Fairgrounds crew builds new skillet skee-ball game for GTBNC Festival

by | May 17, 2023

The skillet skee-ball game was built in the fairgrounds shop.

Skee-ball, skillets and fabricated fried eggs will combine for a fun new competition at this year’s Got to Be NC Festival. So, which came first, the skillet or the egg?

Carolina Cooker and parent company Agri Supply, have long supported agriculture in this state, so when the State Fair team challenged themselves to dream up several new free activities for the Got to Be NC Festival’s Agri-Plaza in the Graham Building, the team dreamt up Skillet Skee-Ball, and Carolina Cooker jumped on board. Carolina Cooker is based in North Carolina and offers a variety of cookware from traditional cast iron and enamel pieces to stainless steel and aluminum cookware, to outdoor cookers, burners, grills and fryers.

“We’re definitely excited to be part of the festival and other events throughout the year. We’re involved in several other ag events and activities, so any time we can meet up with farmers and others in agriculture, we’re happy to do it,” said Jason Allen with Carolina Cooker, “This is a fun way to show off some or our product and send some folks home with some cookware. So we’re looking forward to it.”

Getting the idea to reality took a talented team, including the crew at the N.C. State Fair and in-house graphic designers in the N.C. Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services. We might be revealing a bit of how the magic is made, but the fairgrounds crew is known for tackling tons of fabrication projects you may never notice… or some may be your favorite parts of the fair.

Led by Robert Fogle and Joe Crosby, the team builds all the display cases for the competitive exhibits during the fair. They’ve revamped the cake displays to make them rotate. They built the popular photo box backgrounds that are set up on the grounds during the N.C. State Fair. They hand-routed and painted new signage for both the FFA Children’s Barnyard and Antique Farm Machinery Building, and they even tackle the smallest of jobs like building a custom barnwood frame for the artwork over the tobacco pavilion fireplace.

“We really are like a mini-city with all types of craftsmen on our team. They all lend their talents to fabricate most all our props and they even retrofitted several information silos and out-of-service ticket booths into self-serve ticket kiosks we deploy to the gates during the fair each year, alleviating some of the pressure on our ticket windows,” explained Sarah Ray, the public information officer for the N.C. State Fair and the fairgrounds in general. “We like to say there are a few of us who dream up the crazy ideas, and they have to figure out how to make them work, but it’s really more than that. They get just as into the process as we ‘creatives’ do. By the time we all collaborate, the end product is always 100 percent better than where we started.”

Crosby said that when it came to making Carolina Cooker Skillet Skee-Ball a success, it took a little trial and error to make the game work well.

“We thought it would work if we used silicone fried eggs, but they obviously wouldn’t slide up the ramp. You had to toss them to get them into the skillets, and that felt more like corn hole than skee-ball,” Crosby said. “The silicone eggs would also get dusty and dirty if they fell off onto the ground, and they wouldn’t be tacky enough to stick in the skillets. That was unfair to the next player. All of those issues meant silicone fried eggs were abandoned.”

Next, the team tried some wooden kid’s toy food fried eggs. They slid up the PVC ramp in skee-ball fashion but not very smoothly, and they were too heavy to launch very well off the ramp toward the skillets. So, the crew applied epoxy to the ramp to make it really smooth, but the wooden toy eggs still didn’t glide quite right. Finally, they added floor wax to the epoxied launch ramp, and they made their own PVC disks that Fogle painted to look like fried eggs.

“Joe and his team also had to figure out the correct angle of both the launch ramp and the landing zone so you could actually get some air from the launch ramp and have the eggs land in the skillet and not bounce out every time,” Ray said. “All-in-all, it took a good bit of brainstorming and several changes, but I think it turned out great! Just about everyone here at the fairgrounds has gone down to the shop to try their best for the 6” skillet worth 400 points.”

The finishing touch was the graphics that wrap the game’s frame. Ray’s idea was to have the skillets appear to be on a grill grate over a charcoal fire, but with an old-school pinball look instead of your standard skee-ball brown, yellow and off-white color scheme. Chris Goodwin in the NCDA&CS graphic design office put his creativity to work and designed, printed and installed a wraparound graphic for the game that makes Carolina Cooker Skee-Ball stand out.

If you’d like to try your hand at the game, you can sign up to compete at 11 a.m. on Saturday (May 20) and 11 a.m. on Sunday (May 21). There will be three divisions, and the first 25 people to sign up in each division will get to play against each other starting at noon that day. The sign-up and competitions will be in the Graham building.

There is a youth division for teenagers aged 13 to 17, a women’s division (18+) and a men’s division (18+). Each person will get three tries for regular points and a bonus golden egg for double points. In the event of a tie, there would be a play-off between those who are tied until someone wins with the most points. The top three places will take home some Carolina Cooker cast iron cookware. First place winners will receive a 15-inch skillet. Second place wins a 10.5-inch skillet, and third place wins a 10.5-inch griddle.

Other attractions built for the festival
The State Fair crew and NCDA&CS design team also collaborated on both the “Lil Ducky Water Racing” game for this year’s festival as well as a butterfly barn. The duck racing game involves old-fashioned hand-operated pitcher pumps and water troughs for racing rubber duckies. The butterfly barn will house hundreds of butterflies where you can learn about butterfly migration patterns and their life cycles. Both are in the Kidz Corral in the Graham building.

Details about those and other fun can be found on the “Attractions” page of the Got to Be NC Festival website.