Workers were assembling the rides for this year's N.C. State Fair on Monday, but one of them was already up and ready to go.
The State Fair Flyer, the new sky ride at the fair, will be a permanent fixture on the fairgrounds for at least a decade and likely beyond. The state Department of Labor inspected the ride and certified it for use on Oct. 3; on Monday, Labor Commissioner Cherie Berry and other visitors to the State Fairgrounds got an early ride.
The State Fair Flyer carries people 1,400 feet from one end of the midway to the other, at the leisurely pace of about 2 mph. It runs between near Gate 8, the busiest during the fair, and the east end of Restaurant Row, giving people not only a great view of the midway from above but also a way to bypass crowded walkways.
The ride looks like a ski lift without the mountain. It was made by Partek Enterprises, a company in the small southern New York town of Pine Island that specializes in ski lifts. The chairs were assembled and hung by Ropeway, another Pine Island company.
In a house on steel legs at the Restaurant Row end of the ride is the giant motor that moves the 2,800-foot cable that carries 127 chairs in a continuous loop. Once it starts up, the ride doesn’t stop, and attendants are on hand at each end to help people get on and off, said Robert Fulton of American Sky Lifts of Sanford, the company that owns and operates the State Fair Flyer. A one-way ride takes about 7 or 8 minutes.
American Sky Lifts was one of three companies that bid on the chance to lease the land at the fairgrounds and build the ride. The company will give the state 32 percent of gross ticket revenue from the ride. Advance tickets are on sale now at the State Fair website, www.ncstatefair.org, for $4 one way, $7 round trip. (Prices will go up $1 each at fair time.)
The chairs will carry two adults comfortably, or two adults and a small child (you must be 42 inches, or 3.5 feet, tall to ride without an adult). There’s a weight limit of about 340 pounds, so ride attendants will be making judgment calls.