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Fair well attended despite delayed start

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Ky'lee Wilkerson, 6, looks down as she rides the Dumbo ride at the Pitt County Fair, Saturday afternoon.

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By Tyler Stocks
The Daily Reflector

Monday, September 24, 2018

After a day’s delay due to Hurricane Florence, the Pitt County American Legion Agricultural Fair fared well by the end of its run, organizers said.

Hurricane Florence delayed vendors this year, including Powers Great American Amusements, the company that provides the rides and games for the fair.

“Because of Florence, we were a day late starting because our midway was in Concord,” said Phyllis Ross, fair executive and organizer. “They could not get here because of the weather and they started pulling in late Sunday.”

Other weather-related headaches included the multiple roads that were closed due to flooding, she said.

But Ross said she was happy with the turnout this year.

“All in all, the attendance has been great,” Ross said. “I know the weather kept some people away, and there are still some people who cannot get out. But (Saturday) was awesome. They were lined up. It was a very good night.” 

Crowds were smaller on Sunday, and the lines for the rides were short, but Ross said Sundays are usually slow.

“We're hoping with the weather being nice that people can come on out and enjoy it,” Ross said.

Although she didn't have figures for this year, Ross estimated the fair was attended by more than 38,000 people.

On the fair’s final day, families from all over eastern North Carolina came out to enjoy the festivities.

Jerry Gomez, who lives in Washington, brought his wife and children.

“Today, I'm just having fun with my kids and my baby,” he said. “I was in Greenville and just stopped by here.”

Anthony Davis, a first-timer who came from Belhaven, said the fair provided some enjoyable entertainment for his daughter.

“I Just brought the kids out to have a good time and enjoy the afternoon and honestly, my daughter enjoyed watching the goat show,” Davis said.

Putting on the fair for large crowds can be a daunting task, and Ross noted that the event is not county funded or organized. Instead, it is orchestrated by members from American Legion Post 39 in Greenville, Post 151 in Farmville and Post 289 in Ayden.

“Pitt County gives us nothing. We pay property taxes and we pay the sheriff's department,” Ross said. “We want the people to know that the fair is not owned by the county, even though we shorten it to Pitt County Fair. The county does not fund it in any way.”

Ross's husband, Kenneth, who also is one of the fair's organizers and a retired county commissioner, said the fair costs $250,000 per year to operate. Phyllis Ross said the proceeds from each year's fair pay for the next fair.

With this year's fair in the books, Phyllis and Kenneth Ross are planning for next year, which will mark the fair's 100th anniversary.

“We have a lot to do to prepare for the 100th anniversary and we'll be starting right after this fair shuts down to prepare for next year,” Phyllis Ross said.

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