With the state fair comes flu concern

RALEIGH Workers are already setting up for the big event in Raleigh.

The anticipation is building throughout the state, but some families are staying away this year. Not because of the crowds, but because of the swine flu.

The fair is a ritual for hundreds of thousands of people and fair officials are asking people to stay home if they're sick, but some may stay home to avoid getting sick.

"We usually go to the fair, but this year because of the H1N1 flu virus, we decided it would be best to stay at home, because we're not sure about the hand washing and the contamination," Cary resident Peggy Cheek said.

For the families that do attend, this year's most popular place at the fair may be the hand washing stations.

"You got your soap here, your paper towels here," said Brian Long with the Department of Agriculture.

He said officials are concerned about the swine flu with such a large crowd of people.

This year, they're urging fairgoers to wash their hands more frequently than ever.

"These types of units are stationed somewhere near animals are because if people are near the petting zoo or they're near some of the exhibits, you want them to be able to wash their hands afterward," Long said. "This year, the new wrinkle is, we're encouraging people to wash their hands before they come into contact with animals, as well as after because we don't want anybody passing germs onto the animals either."

But with all the hand washing stations some will still be on guard as best they can.

Officials said they've already sold more than $8,000 more in early tickets sales than last year, so the swine flu may not be enough to tear some away from their funnel cakes and fried candy bars.

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