It is that time of the year again where folks from all over North Carolina will flock to our state’s capital for some food, fun, and rides—the N.C. State Fair has finally arrived. The fair is managed and produced by the N.C. Department of Agriculture & Consumer Services and has been ranked among the top 25 fairs in North America. As the largest 11-day event in North Carolina, the N.C. State Fair draws in crowds of more than 800,000 attendees each year. It hosts many diverse musical acts and has numerous food vendors, game booths, carnival rides, and commercial/agricultural exhibits.
This year’s N.C. State Fair is being held at the Raleigh State Fairgrounds from October 13-23. Each year, the fair has a theme and this year’s theme is “Love a Fair!” N.C. State Fair officials explain that the theme refers to the celebration of new and old attractions that keep people coming back year after year. 2011’s N.C. State Fair opening weekend brought in over 200,000 people. So, what is making all these people want to attend (whether they are newcomers or returnees)?
There are many reasons why people from all across North Carolina make an annual trip to the N.C. State Fair—there is so much to do and see. The fair offers something for everyone and can be enjoyed at any age. Each year fair officials are always trying to spice stuff up by adding new and exciting rides, games, concerts, exhibits, and food vendors. In addition to the rides, games, and concerts, a person can watch and cheer on during one of the squealing pig races, attend the petting zoo, and enjoy a nice display of fireworks, which take place every night. Of course, we cannot forget about the food (most of which is deep-fried). The food options at the fair are unlimited and hundreds of vendors offer a wide range of choices, from turkey legs to chicken gyros, from fried snickers to fried pickles, from funnel cakes to blooming onions—the list goes on. Last year, the fair introduced the Krispie Kreme burger, and this year, the fair is offering some new, fun choices: fried Kool-Aid, fried bubble gum, and fried brownies.
Beyond the bright lights of the ferris wheel and all of the fried food, however, the N.C. State Fair’s primary focus is on celebrating our state’s agricultural heritage. In 1853, the State Agricultural Society held the first State Fair which took place as a four day event. Although the first N.C. State Fair happened 158 years ago, the 2011 fair will only be the 144th staging of the event because of hiatuses that occurred during the time of the Civil War and World War II.
Today, the State Fair has become a traditional fall-time event that aims to educate all North Carolinians about the importance of agriculture to our heritage and our economy. By incorporating rides, games, food, and events into the mix, the fair makes for an unforgettable experience and one that people will continue to keep coming back for.
-Stephanie Bakolia, Claire Outlaw, David Glaubach