At 1:14 p.m. Saturday, about 60 people stood in line outside the State Fair Flyer waiting for their turn to travel over the midway.
“I need a rest,” said Julie Perkins, 37, of Rocky Mount.
After walking around the fair in flip flops and consuming a giant turkey leg, Perkins was ready to sit down in one of the yellow, blue, orange and green chairs lifting people up to 40 feet over the midway. The State Fair Flyer, which debuted at the State Fair this year, travels just more than a quarter of a mile one way, moving people from a section near the Grist Mill and Village of Yesteryear to the end of Restaurant Row.
The line looked long but moved fast. It took about five minutes before Laura Rowe, 34, and Scott Kreft, 38, who were just behind Perkins, were told by a worker to stand in a yellow box and pull the lap bar down when they sit.
When they were lifted from Restaurant Row and headed toward the Grist Mill, they traveled through various fair smells, sounds and sights. On the right, music, screams and sirens sounded as they passed swings that floated up in the air, a mini-roller coaster clanking about and the Speed ride spinning passengers around either end of a circling 120-foot arm.
To the left vehicles growled and sputtered pulling tractors in front of the grandstands.
And just below, people played games, ducked into fun houses and walked about with food and prizes.
“It was neat,” said Rowe of Holly Springs. “It’s peaceful because you are not in the crowd.”
A one-way ticket costs $5. A round-trip ticket is $8 and doesn’t have to be used all at once. Ride tickets can’t be used to get on the State Fair Flyer. Tickets can be bought at booths near both ride entrances or online. The ride generally takes seven minutes each way and moves along at 2 miles per hour with some intermittent pauses. The chairs will carry two adults comfortably, or two adults and a small child. The ride will remain after the State Fair closes, but will only be available at some Fairground events, such as Got To Be NC agricultural festival in the spring.
Some fair visitors jumped on the Fair Flyer first thing to scope out their ride and eating adventures. Some wanted to take photos, people watch and take in the view of the expansive fair. And others just wanted a break from the crowd, walking or watching their kids on the roller coasters.
“When you’re 55, it’s better than your dogs barking,” said Norman Holland of Wilson, who has attended the fair every year but one since 1979. “I think it is great. I wish they had it all the way around” the entire fair.
Roy Dodson liked the ride, in part, because it helped him peruse the food options and decide what he wants to eat and where he can find it.
“The Philly cheesesteak,” said Dodson, 72, of Blacksburg, Virginia.
Nathan Hubbard, 9, of Raleigh described his sky lift experience as taking the scenic route, but his 12-year-old sister Allie wasn’t so sure.
“I didn’t like being that high,” she said.
Tara Johnson, 41, and Shanel Lewis, 36, both of Havelock, said after taking the kids on rides all morning, it was nice for them to catch a chair and enjoy their own experience. Johnson said the experience would be her one and only ride.
“This was enough for me,” she said.
Today at the fair
Hours: Gates, 8 a.m.-11 p.m. Midway, 10 a.m.-11 p.m. Exhibit halls, 9 a.m. to 9:45 p.m.
Tickets: Adults (13-64), $10; children (6-12), $5; military with ID, $6; children 5 and younger and adults 65 and older, free.
Dorton Arena concert: Chris Lane with Kasey Tyndall, 7:30 p.m., free.
Forecast: Sunny, 70s.
Sunday’s attendance last year: 97,906