07/27/11 — New walkways for fall fair

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New walkways for fall fair

By Aaron Moore
Published in News on July 27, 2011 1:46 PM

People attending the Wayne Regional Agricultural Fair this fall are in for a pleasant change following improvements made over the summer, officials said.

Fair Manager Milton Ingram said Tuesday that construction crews completed paving all the fairground's new walkways Monday. With two ovals of pavement stretching across the fairgrounds, fairgoers won't have to step on the dirt for any reason.

"We've been wanting to do it for years, and we finally got in good enough financial shape to do it," Ingram said. "We're trying to make it as customer-friendly as possible. It's a never-ending process."

Workers have also installed metal grates every 100 feet along the track to run electric wires and water lines underneath the pavement instead of across walkways.

"People will not be stepping over any kind of wires," Ingram noted.

Ingram said that in years past, he has noticed many times people struggling to push strollers or wheelchairs over the uneven ground. This year, Ingram said fairgoers should find the grounds, which are located off U.S. 117 South, much easier to navigate.

The paving project, which started in May and cost around $230,000, is part of $1.5 million the fair has spent in improvements since 1985.

Ingram said Les Powers, the carnival owner who has contracted with the fair to provide the carnival rides since 2000, has been up to view the improvements and extended his contract for another three years.

With a smoother fair experience, Ingram said he hopes to attract more people than ever to this year's edition of the fair, which is annually recognized as the best county fair in both North and South Carolina. It will be held Sept. 29 through Oct. 8.

"The main thing we're doing here is we try to make it a fun event as well as an educational event," he said. "We're trying to teach people about agriculture and about the agricultural history of Wayne County."

Ingram also said he has offered the leaders of the Relay for Life the opportunity to use the fairgrounds free of charge for the event, but they have not yet given him a decision.

"We're doing it as a community service," he said.

More changes on the horizon for next year's fair include renovating the rabbit and chicken display building and updating farm equipment exhibits to include the prices of the tractors, combines and other devices, Ingram said.

"I think non-agriculture people will be shocked at the price of some of this equipment," he said.