It's time for the North Carolina State Fair again. The 11-day festivities kicked off in Raleigh Thursday, but the fair has been in the headlines a lot these past months.
Much discussed was a battle over carrying firearms at the state fairgrounds. A gun rights group challenged the fair's long-standing policy barring firearms on the property. A judge upheld the fair's stance on the issue.
The News & Observer reports that Judge Donald Stephens' ruling allowed fair officials to post signs indicating that guns aren’t allowed at the fair. The ruling also seemed to indicate that he would rule against gun rights advocates in a full lawsuit:
“I do have great respect for the constitutional right of citizens to possess and bear arms,” Stephens said. “But I do believe it would be unwise and imprudent for firearms to be carried into the State Fair, and if there is some way I can interpret these statutes to prohibit that, I will.”
State Fair spokesman Brian Long says fair workers will be watching for those who try to skirt the law.
"We will be checking for weapons," says Long. "If someone has one and they have their concealed carry permit, we will ask them to return it to their vehicle and we'll be a courteous as we possibly can be."
The State Department of Agriculture -- which runs the fair -- is also tightening up on who they will allow to operate rides. This comes after a contract worker with the fair's midway operations company was found guilty of intentionally sabotaging a ride last year. Five people were seriously injured.
That operator was charged with three felony counts of assault with a deadly weapon inflicting serious bodily injury. State fair spokesman Brian Long says there have been changes to who the fair lets administer the rides.
"We took some steps to require more information from our carnival contractor and any subcontractors they might bring in. But even more importantly, we took some steps to reduce the need for them to bring in any subcontractors."
Here are three bits of information that might make your trip to the fair a little easier:
- The fair has a mobile app for iPhone or Android. The app includes an interactive map of the grounds.
- Here's a link to the daily fair schedule.
- Consider attending the fair Thursday Oct. 23. If you bring five cans of Food Lion-brand food, you can get a free admission ticket.