Rocky Mount Fair Closes
(Rocky Mount, NC) – The Rocky Mount Fair will not operate in 2017. Norman Chambliss, III announced today that he had reached the decision to indefinitely suspend the operation of the annual fall event. For nearly 100 consecutive years, the Chambliss family has operated an agricultural fair in Rocky Mount. Norman Chambliss, Sr., grandfather of the current operator, came to Rocky Mount from Emporia, Virginia around 1920. Chambliss Sr. soon became involved in community activities including the local county fair. He enjoyed the fair business so much that it became his full-time passion and profession. He ultimately acquired the local fair and operated seven county fairs in eastern North Carolina. For a time he served as general manager of the North Carolina State Fair in Raleigh.
Norman Chambliss, III grew up working with his family in the fair business. “When I was about 6 years old, I began working at the fair. I would walk around with a bucket and hand the electrician light bulbs and tools” Chambliss recalls. “I have done every job on the fairgrounds. I took over the operation of the fair from my father in 1976. Last year’s fair was my 40th consecutive year running the fair.” Chambliss added. “It’s been a great experience. I have worked with some wonderful people and have great memories but it is just the right time for me to stop. 40 years is long enough.”
Chambliss recently notified the North Carolina Department of Agriculture that the Rocky Mount Fair will not operate this year. Kevin Hardison, County Fair Coordinator for the Department of Agriculture stated that he “wished Chambliss and his family the best in their endeavors” and added that he had “visited the Rocky Mount Fair many times and had fond memories of those visits”.
As for the future of the fair, that is uncertain at this time. Chambliss stated that he is hopeful that he will be able to find the right opportunity to transfer the license to another organization so that the fair might be able to be reopened at some time in the future. “It will have to be the right organization with the resources and commitment to put on a top quality fair. The fair needs new leadership with fresh ideas and new energy.”
When asked what he will do this September, Chambliss said “This fall will be bittersweet. I won’t miss the stress, but I will miss the excitement and the people. They’ve been like family. I will miss being with them a lot. My family almost made it 100 straight years. I’m sure I will reflect on that this fall”.