Through Saturday, more than 912 thousand people attended this yearâ€™s fair. The final count will be available this week, but many are optimistic about the potential for record-high turnouts.
â€œIf we have a good strong weekend, we could get to one million this year,â€ said Brian Long, spokesperson for the N.C. Department of Agriculture & Consumer Services.
This would be the third time in the fairâ€™s history where attendance was more than one million, Long said.
â€œItâ€™s setting up to be a good closing weekend. Whether we get to that million mark, weâ€™ll just have to see, but we have reason to be hopeful,â€ he said
As the state fair is an enterprise fund â€” meaning it is not funded by the state government â€” Long said gate admission is a large source of revenue.
â€œIn addition to that, the payment the fair receives from the carnival company is based on what the paid attendance is,â€ he said.
These two major sources of revenue help pay for upkeep and improvements of the fairgrounds year-round.
But to draw people to the fair, something has to pique their interest.
â€œWe always have to strike a balance,â€ Long said.
â€œVendors are creative, and they bring in new items each year, but we also know that a lot of fairgoers come to the fair because they want that tradition of getting that candy apple, or that corn dog, or that funnel cake.â€
He said they try to keep a broad spectrum of foods each year â€” food vendors are able to experiment the most with their products.
â€œThere are foods that theyâ€™ll try one year, and if they donâ€™t catch on after about two years, theyâ€™ll do something different,â€ he said.
Some vendors entice customers with more creative items. Stephanie Walker of the 1853 Grill said in their 15 years at the fair, people come to their shop for the deep-fried foods.
â€œThe newest thing is the â€˜Fry Me Over the Moon Pie,â€™â€ she said.
â€œItâ€™s a moon pie cut in half with three Oreos, a cupcake cut in half and a Reeseâ€™s cup all put together and then we deep-fry it.â€
Walker said itâ€™s had a great response from the public so far.
1853 Grill also boasted fair favorites like deep-fried Oreos and funnel cakes.
But other vendors keep their menu more traditional.
Steve Smith, owner of Smittyâ€™s Apples, has had the same menu items for 20 years. He said his apple dumplings have been his most popular item, and he doesnâ€™t really understand the trend towards deep-fried foods.
â€œIts full of vitamin G â€” grease,â€ he said.