There are many reasons people from across North Carolina make an annual trip to the N.C. State Fair. Squealing, speed-racing pigs. Giant, blue-ribbon pumpkins. Old-fashioned ferris wheel rides. And, of course, deep-fried food on a stick.
Beyond the bright lights of the Midway, however, the N.C. State Fair has focused on celebrating our state’s agricultural heritage. In 1853, the State Agricultural Society held the first State Fair; it was four days long and the largest attendance day had 4,000 fairgoers. After the Agricultural Society disbanded in 1925, the Fair was placed under the control of the Department of Agriculture three years later and moved to its present site at the State Fairgrounds in Raleigh.
Today, the State Fair aims to educate all North Carolinians about the importance of agriculture to our heritage and our economy. We have several agricultural exhibits that are fun for the whole family:
- Field of Dreams: Kids can pick up a basket at the entrance and pick crops such as apples, strawberries and cucumbers and learn about other crops and how they turn into everyday staples, such as peanut butter and cereal. After picking the crops, children can then “sell” their harvest at the Field of Dreams Farmers Market for “fair money.” The money can then be spent at the Field of Dreams Grocery Store. New features to this exhibit include a resting area for parents and a greenhouse. And don’t forget to stop by the photo op site just outside of the exhibit for a great fall family photo. Presented by the N.C. Farm Bureau and the NCDA&CS, this exhibit also includes a coloring contest, storytelling center and a photo area where families can take a snapshot from their day at the “farm.” Open daily from 9 a.m. to 9:45 p.m.
- Got to Be NC tent: Discover food products from across North Carolina at the Got to Be NC Agriculture exhibit, located just outside the Scott Building. The exhibit displays North Carolina’s agricultural diversity and educates fairgoers on what products they can find locally. Food and nursery products from the Goodness Grows in North Carolina and the Freshness from North Carolina Waters programs will be available for fairgoers to taste and purchase. Food producers and companies with a variety of samples will change throughout the week.
- N.C. State Fair Ark: North Carolina’s diverse production of livestock is featured at the State Fair Ark, where more than 60 animals are exhibited. Fairgoers can see cattle, sheep, goats, swine and learn more about the various breeds of farm animals raised in North Carolina. The Ark’s Avenue of Champions will feature grand and reserve champions from the junior market steer, lamb, goat, turkey and barrow shows. Visitors also can milk a cow with the help of volunteers from the N.C. State University Animal Science Club. The Ark is located in the Exposition Center and will be open from 9 a.m. to 9:45 p.m.
We hope you’ll include some of these agricultural exhibits — as well as the livestock shows in the Jim Graham Building and horticulture entries in the Expo Center — during your visit. Check out the N.C. State Fair Web site for tickets and the Deep Fried @ the N.C. State Fair blog for behind-the-scenes info.