NC State Fair set to open despite setbacks from Hurricane Matthew

RALEIGH, N.C. (WNCN) – Preparations for the 2016 North Carolina State Fair have been affected by Hurricane Matthew.

Click for more photos of 2016 N.C. State Fair food

Not only are organizers a little behind on setup, they’re worried about attendance.

At a media lunch event Monday afternoon, officials said they don’t yet know the full impact Matthew will have on the State Fair.

They need a couple more days in order to get a clearer picture of the impact.

But, they do know for sure that some people just will not be able to make it out this year.

“When your home, your family is threatened, you’re not thinking about an entertainment or making a trip to Raleigh,” said David Smith, chief deputy commissioner of Agriculture.

Smith said ahead of the state’s biggest showcase of agriculture, North Carolina farmers are hurting.

“Soy beans, cotton, many of those fields are just under water and we really won’t know until after that water recedes, as to how much damage there it,” said Smith.

Vendors and competitors in livestock shows are dealing with massive amounts of flooding.

“For our swine show, about 75 percent of the exhibitors are from eastern North Carolina. So they probably aren’t going to make it, or not as many of them will make it,” said Smith.

In addition to a loss of farmers at the fair, some food or merchandise stands may be absent because so many roads are still under water or blocked by debris.

“For many of them the State Fair is a big event for them, it may be the biggest event of the year. So if they’re not able to come that surely will have some impact on them,” said Brian Long, State Fair spokesman.

Hurricane Matthew even delayed setup for the fair with heavy rains over the weekend.

Some rides that need inspection aren’t even built yet.

Labor Commissioner Cherie Berry said her department will conduct thorough inspections, no matter how long it takes.

“It will put a time limit on them trying to get everything open by opening day at the right time,” said Berry.

The fair will open Thursday as planned.

Organizers are hoping all vendors and farmers will eventually make it to the fairgrounds by the end of the event.

Monday’s event also featured new food items that will be sold at the State Fair this year.

Attendees voted on their favorite of the new featured food items, and the hot crab dip from Captain Neills Seafood won over the most taste buds.

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