Like most children, young Wesley Wyatt didn’t dream of becoming the State Fair manager, but now there’s no job he’d rather have.
Wyatt was born in Greensboro, lived in Burlington until he was 13, and since then has called Raleigh home. He earned an associate’s degree in applied agriculture from N.C. State University and a Bachelor of Science degree in business administration from UNC-Chapel Hill. His career with the State Fair began in 1973, when he was still in high school. Back then, he worked in the landscape crew, helped with horse shows, set up buildings for events and cleaned up after them. In the years since, he has worked his way up to hold many positions, and was promoted to State Fair manager in 1997.
Wyatt’s responsibility as fair manager is to help direct the overall operation of the fairgrounds, both during the annual fair in October as well as the year-round operation. The variety of events held at the fairgrounds, the people that he works with, and the people that come and use the fairgrounds’ facilities are a few of the many things he loves about his job. During his years at the fairgrounds, he has seen visits from three U.S. presidents (Gerald Ford, George H.W. Bush, Bill Clinton) and one future president (Barack Obama) and their Secret Service details.
Wyatt’s devotion to improving the fairgrounds and making the space better for everyone who visits can be seen in the addition of two buildings — the Exposition Center and the Gov. James G. Martin Building — and the improvements that occurred in the area around Dorton Arena. New seating, electrical, water and sanitary sewer were installed, which was good for concessionaires in the area. The next big thing that he would like to see for the fair is the addition of a new expo building to add more exhibit and building space.
Like most North Carolinians, Wyatt has his favorite things about the State Fair. “I like all the agricultural exhibits, the animals, craft items, flowers, and all the things entered competitively,” he said. And, of course, he also loves the food, particularly the N.C. State ice cream and how the proceeds go to food and science department scholarships.
When he’s not working to make the fair the best it can be, the father of three loves to travel. In the U.S., his favorite places to visit are national parks, with Yellowstone and Zion National Park at the top of his list. In fact, if he wasn’t fair manager, he would enjoy working at a national park. Outside of the country, he enjoys visiting Ireland and Paris.