Most folks know me as Brian Long, but when it comes to the State Fair blog, I'm Flying Bob. Why Flying Bob? It's one of my favorite carnival rides. Plus, once the fair kicks off, I feel like I'm flying in circles at high speed. (All that's missing is a ride attendant shouting, "Do you wanna go fasterrrrr!") Here at the State Fair Press Office, it's our job to give you as much information about this massive event as possible. That's one of the reasons I enjoy contributing to this blog. I hope you'll enjoy reading it.

Loopin’ and stringin’

For the past three years, a new tradition has been taking root at the State Fair. It’s called Tobacco Heritage Day, and it’s on the first Friday of the Fair. On this day, the public is invited to help fill the old log barn in Heritage Circle with tobacco grown at the Oxford Tobacco Research Station. Tobacco is tied to tobacco sticks, then hung in the barn. Depending on where you’re from in North Carolina, the process of tying the tobacco is called looping or stringing. Once the barn is loaded, a wood fire cures it for about a week….

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Stick ’em

The N.C. State Fair has arguably the largest midway in North America. And each of the 100-plus rides on the midway undergoes a rigorous inspection by the N.C. Department of Labor before the first rider steps on. Bureau Chief Jonathan Brooks and his crew of 24 inspectors have been working diligently to inspect each ride to make sure it is 100 percent in line with the manufacturer’s specifications. If it doesn’t pass muster, it doesn’t “get stuck.” That’s industry lingo for the sticker that certifies a ride has passed inspection. North Carolina’s standards for ride safety are among the strictest…

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Listen (or watch) and win

There are several ways to get your admission, ride and concert tickets for the 2008 State Fair. You can buy them online or at our nine walk-up locations. You can also win them. Numerous radio and TV stations are giving away State Fair prize packs consisting of admission tickets, ride sheets and T-shirts (several are throwing in concert tickets, too). There are some interesting contests, so check out the individual media outlets below for details on how to win one of these prize packs. In the Raleigh area, you can listen to G105, 93.9 Kiss-FM, The Rooster 106.1, 100.7 The…

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On Oct. 4, stencil for a good cause

If you aren’t busy on Saturday, Oct. 4, the State Fair and the N.C. Division of Water Quality have a project for you. Here are the details from a DWQ press release: RALEIGH – Dozens of volunteers will gather to stencil water protection messages and brightly colored fish on storm drains located throughout the N.C. State Fairgrounds on Saturday, Oct. 4. The event is being organized by the Department of Environment and Natural Resources, Division of Water Quality, in partnership with the N.C. Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services. Stormwater runoff is the number one cause of water pollution in…

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Good weather = good crowd

You could say those of us who work in the State Fair Press Office are obsessed with attendance. Every morning during the fair, we eagerly await word of the previous day’s crowd. We’re interested in this information for various reasons: 1) we know the news media will be asking for it, and 2) our boss, Ag Commissioner Steve Troxler, talks every year about wanting a million people to visit the fair, and we want to see how close — or far — we are to that milestone. But the real reason we want these numbers is because, every night before…

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Hyping the fair, part 2: The commercials

One of the surest signs that the 2008 State Fair is rapidly approaching is the completion of the TV commercials. As reported here in July, this year’s spots use still photography and animation to depict people having fun at the fair. They also feature an advertising technique we haven’t used in several years — a jingle. Produced by MSA, one spot focuses on a family (see it above), while the other shows co-workers heading for the fair after a day at the office. Each spot will carry “tags”at the end promoting additional fair topics, such as advance tickets, park-and-ride opportunities…

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Hyping the fair, part 1: Choosing a theme

We do a number of interviews before the State Fair begins, and a frequent question is “How did you choose the theme?” If I had taken more — um, I mean any — marketing classes in college, I would be able to give some pithy answer about analyzing market research to find exactly the right words and phrases that would resonate with the public and persuade them to drop everything and come to the fair. That’s all well and good, but market research doesn’t always meet with success. Can you say “New Coke“? So at State Fair Theme HQ, we…

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State Fair takes a walk with dinosaurs

The State Fair is going prehistoric … sort of. Today, RBC Center officials held a press conference to announce the upcoming “Walking with Dinosaurs — The Live Experience,” which will take place Oct. 22-26. The State Fair and the folks at the RBC Center are partnering on a promotion, and it means a good deal for people interested in both dinosaurs and the fair. Anybody who buys a ticket to “WWD” will get free admission to the fair (for info on “WWD” tickets, go to http://www.rbccenter.com/). Here’s a description of the show from the “WWD” press kit: A team of…

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Coming to a TV near you

Production of the State Fair’s TV commercials has begun. MSA, the advertising agency for the fair, proposed an interesting concept marrying still photography with animation. I would characterize the approach as the State Fair meets “South Park” (but without the profanity). Above is a glimpse of the photo shoot that took place July 16 at MSA’s studios. The actors were shot using a wide-angle lens, and their heads will be put on animated bodies in the commercials. Look for the finished ads on the air beginning in September, about a month before the fair opens.

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