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Photos: After COVID hiatus, the North Carolina State Fair is back

 Near the end of the state fair's opening night, a colorful cotton candy vendor stands alone.
Near the end of the state fair's opening night, a colorful cotton candy vendor stands alone.

Turkey legs hover over smokers, Oreos are plunged into vats of oil, and kids whirl around on classic rides.

After a hiatus in 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the North Carolina State Fair is back on in Raleigh.

Opening night — which coincided with the season-opener for the Carolina Hurricanes hockey team, creating a traffic frenzy — was Oct. 14. The first-night crowd was modest, but lines for food that can only be had at fairs, like caramel apples and overstuffed steak sandwiches, ran long with hungry attendees. Some wore masks and some didn't; the fair isn't mandating them. The festivities will run through Oct. 24.

WUNC went out to the fair on opening night and captured the atmosphere in photos.

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Near the beginning of the night, a game vendor makes sure he's stocked up on toys for eager kids that might show up.

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A woman and a man ride across the night sky in Raleigh on The State Fair Flyer.

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The Ferris wheel remains a popular and bright attraction at the state fair.

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Two ponies take breaks between giving rides to children at the state fair.

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Six-year-old Jax Brady takes a ride down the slide. With a short line, this was one of many trips he took.

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One fairgoer happily marches away after acquiring a roasted corn on the cob.

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A young girl eagerly awaits the giant frosted blue donut she's ordered.

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A cook stands over his collection of simmering sausages.

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Chocolate and peanut butter, battered, deep fried and covered in powdered sugar. What could be better?

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A state fair staple: turkey legs, smoked low and slow.

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One young woman tries her luck at the pop-a-shot.

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A vendor drowns a funnel cake in powdered sugar.

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Competitors in the water gun race await for a winner to be crowned.

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Fried, bite-size curds from the Hot Wisconsin Cheese stand were a popular snack.

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Things wind down near the end of the night at Smitty's Apples.

Copyright 2021 North Carolina Public Radio

Mitchell Northam