accessABILITY Day returns to the N.C. State Fair on Sunday, Oct. 16. The special day, which is presented by Bandwidth, lasts from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Sunday. It’s an effort to make the fair more welcoming and inclusive for all North Carolinians regardless of ability.
Many elements of the fair will be changed to be less stimulating, less distracting and generally calmer during the four hours. Kate Conner, who is a Bandwidth employee, is an advocate for accessibility and inclusiveness everywhere because her daughter is blind. So she’s a particularly big fan of accessABILITY DAY.
“One of the things I talk about with people about raising a child with a disability or having people we love with a disability is that we are pursuing equal joy. Right?” Conner said during a recent interview on CBS-17’s My Carolina show. “My daughter is never going to experience the fair the same way I will, and that’s not really the point. The point is that there’s something there for her, and there’s something there for me, and anybody in the state of North Carolina can come to the fair and there’s something there for them, and they can have equal joy.”
As part of the day, rides and games will operate with no lights or music playing, and vendors will have lights and music turned off at their booths also. Music stages will only play acoustic sets with light amplification. The public address system will only be used for lost visitor announcements.
In addition, a “Bandwidth Chill Out Zone” will be available to guests in the Graham Building. It will have tables and chairs, low lighting and soft music playing for those who need to take a break from the busy atmosphere outside. Noise cancelling headphones will be available to check out in the “Bandwidth Chill Out Zone” for those who need them. There will also be specially designed games for guests. They can compete in the inclusive and/or adaptive “on the spot” competitions.
Conner mentioned that because of her daughter, her family knows many people with other disabilities. So accessABILITY Day is something they all appreciate.
“So some of the people that we love the most are people that have mobility challenges and sensory issues and vision loss or hearing loss. And so stuff like this is really, really meaningful to us. We feel it very personally,” Conner told the hosts of My Carolina.
She added that the adapted day has made a real difference for many families. She shared a little bit of the feedback she heard after the first accessABILITY Day at the 2021 N.C. State Fair.
“A couple of things stick out. One is we had a mom that came up to us and said, ‘this is the first year that I’ve ever been able to take my son to the fair.,’ and he was having a great time. He was playing and kicking around these big giant inflatable balls that we had. I think just the sheer volume, the number of people that came up to us that day and then the following week and said ‘this was a game changer. This was a game changer for our family.’”
accessABILITY Day is also a good time to remind fairgoers that there are adult changing stations in a few family restrooms across the fairgrounds, and they are available year-round.
Guidebooks for accessABILITY Day are available to download online on NCStateFair.org. They can also be picked up from guest services on Oct. 16. The guidebooks highlight all the inclusive activities and amenities the Fair offers.
To watch the entire interview on My Carolina, checkout the post on CBS17.com/MyCarolina.