For 11 days every fall the greatest event happens in NC, THE STATE FAIR! I remember going to the NC State Fair as a kid with my parents and grandparents. Well, mostly my mom and my grandparents, because its right at the beginning of hunting season, and EVERYTHING stopped for hunting season, for my dad. These days, he’s not as die-hard as he use to be. This past weekend was the first weekend of the Fair. The weather was perfect; not to cold or hot. The fair is definitely a tradition for my family and so are the things we like to look at.
The fair is all about showcasing the best in culture, agriculture, and people in North Carolina. Yes there are rides and silly games to play to win ridiculous prizes, but those are just “the side shows” to me. We don’t even venture to the ride area or those games. Every year, we enter the same gate at the fair, we like do look at things in a specific order. I’ve mapped out our route, it starts at Gate 8.
The first stop is Smitty’s Apple Booth.
They sell apples, apple fritters, and apple turnovers. BUT the best thing they sell is the apple dumpling. It’s a whole apple peeled and cored baked inside of a pastry and then topped with this delicious liquid apple syrup sauce. Heaven on earth!
In the same area is the history of the state fair building, flue cured tobacco barn, a black smith’s shop, and a place to get apple cider. And yes I got me some apple cider. De-lish! There are gardens and cut floral competitions near the apple dumpling vendor. The fall flowers are very pretty!
The little white church is also in that area. I feel like it is one of the iconic scenes of the fair ground.
Next we swing by the wooden boat display. This same man sets up shop every year and builds a boat from start to finish. It’s very cool. Depending on when you visit the fair you can see different parts of the process. In the background of the boat picture you will see the sign for the Village of Yesteryear. In this building there are vendors in period costumes that sell pottery, soap, art, wooden decoys, and other artisan crafts. It is one of my favorite buildings to go in. When I was younger the Moravian cookies from Salem, NC were made and sold in this building. It was a treat to get these cookies. The ginger Moravian cookies are one of my favorite non-chocolate sweets! (they are no longer at the State Fair)
Right next to the Village of Yesteryear is the handcrafts and hobbies building. This has competitions for various wood working items, gourds, eggs, stamping crafts, cards, and scrapbooking. I entered the scrapbooking contest one year in college and won a blue ribbon!
Up next is the Expo Center. There was this cool balloon display in the lobby this year made in the shape of a Ferris Wheel.
The Expo Center is where all of the livestock are judged during the week. All of the produce is judged here as well. Including the contests for the biggest watermelons and pumpkins! I couldn’t believe how big the winning pumpkin was this year…..over 1400 pounds and a new state record.
We then make our way over to the education building. This is where House Autry gives away free hushpuppies and you can buy different kinds of roasted peanuts in little cups for 50 cents. The education building also houses all of the cooking contests, cake decorating contests, quilts, cross stitching, clothing, and 4-H contests. I love looking at the decorated cakes and the quilts, there are some very talented people in NC! (Yes, those boots and hat below are a cake!)
One of the last buildings we visit is the Scott Building which has a bunch of vendors and also houses all of the photography and art contests. I like looking at the different North Carolina scenes people capture for display.
If you’re in North Carolina, there’s still plenty of time to go to the fair! It closes this Sunday. If you are there at night you can see a fireworks display at 9:45pm every night. One of the things I miss about college is being able to watch the fireworks every night from my apartment on campus. Do you have a favorite state fair food or tradition?
Note the only bear you will see at this fair is Smokey the Bear with the forest rangers!