It’s almost time for the N.C. State Fair to begin. I love the fall and the fair is the perfect way to kick off fall with some family fun. My parents took me to the fair for the first time when I was three and we continued to go most years. Now that I’m a parent, I have continued the tradition with my family.
Since so many people are transplants to the area, I thought I’d give you a few pointers from a self-proclaimed fair professional.
Let’s start with the food! For a lot of people this is a make or break experience. If you’re into fried foods, you will be in heaven. You can get just about anything fried and/or wrapped in bacon.
If fried foods aren’t your thing, that’s ok. There are plenty of great eating options that won’t have you grabbing the Tums. From slow smoked chicken with fresh pineapple, seasoned Lamb Kabobs, or a traditional North Carolina Low Country Boil there are plenty of healthy options available. My personal favorite is the grilled corn.
You can also bring in outside food and drinks with you in small bags. You will need to go through a quick search when you enter. We like to bring in snacks and water bottles which cuts down on the cost and tummy aches.
If you are interested in a sweet treat, there are two great homemade ice cream options from either John Deere or NC State.
My personal can’t miss is the pressed apple cider. If it’s a hot day, I like to get the slushy. When it’s cold, it’s a perfect way to end the evening with a warm cup of cider.
There are plenty of ways to go to the fair without breaking the bank. The best way is to get your tickets BEFORE the fair starts. There are several packages that include entrance and ride tickets that cut cost considerably. Children 5 & under and adults over 65 are free. They also offer a military discount. This year we are getting the family 4-Pack for $44 which includes 4 tickets and 2 ride sheets.
There is also “Can Day”. With a donation of 5 canned foods, you receive one entry ticket. Of course this is a very popular day, but it is a great cause and a great way to get into the fair.
All pricing options and advance tickets are available here. You can buy advanced tickets until 11:59 Oct 13th.
There are so many fun things to see at the fair. I could probably go on and on about things to do but below is a list of some of our personal favorites:
Gardens – Honestly, I think this is one of the coolest areas at the fair. We spend a lot of time walking through all the different gardens and enjoying this oasis in the midst of the crowds.
Pig Races – The kids crack up seeing those little pigs run around the track. You want to get there early because the seats fill up early. This is a nice spot to bring a snack and rest your legs while you wait for the show.
Smokey the Bear – This is another area that is often over looked but the Forest Service does a great job teaching kids about fire safety with lots of fun and interactive exhibits.
Homemade crafts – We love walking through the buildings and seeing all the amazing creations from intricate cakes and baked goods to art and quilts. We enjoy getting our picture taken with the largest watermelon and milking a cow.
Horse Arena – If you like horses make sure to check out the horse complex. All shows are included in the price of your ticket.
Each day there is a daily schedule of all the activities. You could spend all day at the fair and not come close to seeing everything.
Competing in the Fair
One of our favorite traditions is competing in the fair. This was on my mom’s personal bucket list. Several years ago she entered her first exhibit and she quickly got the grand kids involved in what is now an annual tradition. The little ones decorate a pumpkin and the older ones usually pick something from the homemade category. This year my son made an original Lego creation and my nieces entered baked goods. You do have to register early, but it’s a great teaching tool for the kids and helps everyone get excited about the fair. I think my mom placed one time, but it’s more for bragging rights than the ribbon. This week we had to drop off our entries and the education building was buzzing with excitement from all the kids entering their creations. I can only imagine how excited they will be to see their hard work on display.
The fair won’t be for everyone, but hopefully these pointers will help you keep an open mind because to me, nothing could be finer!