11/04/07 — Duplin County beginning to prepare for county fair return 2008

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Duplin County beginning to prepare for county fair return 2008

By Matthew Whittle
Published in News on November 4, 2007 2:02 AM

It's been five or six years since the last one, but Duplin County officials are optimistic that next year, the county fair can come back bigger and better than ever before.

But it's going to take planning and it's going to take effort, said county Cooperative Extension Director Ed Emory.

Fortunately, he continued, the one factor working in organizers' favor right now is the Duplin Commons and Events Center.

"We stopped having (a fair) because we were having it in a parking lot at Kenan Auditorium," Emory explained. "The space was not large enough to attract a carnival that was large enough to attract a crowd."

At the Commons and Events Center, though, space is not a problem.

The vision is for displays and booths to be set up inside the center, with the outdoor pens and staging areas used for livestock displays and the rest of the grounds home to the carnival. Perhaps just as important, is the fact that there is also plenty of parking.

Currently, though, planning is still in the very early stages, with late summer or early fall 2008 the likely target date.

Carl St. Clair, vice president of VenueWorks -- managing company for the Commons and Events Center -- and interim center director, explained that officials are still trying to figure out exactly who needs to be involved in the fair and what shape they might want it to take.

He is hoping to have the beginning of a plan in place sometime within the next few weeks.

It is something that county residents do seem to want, he added.

"Our goal is to make this happen," St. Clair said. "Since I've been involved in the event center, usually the first question people ask is when are going to have a fair. I think there is a lot of interest in the county."