CAROLINE, VA (WWBT) - A fall fixture, the State Fair of Virginia returns this week to The Meadow Event Park in Caroline County near Kings Dominion. Along with the second year at that new location, comes new plans to avoid major traffic jams.
Big attendance days at last year's State Fair caused back-ups onto Interstate 95 at the Doswell exit. Among the changes to help this year -- you won't have to pay to park.
"During last year's fair we had a problem the second Saturday," said State Fair spokesperson Jay Lugar. "We had a lot of people come, and we know we needed to changed the way we do parking, traffic and trams for the fair."
This year four changes are in place to help during the fair's 11-day run. Event officials coordinated with State Police and VDOT and plan to bring in I-95 traffic at a different entrance and have the option of opening a second entrance if necessary.
The parking fee has been eliminated to help speed cars into parking lots, and a different company, RMC events, will be managing parking.
"We have a lot more options this year," Lugar said. "We've studied it all year long. We want to make sure that people have a great time when they come to the fair."
About 40,000 people attended the final Saturday of the fair last year. On that day, the traffic pattern in place didn't work and there were hour-long back-ups on the interstate and Route 30. This year, event officials have flip-flopped the entrance and exit, so the main entrance will now be on Meadow Farm Road closer to I-95.
When you leave, you will exit further down at last year's entrance.
That gate could also be used as another entrance at busy times for people driving in from the east on Route 301.
"The incoming traffic won't cross the outgoing traffic, so it will be a much smoother process," Lugar said.
As for parking, "we are not charging for parking at a fixed location this year. Last year we charged $5 for parking. This year it's a $2 facility fee for each ticket," he said.
Once you are parked, you'll be able to catch a tram to the ticket plaza. The State Fair of Virginia starts Thursday. See http://www.statefair.com