for the Vortex will use just 7 amps of power, compared to about 80 amps if it was outfitted with a normal light package. What a great way to help conserve energy costs and reduce our carbon footprint!

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