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Rowan County fair gets under way today

By Shavonne Potts
Workers labored well into the evening Sunday setting up rides, games and food booths for the 57th Rowan County Agricultural and Industrial Fair. The fair gets underway today and goes through Saturday.
Operators say the fair features 30 rides, seven of them new this year. One new ride thrill seekers should look for, they say, is the Vortex. It sends riders about 100 feet in the air at 60 mph.
Made by the Fabbri Group, an amusement ride manufacturer based in Italy, the Vortex is the only amusement ride in the U.S. that has a light show of its type. Each LED light is computer programmed.
“Each bulb is $40. Each one has to be individually computer programmed because of the light show,” said Charlie Belknap, public relations and marketing director for Powers Great American Midways.
Belknap said many of the newer rides and vendors use LED lights, which burn less electricity. That’s one way the company is making its midways more environmentally friendly, he said.
This marks the 15th year that Powers Great American has provided rides, shows, games and food ó along with local food vendors ó for the fair.
New attractions this year include the Wild West Follies, Tigers and Elephants Encounters, Demolition Derby and wrestling.
Powers Great American prides itself on being a traveling amusement park rather than a carnival, Belknap said, and as such, the company “tries to make it a family affair.”
To appeal to families, the company has removed some of its kiddie rides and replaced them with others parents and children can ride together.
For a break from the rides, the fair offers about 55 interior vendors made up of local businesses and organizations. There are 26 local food vendors outside and six nonprofit civic clubs that have booths, said exhibits manager Don Kiker.
Kiker said the planning has taken about a month and a half.
He said the volunteers officially took over the property Sept. 3 and have since been preparing for the fair.
Vendors began setting up around 9 a.m. Sunday. The work was provided by volunteers, especially those with the Jaycees of Faith and Spencer. And it’s for a good cause, Kiker said.
“All the profits go to local charities and needy families,” he said.
Besides the rides, animals are a big draw at the fair. There will be goat, beef cattle, lamb and dairy cattle shows throughout the week. Check at the fairgrounds for specific showtimes.
The food will include fair favorites such as funnel cakes, ice cream and cotton candy.
Powers Great American just closed out the Cabarrus County fair around midnight Saturday.
Powers is based out of New York, and most of its employees are from New York, North Carolina and along the East Coast. The company refurbishes and repairs its rides in North Carolina.
The summer months are busy, Belknap said, while the winter months are used to repair rides.
The next stop is Goldsboro for the Wayne Regional Agricultural Fair.
This year’s theme for the Rowan County fair is “A Harvest of Discovery.”
Gates open at 4 p.m. today and rides open at 5 p.m.

Gates at the Rowan County Fair open today at 4 p.m.
Adult ticket prices are $7, but with two cans of food for Rowan Helping Ministries, adult admission is just $6 tonight only.
Special wristbands for unlimited rides are $15 today and $20 the rest of the week.
Senior citizens pay $3 admission. Public school days are Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday.
The Demolition Derby is Friday at 8 p.m. The Powder Puff Derby is 6 p.m. Saturday, and the 105-inch Wheelbase Derby is at 8 p.m. Saturday.


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