Donkeys and elephants and Ford…oh my

Last week, Democratic officials announced Charlotte would host the 2012 Democratic National Convention. In choosing Charlotte, the nominating committee realized something that most of us already knew – North Carolina is a great place. From the people to the food, we’ve got it going on. That’s part of the reason why national politicians have been making rounds through North Carolina for a long time.

We’re happy for Charlotte, but the N.C. State Fair also has seen its fair share, (pardon the pun) of the national political spotlight through the years. In fact, four U.S. presidents have swung through Raleigh during the Fair, and two more have stopped by the fairgrounds at other times during the year.

Theodore Roosevelt was the first president to come to the State Fair in 1905. At that time, the fairgrounds were still located on Hillsborough Street across from N.C. State University. Roosevelt and others marched in a parade from the Capitol Building to the fairgrounds, where he addressed a crowd of more than 25,000 people.

Former President Harry S. Truman campaigns for John F. Kennedy at Dorton Arena during the 1960 N.C. State Fair.

In 1948, Harry S. Truman visited the State Fair while running for a second term. More than 75,000 people gathered outside the Commercial and Education Buildings to hear from the president. When he returned in 1960 to campaign for John F. Kennedy, he spoke in Dorton Arena, which had been completed in 1953.

Dorton Arena also was the site of Gerald Ford’s visit to the N.C. State Fair. He visited Raleigh in 1976 while campaigning against Jimmy Carter. In 1992, George H.W. Bush came to the State Fair as an incumbent running for reelection. He followed in the footsteps of Truman’s 1948 visit and addressed a crowd of 17,000 people outside the Commercial and Education Buildings.

President George H.W. Bush campaigned at the N.C. State Fair in 1992.

Two other presidents have visited the fairgrounds, but not during the Fair. Bill Clinton visited the state in 1996 to survey the devastation following Hurricane Fran. At the time, relief workers were stationed at the fairgrounds, and Clinton used the location to hold a press conference. He returned in 1998 to campaign on behalf of John Edwards during his U.S. Senate campaign. Ten years later, Barack Obama came to the fairgrounds several times to campaign in the 2008 primaries.

We’ve hosted several presidents over the past century, and look forward to seeing more in the future. And, while we may not be hosting the Democratic National Convention in 2012, we feel fortunate that we get to host one of the largest events held in North Carolina every year.

About Bearded Lady

Paul Jones blogged for the 2009-2012 N.C. State Fairs. Here's his bio from 2009: Paul Jones, here (a.k.a. Bearded Lady). I love the N.C. State Fair. I love the rides, I love the food, but my favorite part of the Fair is the displays of the unusual. The two-headed snake, the world’s smallest woman, the world’s tallest horse and the list goes on. Originally from South Carolina, I hope that I can bring a different perspective to this blog as I shed light on some of the ordinary, yet extraordinary, aspects of this year’s Fair.

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