The N.C. State Fair is known for gastronomical indulgences. In just the past few years, visitors to the state's premier fall event have chowed down on deep-fried bananas Foster, deep-fried HoHos, deep-fried Coke and deep-fried Reese's Cups as well as the Krispy Kreme cheeseburger and the Twinx (a Twinkie stuffed with a Twix candy bar, wrapped in bacon, batter-dipped and deep-fried).
Fresh calorie-bombs are making the scene in 2015. But we're going to do the right thing, nutritionally speaking, and report on other new happenings at the phenomenon, taking place Oct. 15-25 in Raleigh.
"From agricultural exhibits to live entertainment and Midway attractions, there's something for everyone at the N.C. State Fair," notes Steve Troxler, agriculture commissioner. "It's part of the reason hundreds of thousands of North Carolinians walk through those gates every year."
Debuting on stages and other points around the fairgrounds are musical acts, world-champion female loggers and magic shows. They join more than 50 regulars on the entertainment menu, such as racing pigs, a Kenyan acrobat troupe, silk aerialists, and the singers and dancers at the Folk Festival.
This year, the fair offers an original experience with its Homegrown N.C. Concert Series, which brings native artists center stage. The Dorton Arena shows feature a mix of rock, country, R&B, contemporary Christian, indie, salsa, Indian, beach and gospel music. Performers include the Charlie Daniels Band, Jason Michael Carrol, Black Sheep, the Love Language and more.
Tickets are free. Visitors who want floor seating need to pick up tickets beginning 9 a.m. on the day of the show at the Dorton Arena Box Office.
Attendees may get tickets for only the event occurring that day, and there's a six-ticket limit per person. The permanent seating in Dorton Arena is available without a ticket on a first-come, first-served basis.
Here's the lineup:
Oct. 15 – Firehouse with The Fifth (rock)
Oct. 16 – The Great I Am: A one-night only concert with The Summit Church featuring Kaimy Masse, Hank Murphy and Summit Worship (contemporary Christian)
Oct. 17 – Jason Michael Carroll with Luke Combs and Stephanie Quayle (country)
Oct. 18 – Orquesta GarDel (Latin/salsa)
Oct. 19 – Nuv Yug presents Bollywood Night (Indian)
Oct. 20 – Black Sheep with Shadina (R&B/hip hop)
Oct. 21 – Band of Oz & The Embers (beach)
Oct. 22 – A Night of Praise featuring the Wake Chapel Choir, Instrument of Praise Gospel Concert Chorale and Watts Chapel Gospel Choir (gospel)
Oct. 23 – The Love Language (indie)
Oct. 24 – Charlie Daniels Band with Kasey Tyndall (country)
Oct. 25 – Nantucket with Sidewinder (rock)
First-timers at the spectacle include the Agri-cadabra show (Brad teaches about agriculture through magic tricks); Farm Magic Agri-Puppets (Lisa, Twerk, Boomer and Harry); the Moo-Gician, and Axe Women of Maine (strong-armed troupe that chops wood, throws axes, rolls logs and saws with speed and precision).
Thousands of participants of all ages battle it out each year to nab prize money, blue ribbons and bragging rights in categories from art to wine and livestock from dairy cattle to pygmy goats.
Whether they're inspecting the wool-breeds sheep or the clothes, quilts and cabinetry, people expect to see the very best. Lines form to take a gander at the decorated cakes, and cooking match-ups are always crowd-pleasers.
In 2015, with the addition of several competitions, there are more opportunities to be a champion. The contests now include rabbit hopping!
Cut-rate advance admission ($8 for adults; $3 for children) is available online at ncstatefair.org through Oct. 15. An 18-ticket ride sheet is $10 in advance.
Children 5 and under and adults 65 and over get in free. Members of the military can buy a ticket at the gate for $6, but not in advance.
Friday Frenzy offers $5 admission on Oct. 16 to students who present a valid school ID or recent report card. Unlimited wristbands for the day, which can be bought at Midway locations, are $34 each.
There are several new savings packages, which are sold only during the advance-sales period, including:
The $66 Mega Pass allows one scanned entry per day. This price reflects a savings of $22 off the purchase of 11 individual advance-sales tickets.
The $24 Mini Pass allows one scanned entry per day for up to four days. This is a savings of $8 off the purchase of four individual advance-sales tickets.
The $44 Family 4-Pack includes four admission tickets and two ride sheets (36 ride tickets). This is $8 off the purchase of four advance-sales admission tickets and two advance-sales ride sheets.
For more information, go to ncstatefair.org.