Along with a hint of winter, today's chilly breeze will carry a whiff of one of Raleigh's grandest deep-fried traditions.
The N.C. State Fair opens at 3 p.m. today. And if recent years provide any insight, officials can expect more than 800,000 people to stroll through the gates to enjoy exhibits, competition, games, rides and a variety of culinary delights before the festivities end Oct. 25.
All those people also mean congested roadways in West Raleigh.
If you want to reduce your carbon footprint, are allergic to traffic snarls or don't relish paying $10 to park your car in a stranger's yard, take the bus or ride the train to the fair.
Still feel like driving? Free parking is available if you know where to look.
Limited free parking is available on fairgrounds property. Much more is available in the lots adjacent to Carter-Finley Stadium and the RBC Center. Fair officials encourage drivers to take Wade Avenue to Edwards Mill Extension to park in any of these lots.
Drivers are discouraged from parking along Wade Avenue. This year, both Wade and Edwards Mill Road are designated as tow-away zones. Cars also will be towed from Youth Center Road.
Disabled parking: There is a paved lot designated for handicapped parking on the northeast corner of the fairgrounds, between Trinity and Blue Ridge roads. Vehicles without the appropriate tags or license plates will be towed.
From Durham: Durham Area Transit Authority will operate shuttles from its downtown Durham station, 515 W. Pettigrew St., on the hour from 10 a.m. to 11 p.m. each day, except Sundays when service will run from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. Regular fare is $2 round-trip.
The TRANSPASS and Go Pass agreements do not include State Fair service, but a discounted round-trip fare of $1 is available for riders with a DATA ID or Medicare card. Senior citizens ages 65 and older, and children ages 12 and younger and less than 60 inches tall ride free. DATA will drop off and pick up at gate 10.
From Chapel Hill: Triangle Transit will offer bus service on Saturdays (Oct. 17 and 24) and Sundays (Oct. 18 and 25) from the park-and-ride lot on Eubanks Road in northern Chapel Hill, one-half mile west of Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard.
On Saturdays, buses will depart on the hour between 9 a.m. and 7 p.m. and return on the hour between noon and 10 p.m. On Sundays, they will depart on the hour between 11 a.m. and 4 p.m. and return on the hour between noon and 6 p.m.
From RTP: Triangle Transit will offer bus service on Saturdays (Oct. 17 and 24) and Sundays (Oct. 18 and 25) from its regional transit center, 901 Slater Road, Durham. The center is located one-half mile south of the Page Road exit off Interstate 40, near the Sheraton Imperial Hotel. On Saturdays, these shuttles will depart 30 minutes past the hour between 9:30 a.m. and 7:30 p.m. Buses will return from the fairgrounds on the hour between noon and 10 p.m. On Sundays, these shuttles will depart the transit center 30 minutes past the hour between 11:30 a.m. and 4:30 p.m. They will return from the fair on the hour between noon and 6 p.m.
Triangle Transit fares will be $5 round-trip for riders 12 and over. Round-trip fares for those with disabilities will be $2.50. Riders will be picked up and dropped off in front of Carter-Finley Stadium on State Farm Drive, across the street from the Wolfline stop.
Call 485-RIDE (7433) for more info.
Take the train
Amtrak is scheduled to leave Charlotte at 7:40 a.m. each morning, arriving at a temporary rail stop across the street from the fairgrounds about 10:50 a.m. The train departs at 4:57 p.m. and arrives in Charlotte about 8:24 p.m. The train stops in downtown Raleigh, Cary, Durham, Burlington, Greensboro, High Point, Salisbury, and Kannapolis. See www.amtrak.com for more information.