The N.C. State Fair’s new assistant manager Robert Fogle is new to North Carolina, but definitely not to agricultural fairs.
The native of Frederick, Maryland grew up showing animals at his local fair through 4-H and FFA programs, gaining a love for agricultural education along the way. Fogle, 51, showed dairy goats, market lambs and beef cattle. Today, he and his family still raise Dorper and Shropshire sheep, which are now shown by his nieces.
Those early experiences instilled many life lessons and left Fogle with a fondness for agricultural fairs, so he is not surprised he has ended up with a career working with fairs.
“My grandmother loved to tell the story that I said that one day I wanted to manage the Great Frederick Fair. I don’t recall saying that, but she told that so often that now i tell it,” he said. “I think fairs are important parts of our communities and society and they lend themselves to help educate the public about the importance of agriculture. It’s important we tell our story, not allow someone else to tell that story.”
Helping people make that connection is even more important today as many residents are two and three generations removed from the farm. North Carolina has around 28 agricultural fairs held across the state including the N.C. State Fair and the N.C. Mountain State Fair operated by the N.C. Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services.
Fogle also brings significant experience in fair operations to his new job, not just as a livestock exhibitor. Though he never served as the Great Frederick Fair manager, Fogle did work with that fair for 18 years, starting when he was still in college. He later worked five years with the Maryland State Fair and two years in the private sector before coming to Raleigh.
When he first started with the Great Frederick Fair, there were only two employees so he had an opportunity to be involved in almost every aspect of the fair operations including livestock shows and competitions. That experience led to his job as director of agricultural programs, educational programming and educational exhibits at the Maryland State Fair.
Some of his proudest fair accomplishments were the development of educational programming that drew 7,500 students to the fair for educational field trips that coordinated with school curriculum, a Spudy Buddy program where kids learned more about where their food comes from and an AgVentures Passport that guided young people around the fairgrounds to learn about agriculture’s connection to nearly every aspect of the fair and their everyday lives.
This year, he plans to get the lay of the land and look at all of the State Fair’s agricultural exhibits and programming.
For Fogle, every day reminds him why he loves working for the fair.
“It’s just the enjoyment of being part of something that is different every year, with new challenges and new opportunities in terms of planning,” he said. “Plus, seeing the excitement on the faces of kids and each guest. It brings a sense of joy and satisfaction to know you have been part of someone’s happy memories.”
Join us in welcoming Robert Fogle to the N.C. State Fair team!