Merrie Go Round is the midway alter-ego of Andrea Ashby, who has officially spent 252 days during the past 24 years at the N.C. State Fair. That's perfect attendance in case you were wondering. In addition to promoting the Fair, looking for untold Fair stories and working on various special events, I also spend a great deal of time roaming the grounds taking photos for the Website and State Fair publications. I like to keep my eyes and ears posted for the unusual and different things that make the State Fair such a great celebration of North Carolina people, traditions and history. I look forward to sharing with you the things I come across on my journey.

Volunteers help enhance State Fair experiences

“What did you pick for me today,” asked Princeton High School FFA member and Field of Dreams volunteer Collin Worley to a group of kids walking up with their baskets. “Let’s see what you have.” When visitors to the Field of Dreams walk through the exhibit and pick vegetables along the path, they take those items to the market stand where they can learn more about the vegetables. On Sunday, Worley, a senior, was joined by sophomores Blake Martin and Mason Rosenbaum. who stayed busy talking to guests about cucumbers, sweet potatoes and turnips. For many kids, the turnips were…

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Retired NCDA&CS duo brings Field of Dreams to life every year at the State Fair

Gardens showcases N.C. crops from the field to the table Rex and Ruth Sasser are pictured with the “corn field” that is part of the Field of Dreams exhibit presented by the North Carolina Electric Cooperatives. Rex Sasser oversees the planting and management of the crops in the exhibit. His wife Ruth and their daughters travel to Raleigh twice a week from Goldsboro to check on the crops’ progress. It takes a lot of work to put on an event as big as the N.C. State Fair every year. Planning “for next year” is often well underway before the fair…

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Jaycees turkey shoot returns to the fairgrounds

After a two-year break, the Raleigh Jaycees’ Turkey Shoot returns to the N.C. State Fair offering fairgoers an opportunity to win a t-shirt or a turkey voucher for their sharp-shooting skills or beginner’s luck winning shots. “Lots of folks have been talking to us and are happy we are returning,” said Connor Brady, 2022 Turkey Shoot chair and president-elect for the Raleigh Jaycees. “The turkey shoot is a memory maker for many people who come to the fair. It’s a good experience for first-time shooters and a good experience for sharp shooters.” Brady said the stories and memories people share…

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New assistant manager has deep roots in agricultural fairs; brings a passion for ag education to the job

The N.C. State Fair’s new assistant manager Robert Fogle is new to North Carolina, but definitely not to agricultural fairs. The native of Frederick, Maryland grew up showing animals at his local fair through 4-H and FFA programs, gaining a love for agricultural education along the way. Fogle, 51, showed dairy goats, market lambs and beef cattle. Today, he and his family still raise Dorper and Shropshire sheep, which are now shown by his nieces. Those early experiences instilled many life lessons and left Fogle with a fondness for agricultural fairs, so he is not surprised he has ended up…

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AccessAbility Day fulfills long-time desire to meet the needs of those with differing abilities

Katie Cotton has lots of people in her immediate circle who live with disabilities. It has helped inform her perspective and guide her interactions with those who may need special accommodations. So when her employer Bandwidth stepped in to sponsor AccessAbility Day at the State Fair — a first for the fair – she was thrilled for what that would mean for others. And even for people who might not see themselves as needing a special accommodation for accessibility. “Almost every single one of us will need accommodations at some point in our lives. Some of us are born with…

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Answering some of the most popular State Fair questions

With over 220,000 Facebook followers, 12,400 Twitter friends and 36,000 Insta fans, you can imagine a lot of questions come across the N.C. State Fair’s social platforms. We’ll try to answer some of the top ones in this blog. When’s the fair/What’s the fair dates? Believe it or not this is one of the top questions, answered many hundreds of times leading up to the State Fair and sometimes dozens of times in the same thread. This year’s fair dates are Oct. 14-24. Tip: If you are hunting for the fair dates, look for the logo. It is typically incorporated…

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Popular Pik-N-Pig rises from the ashes of disaster

Fair food booths work hard to stand out and grab the attention of fairgoers. At the N.C. State Fair, that runs the gamut from bright or unusual colors, flashing lights, dynamic music, a huge inflatable ostrich head or a unique and repetitive voice advertising all types of pies. But the Pik-N-Pig’s rustic, tiny, 5-foot-by-12-foot wooden-sided trailer serves more than just being an eye catcher, it’s also houses the barbecue vendor’s pig cooker — the heart of the food operation. So on May 30, when the Pik-N-Pig’s brick-and-mortar restaurant at the Gilliam-McConnell Airfield in Carthage went up in flames, owner Ashley…

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State Fair offers up a lot for families to do – tips to plan your trip

From many kids’ point of view, the State Fair might just represent the absolute best place on Earth. It’s bright, bold and colorful; there’s music and crazy foods you won’t see anywhere else; the grounds teem with free entertainment that makes you laugh, inspires you to dream and sometimes just begs you to suspend disbelief; and then there are the games and rides. Even as a self-proclaimed “big kid,” I still find it to be a magical, energizing place. If you are bringing the family, here are a few/10 tips to consider to maximize the fun. Tips 1-4 are for…

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The questions keep coming at the fair information booths

  “Where’s the bathrooms?” “Where’s the pig races?” “Where can I get tickets or redeem my ride wristbands?” Paul Brown, who mans an information booth near Gate 9,  ranks those as the top three questions he gets on a daily basis. This is Brown’s third year working an information booth and the first for Trish Boone, who is sharing the booth with him. Boone would also add to the list, “Where’s the gate that I came in?” The two pass out a lot of daily schedules with maps, and offer directions to the pig races, specific food booths, different gates,…

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Winners picked in the Heritage Tobacco Harvest Competition

Tobacco is a tradition in North Carolina, and you will find plenty of examples of this cash crop on display at the State Fair. At 2 p.m. Friday, Oct. 13, teams of three will compete in the annual tobacco stringing contest for bragging rights and cash prizes. All that tobacco plus many more sticks will fill the antique tobacco barn, where the leaves will be cured by heat during the week. On Friday, Oct. 20, there will be a mock auction simulating the old way of buying and selling stacks of tobacco bundled onto burlap sheets. You can also find…

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