WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. (WGHP) — The Carolina Classic Fair may be here for 10 days, but the planning is a year-round process.

Fair Director Cheryle Hartley is responsible for making sure all the details come together to give as many as 300,000 guests the best experience possible.

“It’s a family reunion,” she said. “You come in and see everybody and you’re here for ten days. You may not see them for a whole year, but it’s that type of relationship.”

Hartley has been with the City of Winston-Salem since 1990.

She became part of the Fairgrounds team in 1995.

She was promoted to different roles across the years and made history in 2019 – becoming the first female to serve as fair director of the Carolina Classic Fair.

The Fair represents the sights and sounds of Hartley’s childhood.

She grew up in Kernersville.

Her parents were from Yadkinville.

“The night they got married, they came to the fair,” she said.

“They always celebrated. They brought me and my brother to the fair every year. Some of my fondest memories are getting the old ride books, and coming up here riding rides, eating the food.”

She never thought she’d be back running the show – pulling together more than 100 vendors, organizing all the exhibits, and coordinating with local law enforcement to make sure visitors are safe.

“The customer never sees really what goes on behind the scenes. We don’t want them to. We want them to see the lights, the food, the excitement, the happiness.”

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Hartley has received the Holmes/McBride Humanitarian Award for her work in the fair industry.

The Carolina Classic Fair averages between 200,000 – 300,000 visitors.

It is the second largest fair in North Carolina behind the North Carolina State Fair.