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NC Fair attendance was fourth highest on record

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Jill Knight - jhknight@newsobserver.com
First Look: Staff photojournalist Jill Knights raw edits from the N.C. State fair Wednesday October 23, 2013 in Raleigh, N.C.

RALEIGH Despite sunny skies in the final weekend, attendance at the N.C. State Fair was lower than average for recent years.

Nearly 928,000 people visited the N.C. State Fair over its 11-day run, according to fair officials. That’s the fourth highest attendance on record but less than the average of 941,873 during the last five years. Sunday’s attendance was 98,221, just below last year’s mark and about 6,000 less than the five-year average.

State officials conceded that Thursday night’s accident on the midway that injured five riders may have caused some people not to attend over the weekend. The operator of the ride, Timothy Tutterrow of Quitman, Ga., has been accused of tampering with the ride’s safety equipment and was charged with three counts of assault with a deadly weapon inflicting serious bodily injury.

Weather tends to have the biggest impact on attendance, fair spokesman Brian Long said. The day with the lowest attendance compared to normal was the first Saturday, when a threat of showers kept people away, Long said.

“I do think that the ride accident Thursday night did have some impact on our weekend attendance, particularly Friday,” he said. “But I also think that Friday’s attendance was affected by the fact that it got pretty cold Friday night. For a Friday night, it was a pretty light crowd."

The record attendance at the fair was 1,091,887, in 2010. Last year’s attendance was 965,297, the third highest on record.

As rides at the fair were being disassembled, a worker was hurt at the State Fairgrounds early Monday while helping to with a midway ride, state officials said.

The man, 35, was helping take apart one of two Vortex rides, but not the one involved in Thursday’s accident.

State Fair officials said the man was taken to WakeMed in Raleigh with a leg injury. Officials did not release the man’s name or provide any other details.

The accident happened about 3:30 a.m.

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