Most folks know me as Brian Long, but when it comes to the State Fair blog, I'm Flying Bob. Why Flying Bob? It's one of my favorite carnival rides. Plus, once the fair kicks off, I feel like I'm flying in circles at high speed. (All that's missing is a ride attendant shouting, "Do you wanna go fasterrrrr!") Here at the State Fair Press Office, it's our job to give you as much information about this massive event as possible. That's one of the reasons I enjoy contributing to this blog. I hope you'll enjoy reading it.

Photos from the Fair: 50 years of State Fair fun

Former Raleigh resident Tom Vestal has attended 50 consecutive N.C. State Fairs, beginning in 1960 when he was a freshman at N.C. State University. Vestal, a retired pastor who now splits his time between Yadkin County and Mouth of Wilson, Va., spent a few minutes Friday visiting with Agriculture Commissioner Steve Troxler in Heritage Circle. Want to know more about Vestal’s 50 years at the Fair? Check out the WRAL story below. Note: If video doesn’t appear, try refreshing the browser.

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Progress Photos: Wednesday

The rapidly approaching opening of the N.C. State Fair tomorrow means a lot of final preparations are taking place today. In Dorton Arena, crews were installing lighting equipment as the building gets ready for 11 nights of concerts. The 2010 concert series kicks off tomorrow with country singer Danny Gokey. (Tickets for the show are $5.) In the Jim Graham Building, livestock were being checked in for the Junior Livestock Shows. Across the fairgrounds, vendors were putting out their products and gussying up their booths. Inspectors with the state Labor Department were busy inspecting rides to make sure they meet…

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Artist Spotlight: Jeffrey Osborne

In the summer of 1982, I got my driver’s license. It wasn’t long before I was spending a lot of time in my VW Beetle, driving around, listening to the radio and enjoying my newfound independence — as long as there was gas in the tank. One of the songs I heard over and over that year was Jeffrey Osborne‘s “On the Wings of Love.” That love song was everywhere on the radio dial. Or maybe it just seemed that way to me because I didn’t want to hear love songs; I wanted to hear upbeat tunes that I could…

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Fireworks fans

A few weeks back, we announced we would periodically feature on this blog some of our favorite photos that fans have posted to our Facebook page. Here’s our latest winner. This photo caught our eye because it offers a different perspective on the nightly fireworks show. We’re used to seeing photos of fireworks (and there have been some really, really good ones). This one, submitted by Jewel Wyrick, shows a grandfather and his grandson enjoying the show on a cool fall night. It also reinforces the fact that the State Fair is a tradition for generations of families. For being…

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Curtis Mabe’s big tractor wins Best of Show award at festival

Congratulations to Curtis Mabe of Parkton, whose 1964 Allis-Chalmers D21 won Best of Show in the tractor competition at the Got to Be NC Festival. The team of judges liked Mabe’s use of chrome and the many little details he used in restoring the tractor, says Pat Short, the festival’s motor sports coordinator. “It’s a very rare tractor,” Short says. “It’s also huge.” The following tractors and owners also won awards in the competition: Best of Show, Prior to 1930 — Ken and Patti Eder of Carthage, 1914 Sawyer Massey Best of Show, 1930-49 — Jim Karriker of Mooresville, 1949…

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Animals from Farm Animal Frenzy have new homes

Five fiberglass animals that competed in the N.C. State Fair’s Farm Animal Frenzy have new homes. All five pieces were sold to North Carolina buyers in an auction that ended yesterday. The items add a total of $1,521.58 to state coffers. “We had quite a bit of bidding for these pieces so it was fun to finally get to open the bids and see who bought them,” said State Surplus Property Officer Robert Riddle. “We hope everyone enjoys them … .” Riddle said the three 6½-foot-tall chickens and a life-size cow and horse each averaged about 50 bids, ranging from…

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Five 2008 Farm Animal Frenzy animals are up for auction

If you’ve ever had a hankering to own one of the fiberglass animals that competed in the 2008 Farm Animal Frenzy contest at the N.C. State Fair, now’s your chance. The State Surplus Property Agency is accepting online bids for five animals (a cow, horse and three chickens) until Tuesday, Jan. 19, at 1 p.m. (You don’t have to bid on all five.) You can register to bid here. The animals were decorated by high school art students as part of the Fair’s annual Farm Animal Frenzy art contest. They were on display at the 2008 State Fair, and though…

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Powers Great American Midways will return in 2010

If you’ve grown accustomed to the rides and games at the N.C. State Fair, you’ll be happy to know that the company operating the midway will return again next year. State Fair organizers have signed a contract with Powers Great American Midways to operate the carnival rides and games at the 2010 State Fair. Under the contract, Powers will pay the State Fair a fee based on the number of people who buy admission tickets to the Fair. That financial arrangement has been good for the State Fair, which does not receive any taxpayer dollars to cover operations. Powers paid…

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Chinese tobacco buyers get a taste of the State Fair

Asian visitors to the N.C. State Fair are becoming a tradition. Last year, Japan’s ambassador to the U.S. visited. Saturday, a group of 22 Chinese tobacco buyers toured the Fair. The group has been in North Carolina for almost a week, meeting with representatives of U.S. Tobacco Cooperative and others involved in exporting N.C. tobacco to China. Agriculture Commissioner Steve Troxler took a few members of the delegation for short rides on the Big Cart. Afterward, the group visited the Got to Be NC Agriculture exhibit, sampled homemade ice cream and strung tobacco in Heritage Circle, saw dairy cattle in…

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Fuquay-Varina High School wins People’s Choice Award in Farm Animal Frenzy contest

Fuquay-Varina High School’s “Sleepy Sheepy” won the People’s Choice Award in the 2009 Farm Animal Frenzy competition at the N.C. State Fair. “Sleepy Sheepy” received 505 votes in online polling, outdistancing Durham School of the Arts’ “Raul the Rooster,” which placed second with 426 votes. Fuquay-Varina’s entry had garnered an honorable mention in the judges’ competition, but proved to be the most popular with the public. As the PCA winner, the high school gets bragging rights for the next year. Below is the high school’s description of its winning entry. Sleepy Sheepy has just finished eating jam from his JAM…

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