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.

Press Office Challenge: Flu-shot duo edition

In our continuing quest to do things we’ve never done at the N.C. State Fair, Firecracker and I teamed up to get a seasonal flu shot from Kerr Drugs. The pharmacy is offering flu shots at two locations on the fairgrounds: in the dome on the southeast side of Dorton Arena and at a booth outside the Village of Yesteryear. I’ve been getting the seasonal flu shot for several years now, ever since that winter when my then-infant daughter brought home a flu bug from daycare and shared it with the whole family. But I’d never gotten a flu shot…

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Press Office Challenge: Racin’ edition

I’ve been living a sheltered life. At least that’s what Dennis Cook says. Cook runs the Circle C Racing Pigs on the Hogway Speedway at the N.C. State Fair. At the start of the show, he says people who’ve never seen racing pigs have been sheltered. Consider me sheltered no more. Tuesday, I saw my first racing-pig show. I’m almost ashamed to admit that I’d never seen one in my five previous years in the State Fair Press Office. After all, it’s one of the most popular attractions at the Fair. Answering Firecracker’s challenge to do something we’ve never done…

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Counting is fun

Every year, we get lots of questions about attendance at the N.C. State Fair. And every year, we base attendance figures on the number of admission tickets sold plus the count for children and senior citizens who get in free. But every year, there are days when we’d swear on a funnel cake that there are more people on the fairgrounds than the official numbers show. The reason for that, of course, is that there are A LOT of people working or volunteering at the Fair, competing in livestock shows and other contests, or covering the Fair for media outlets….

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Making lists and checking them twice

We dedicated State Fair Press Office types consider it our duty to sample a variety of foods during the fair. After all, if we are to be credible sources of information about State Fair cuisine, we must do extensive research. A couple of us take this work so seriously that we write up a “wish list” so we can keep track of our consumption (see above). As you’ll notice by the scratch marks and checks, we made a lot of progress this year — and consumed a lot of calories. All in the name of public service.

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Sellin’ ‘backer’

Yesterday at the State Fair, there was a mock tobacco auction. Today, tobacco auctions are extinct, replaced by contracts with tobacco companies. But for more than 150 years, they were THE way N.C. farmers marketed their cured leaf. Retired auctioneers, buyers and warehousemen staged the mock auction in the Expo Center. Today’s fast-talking ad men, the guys who fly through the fine print at the end of those car ads on the radio, have nothing on these auctioneers. They are colorful, lyrical even, and, yes, fast. A crowd of about 50 people gathered to watch these old pros demonstrate how…

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Q&A with Jared, the Subway Guy

Getting thin made Jared Fogle famous. Fogle was an overweight Indiana University student when he began eating Subway sandwiches and exercising. He lost 245 pounds. After his story appeared in the campus newspaper, he gained notoriety for his weight loss and became a pitchman for Subway. Since then, he has appeared in commercials and traveled the world talking about the importance of proper diet and exercise. This year, to celebrate the 10th anniversary of “taking it off and keeping it off,” Fogle and Subway launched the Tour de Pants. Afterward, his original pair of size-60 blue jeans will be retired…

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Overheard at the Fair: The Jingle

Yesterday, I was walking into the press office when I passed two deputy sheriffs. One of them was singing the jingle from the State Fair’s TV and radio commercials: “Take time for a great time … take time for a great time.” He sang pretty well, too. I’m glad to hear that the jingle stuck with at least one person.

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International relations at the State Fair

Japan’s ambassador to the United States visited the N.C. State Fair Sunday, and got a ride he wasn’t expecting. Ichiro Fujisaki and his wife, Yoriko, went for a ride in the Got to Be NC Big Cart with Agriculture Commissioner Steve Troxler. The 13-foot-tall shopping cart is used to promote North Carolina agricultural products at festivals and parades around the state. Fujisaki was in North Carolina to attend the annual meeting of the Japan-U.S. Southeast Association, an organization that promotes trade and investment between Japan and the Southeastern United States. Japan is North Carolina’s largest export market, buying $750 million…

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