RALEIGH, N.C. (WNCN) — An event to bring fair food to Raleigh after the North Carolina State Fair was canceled by the COVID-19 pandemic brought out hundreds of people Sunday in close quarters, but with most wearing masks or face coverings.
The event, scheduled daily until Oct. 25, is different from previous fair food offerings at the State Fairgrounds.
In previous fair food events since the pandemic began, people have had to wait in cars at the fairgrounds and food was brought to them.
However, the event Sunday, which features 22 vendors, was operated much like the fair itself with people allowed to wander a midway area in the fairgrounds among the various vendors.
A news release from the N.C. State Fair about the event said, “There will be no gathering allowed. Social distancing and face coverings are required.”
However, Sunday CBS 17 crews saw hundreds of people — most wearing masks — in an area that appeared as busy as a regular day during the state fair.
There also appeared to be little social distancing with the area swarming with people. While most people were wearing masks, some took off their masks to eat or drink.
The event is scheduled from 10 a.m. to 8:30 p.m. each day until Saturday.
State Fair officials released a statement about Sunday’s event:
It’s been a beautiful weekend. It would have been the best State Fair weather. With that, there are many people ready to get out of the house and move around. The State Fairgrounds has provided extra space for social distancing between food booths, we have placed additional handwashing stations in the area and vendors are providing hand sanitizer near their points of sale. This is a take home event and we continue to encourage attendees to take their food home with them after it is purchased, wear their masks and maintain adequate distancing from others.
We really don’t have a way to estimate how many people have visited. From what we have observed, the turnover has been consistently quick throughout the day, which leads us to believe attendees are being vigilant about taking their food to go.
As an outdoor event in a space as large as the Fairgrounds, we do not see reaching a capacity where social distancing can not be maintained.
Reaction among people at the event differed.
“It’s definitely mixed. All the vendors were wearing masks but there was a mixed crowd of people wearing masks versus not wearing masks,” said Michelle Vanvklayder of Raleigh.
Some thought the fair food event was not a problem.
“If you’re wearing your mask and you’re with the people you came with and kind of keeping your distance, I think we’ll be OK. It’s a tough time, but you can’t stop living either but you got to be safe. You really got to be safe,” said Kenneth Everett of Zebulon.
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