Bigger and better – this year the N.C. State Fair is delivering on that promise. Fairgoers will see the fair’s newest addition, the State Fair SkyGazer, as they approach the fairgrounds – as it stands more than 60 feet taller than Dorton Arena. The SkyGazer is North America’s largest traveling Ferris wheel.
“North Carolinians who visit the State Fair every year have their traditions, but we never stop trying to “wow” you. We’ve been working to bring this Ferris wheel to Raleigh since it debuted in Florida in 2017,” said Agriculture Commissioner Steve Troxler. “ It’s not often we get a ride that will change the landscape of the fairgrounds. It will build excitement from a distance and is something fairgoers aren’t going to want to miss. I can’t wait to see the view from the top. It promises to be spectacular.”
At 155 feet tall, or about 15 stories high, the new Ferris wheel towers 62 feet over Dorton Arena and will sit between the historic arena and Hillsborough Street with a panoramic view of over 15 miles. The skylines of Raleigh, Durham, Chapel Hill and surrounding areas will provide a view most North Carolinians don’t have the opportunity to see regularly.
“The best thing about the wheel is what it looks like at night,” said Michael Wood, one of the Big Wheel’s owners. This Ferris wheel has been at the Oklahoma, Minnesota ,Wisconsin and Florida state fairs. This is the first time the wheel has been in North Carolina.
“What I love about a Ferris Wheel is that is can be enjoyed by all ages. It’s a ride that the grandparents, the parents, grandchildren, even great-grandchildren can ride together,” said Wood.
Manufactured in the Netherlands by Lamberink, the wheel is assembled with an 80-ton crane from 500 pieces in 800 man hours. A total of 36 enclosed six-person gondolas will hold 216 fairgoers at a time for the 10-minute ride. The giant wheel boasts 524,000 individual LED lights, six miles of electrical wiring and weighs 400,000 pounds.
SkyGazer tickets can be purchased in advance for $6 (tickets are $7 at the fair). Ride tickets and wristbands are not accepted on the SkyGazer. Advance tickets for the SkyGazer can be purchased online through Oct. 17 and at the following retail locations from Oct. 3 through Oct. 17.
- Gate 9 (Trinity Road), N.C. State Fairgrounds, 9 a.m. to 6 p.m.
- Lobby Area, N.C. Museum of History, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. (Monday through Friday)
- Ticket booth located between the Farmers Building and Market Shoppes,State Farmers Market, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Purchase a State Fair SkyGazer package that includes a gate admission ticket and one SkyGazer ticket for $14. This package is only available online in advance of the Fair and must be purchased by 11:59 p.m. on Thursday, Oct. 17.
The N.C. State Fair runs Oct. 17 through the 27.