The annual Rocky Mount Fair is offering free admission when it opens early Tuesday.
The fair is kicking off earlier in the day than usual because Nash County schools are closed Tuesday, said Norman Chambliss III, a principal in Chambliss & Rabil Contractors, which has run the fair for 31 years. His grandfather started the fair 77 years ago.
“We’re hoping kids will come to the fair earlier than normal to have more time to enjoy the rides,” Chambliss said.
This year’s fair, which opens at 1 p.m. on Tuesday, is focusing on community involvement, with a focal point being stage performances that include Karaoke and cheerleading contests.
On Tuesday, admission is free until 6 p.m., when adults are charged $5 admission.
Chambliss said Friday that 15 to 25 businesses will have displays at the fair promoting their products and services.
“We are going to have more community exhibits and more community vendors and local business people involved in the fair this year than ever before,” he said. “There is so much involvement that we are going to put up a circus-sized tent at the fairgrounds to put vendors and community exhibitors under the tent for their presentations.”
Playworld Amusements, which has been hired for the fourth consecutive year to manage the midway rides, is adding several new ones at this year’s event, which is scheduled to run through Oct. 14 at the Rocky Mount Fairgrounds on old U.S. 64.
A cheerleading competition featuring 14 local schools is scheduled from 5 to 7 p.m. Oct. 10.
Chambliss said Friday that the community talent show will be going on all week.
“We’ve got a lot of interest in that, and several dance groups and singing groups have signed up to perform,” he said.
Pig races and a petting zoo are being offered every day of the fair.
General admission to the fair is $5, with free admission Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday until 7 p.m. for kids with school ticket.
All parking is free.
Gates open at 4 p.m. on Wednesday, Thursday and Friday, and at 1 p.m. on Saturday and Sunday.
Wristbands allowing unlimited rides will be available every day for $20 each per person. Individual tickets can be purchased for $1 each. Each ride requires three to five tickets.
Helicopter rides are being offered for $20 per person.
Chambliss said he is pleased with the brisk weather forecast for the coming week of the fair, which calls for sunny and partly cloudy days with temperatures ranging from lows in the 40s and 50s and highs in the 60s and 70s.
“(The fair) is coming together very well. I’m excited about it,” Chambliss said.