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North Carolina State Fair underway
Powers and Wade feature 110 rides on the midway


By Joe Burum

Photo courtesy of Joe Burum

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Saturday, October 17 was a cool and cloudy day at the North Carolina State Fair, but despite the weather, the gates, aisles and midways were crowded with people for the first weekend of the 2009 event. Manager Wesley Wyatt was optimistic about the fair's 11-day run as crowds continued to stream in. Rain stayed away and it looked like everyone but the slushy-sellers might have a good weekend.

Wyatt discussed many facets of his event, not just the weather. He was proud to point out that in the third year of the Fair's Going Green initiative they were more proactive than ever about reducing their carbon footprint. In addition to the very functional recycling containers around the grounds, the fair also featured art made of recycled trashed or repurposed items to call attention to the recycling efforts.

Wyatt was also Photo By Joe Burumpleased with the operation of a new entry ticket booth at Gate 9. The new layout helped speed admissions and led guests right on to a midway thoroughfare as well. Also rolled out this year was Phase I of the RV Camprground Project. Wyatt noted that this year's rollout was more of a research and development effort as only security officers were using the space in 2009. If budgets allowed, he expected the camping facility to be in use by others for 2010. Other infrastructure improvements for the year included the less glamorous, but greatly appreciated addition of eighteen light poles and new sewer lines.

Wyatt noted that advance ticket sales were especially helpful this year. The fair featured a number of initiatives including Internet coupons that could be home-printed and redeemed at special tents, manufactured by Waterloo, on the grounds. The promotions included an offer to buy multiple passes and get additional passes free.

Wyatt was pleased with the ride layout, provided by Corky Power's Great American Midways with Frank Zaitshik's Wade Shows. Headliners included the Vertigo, the Wisdom Dragstrip Mega Slide, Swing Buggy and the Kiddie Chopper Hopper.

Letrice Vines, Commercial Space Administrator noted with pride that the turnover rate among commercial vendors at the fair is less than 5% annually. However, she is always on the lookout for new, different, unique items to keep things fresh. Among those that Letrice booked for the first time this year were Chocolate Covered bacon, Oxtails, Alligator, Deep Fried Corn and revived interest in Chitlins', Chicken Livers and Gizzards. Some of the more unique items generated plenty of media buzz.

On the midway, Corky Powers could be found working out of his recently delivered 57-foot SpaceCraft office. The office features six slide outs and generous space for an entire management crew. The outside is undecorated, as Powers prefers to keep things low key around the office, but inside, the trailer is stunning. Debbie Powers did the decorating and the unit is as beautiful as it is functional. It includes a 20KW generator, Wi-Fi throughout and all the amenities a modern office worker could ask for. Debbie Powers was not available to give the tour personally as she was up to her elbows in Fried Dough in one of her units, sporting the seasons must-have accessory for hair -- cotton candy tufts!

Powers used the occasion of our visit to announce that he is converting two of his major rides to LED-powered lighting in the off-season. Len Soled of Rides 4 U is handling the conversion and will be working not only on the Powers Wheel, but also on their Wave Swinger. The Wheel conversion will be unique among those recently getting the LED conversion, as the light package will include the base, center and towers. Powers is also doing a complete mechanical refurbishment of the wheel in advance of the LED installation.

Frank Zaitshik had his main unit along with additional rides on the grounds. Staff members included son Gary, Mike Thomas, Jim Danton, and Corky Quimby helping to run the operation. Cynnimin Danton was operating her food court for Zaitshik with the centerpiece being as big a turkey-leg grill as I have ever seen. Zaitshik was justifiably proud of his and Power's production, noting that they were well ahead of the required ride count and had almost twenty additional pieces at the event. The total ride count was in excess of 110 pieces.

The North Carolina State Fair runs through October 25th.

2009 NC State Fair Photos:

Fair Manager Wesley Wyatt
Fair Manager Wesley Wyatt and Letrice

Corky Powers
Powers Great American Midways, owner, Corky Powers

Debbie Powers
Corky Powers' Wife, Debbie Powers

Powers Office
Power's Great American Midways Office

Cynnimin Dantons Turkey Leg Operation
Cynnimin Danton's Turkey Leg Operation

New Crazy Copters
Power's New Crazy Copters Ride

More Photos are Available in the Photo Gallery! Click here and then click on the "NC State Fair" photo gallery to view more!

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