Lake Norman & Mooresville

Cabarrus County Fair opens

The twinkling lights. The thrilled screams. The sticky candy apples.

The Cabarrus County Fair will make its annual run through Saturday.

Although today's fair-goers know the fair for its twirling rides and fried delicacies, the fair has a history tied to the county's agricultural roots that goes back as far as the 1800s.

Children's reactions to the lights and sounds are the same as they were on opening day in 1953, said Clarence Horton of Kannapolis, who was 13 when the fair opened.

"You still see their eyes light up," said Horton.

He remembers the rides - the first ferris wheel he'd probably ever seen, he said - and the games and food.

And as he got older, the fair became the popular place to go on dates.

There was just something magical about the fair, he said.

Up until eight years ago, the fair was planned and financed by an independent fair board.

But in 2002, the fair-became a county operation, becoming one of the few government-run fairs in the state.

That same year, the fair moved to its current location at the Cabarrus Arena and Events Center.

Former Concord Mayor Harold McEachern was in his 20s when the fair opened in 1953.

He attributes the county fair's success to community involvement from local people, businesses and churches.

"If you take the community out of the fair, all you've got is a carnival," he said.

The fair will always be a special place, he said.

"You can go to a movie any time you want, but you can only go the fair once a year."