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NC Fair Introduces Sensory-Friendly Day

A view of the North Carolina State Fair
N.C. State Fair
A view of the North Carolina State Fair

The N.C. State Fair announcedit would reserve a special day for people with sensory aversions that can find the traditional noises and lights difficult to deal with.

Called accessABILITY Day, the Fair will look and sound a bit different from 8 a.m. to noon on Oct. 17, including:

  • Rides and games will open at 9 a.m. and will operate with no lights or music playing.
  • Vendors will operate with no lights or music at their booths.
  • Music stages will play only acoustic sets with light amplification.
  • The public address system will only be used for lost visitor announcements.

The State Fair announced the new day in partnership with Triangle-based software company Bandwidth, which became a major sponsor of the fair.

"For years, our team has been brainstorming ways to make the fair more inclusive. We’ve spoken to advocates in the community about what steps we can take to be more welcoming to all North Carolinians, regardless of ability," Agriculture Commissioner Steve Troxler said in a statement. "To really put a focus on inclusion, specifically with a program like accessABILITY Day, we needed a partner who also strives every day to see both its employees and its community succeed. Bandwidth is the perfect corporate partner for this project."

The fair will mostly resume normal operations at noon, though there will be some all-day accessABILITY Day activities.

Bandwidth, a global communications software company homegrown in the Triangle, is building a new global headquarters campus at the corner of Edwards Mill and Reedy Creek Roads, the former location of the N.C. State Fair Park and Ride lot. The company agreed to build two replacement parking lots for use during the fair that will also serve as staging areas for emergency response agencies during disaster operations, support services staging for urban projects and expanded parking options during the annual N.C. State Fair and at other major events.

Jason deBruyn is WUNC's Supervising Editor for Digital News, a position he took in 2024. He has been in the WUNC newsroom since 2016 as a reporter.
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