Prisoners prepare for State Fair

OCTOBER 16, 1996

RALEIGH - While most people are looking forward to the fun and entertainment at the state fair this weekend, state prison inmates can look forward to more hard work. Up to 15 minimum custody inmates are working feverishly to make sure that everything is ready for opening day on Friday.

"It's strictly business for inmates working at the state fairgrounds," said Correction Secretary Franklin Freeman. "Inmates stay busy working on jobs assigned to them by their supervisors. The public will find the fairgrounds cleaner and neater because inmates have been working hard to keep them that way."

The inmates have been working about eight hours a day, cutting grass, cleaning the grounds, installing portable horse stalls and painting. "They're good workers and very helpful," said Fair Manager Sam Rand. "They've been helping us for as long as I've been working here and that's 14 years. They have a good track record."

At least three times during the run of the fair, inmates will have to remove the bedding and waste from the cattle, dairy and swine stalls in the Jim Graham building. Inmates will disassembly all the stalls, disinfect and clean the area and reassemble the stalls in the same place. This work will be completed overnight while the fairgrounds are closed.

Inmates with mechanical skills repair and operate tractors, mowers, weed eaters and other equipment.

Even after the fair is over, inmates shouldn't expect to take a break from all the work. After giving the grounds and buildings a thorough cleaning, they must set up for numerous other events held throughout the year at the fairgrounds including ice hockey, flea markets, the circus and horse shows.