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Rocky Mount Fair to last 11 days

By John Henderson

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The Rocky Mount Fair this year will be held in October over two weekends at the fairgrounds.

After organizers looked at several other possible locations as they seek to “reinvent” the fair, they settled on the site at 2631 N. Raleigh St. where the fair has been held since 1963.

This year’s fair will run 11 nights, from Oct. 12 through Oct. 22. It includes a weekend and a Saturday on the second weekend.

Last year’s event lasted seven days and one weekend.

Entrance to this year’s fair will be free every night for children 12 and younger. There is free parking. Admission will also be free for adults on most nights, with the exception being Fridays and Saturdays, when they pay $5 to get in.

Norman Chambliss III, whose family owns the fairgrounds property and has managed the fair since 1978, was looking at other more centrally located sites for this year’s fair as he brought on a professional manager next year to develop a plan for a larger agricultural fair. But Chambliss decided to hire Hubert Bullard to manage this year’s fair and become acquainted with its players. Bullard has managed the Robeson County fair for 30 years.

Chambliss had considered holding the fair at N.C. Wesleyan ‚Ä®College, the Golden East Crossing mall parking lot, on land in and around the Rocky Mount Sports Complex and the Crossing at 64 site. But for different reasons, none of the sites panned out this year. Chambliss said the football field site at the Rocky Mount Sports Complex would have been his preferred site to hold this year’s event, but the Nash County School Board, which owns the property, felt it needed more time to digest the proposal.

“I’m absolutely thrilled that this long process this year has landed me right back on the original fairgrounds, which is exactly where we ought to be,” Chambliss said.

Playworld Amusements out of Michigan, the same company as last year, will offer the rides at this year’s event. The plans call for a 30-ride carnival with midway, as well as a petting zoo, pony and camel rides, a mechanical bull and stage shows.

“It’s going to be a normal, old-fashioned county fair, with all the carnival rides, the games, the concessions, the entertainment, the petting zoo – all those things will be there,” Chambliss said. “But what will be missing this year is the competition for farm animals, the livestock competition and the field-crop type competition. But that is not over forever.”

Under Bullard’s leadership, the agricultural facet of the fair is expected to return, Chambliss said.

“We’ll bring that all back for the 2012 event, and the 2012 event will be a larger (fair),” Chambliss said.