New rides, a brewing competition and deep fried Girl Scout cookies. Oh my.
“You have to see it to believe it,” N.C. State Fair Director Brian Long said on Monday.
The 143rd State Fair begins Thursday, Oct. 11. The nearly 175 acres of fairgrounds will host the “state’s largest family reunion,” N.C. Commissioner of Agriculture Steve Troxler said.
With an emphasis on fun and education, the fair has plenty of new offerings. The food vendors will sell even more ways to satisfy your sweet and salty tooth with menu items like deep fried brownie sundaes, deep fried cinnamon rolls with bacon, deep fried Hostess cupcakes, Philly cheese steak egg rolls, pig butt on a stick and deep fried Girl Scout cookies.
“What better way to celebrate 100 years of Girl Scouts than to deep fry their cookies,” Troxler said.
And despite claims that the bacon supply is running low across the United States, Long said that’s not a problem for the next 11 days in Raleigh.
“There’s no shortage of bacon at the State Fair,” he said.
Beyond the food, State Fair officials are proud to boast about the reinvestment projects that have taken place in the last year on the grounds. From a new waterfall pond and paving to sidewalks at the Graham Building and new cable trenches throughout the campus, there’s plenty fair-goers won’t necessarily notice that has worked to better their experience.
The traffic patterns have been reconfigured since past fairs to help people move through major areas like the midway that houses games and rides.
Several factors come into play when determining if the fair will be a success, Troxler said. Namely, the weather and foot traffic are the Commissioner’s priorities. He jokingly said he has staff diligently working on both.
The beer competition features several local brewers. It’s just one of many competitions that Troxler said have strong entries. Entries in the livestock and general competitions are up this year. In the flower and garden competitions alone, there’s upwards of 9,000 entries.
And at the Village of Yesteryear, vendors are making the old new again.
Chris Morgan, part-time wet-plate photographer and full-time administrator with Johnston County Public Schools, will exhibit his work for the first time at the State Fair this year. He will display his photography with the use of all original lenses and technology from the 1850s to 1870s.
For the past 11 years, Morgan has taken photos the old, old school way. He hopes to demonstrate some of his skills for fair-goers and take their photos while they have to stare at the camera lens for 10 to 12 seconds.
“It’s an experience to just sit,” he said.
Not all the fair is fun and games. Troxler said the Food Lion Hunger Relief Day is very important to many people in need. Last year, the fair raked in 247,569 pounds of canned food for the food bank from fair patrons.
This year, Troxler committed to writing a check for $1,000 to the food bank if the fair collects more than last year’s total. If the amount comes in at more than 275,000 pounds, he’ll donate $2,500 and if the fair collects 300,000 pounds of food, Troxler will give $5,000 to the food bank.
Although he’d much sooner bring money in than let it go out of his department, hunger relief is a worthy cause.
“This is one (cause) that I’d be tickled to death to write the check,” he said.
And with hunger relief, the fair staff also takes safety and cleanliness seriously. Last year, an E. coli outbreak was traced back to the fair. So, this year, officials said there’s much better management of access to livestock animals. It’s more of a “look, but don’t touch” idea.
However, there will be a petting zoo that’s separate. And there’s a large emphasis on making sure attendees wash their hands.
Want more State Fair news? Check out the Deep Fried @ the N.C. State Fair at http://info.ncagr.com/DeepFried/ or find the N.C. State Fair on Facebook and Twitter. There’s also an updated State Fair app available for the iPhone and Droid.
Contact Kelly Griffith at email@example.com or 919-552-5675.