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.

A Day in the Life at the State Fair: Vendor edition

When you consider attendance numbers, on any given day the N.C. State Fair is a lot like a small town. And just like a small town, there are many people working hard every day to keep things running, keep people fed and keep folks entertained and informed. The Deep Fried blog is doing A Day in the Life at the State Fair series to give fair-goers a behind-the-scenes look at the people who make the fair happen. Today’s focus is on food vendor Chris Wrenn of Ragin’ Cajun. Food seems a logical place to start for this series since surveys show…

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10 educational ideas for teachers

The N.C. State Fair isn’t just about food and rides, although those are often reasons people cite for coming to the annual event. The fair offers plenty of opportunities to learn, too, through exhibits, displays and scavenger hunts. Here’s a Top 10 list of educational ideas for teachers and parents, too. Did you know we offer two scavenger hunts – a general one and a science-themed one? Print out a copy from our website or stop by the Expo Center to pick one up, and then set off on your quest for answers. Both scavenger hunts take you through many…

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See where some of your favorite foods come from at the Field of Dreams

The vegetable garden at the Field of Dreams exhibit shows helps consumers connect their food to the farm.

We all have our favorite foods, whether it’s pizza, burgers, salads or breakfast items.  Or maybe it’s a favorite meal, like Thanksgiving. Regardless of what is our favorite, everything we eat starts on a farm, raised by a farmer. Fairgoers can see ingredients that are in some of their favorite foods actually growing in the newly revamped Field of Dreams . “We wanted people to be able to make the connection between the wheat plants and the pizza crust or sub bread,” said Carl Tart, exhibit coordinator. “We are used to walking into the store and picking up a loaf…

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The Nest — THE place for official N.C. State Fair merchandise

Most State Fair visitors have certain traditions that make the fair memorable, whether it’s eating at a favorite food booth, buying a special souvenir or visiting certain exhibits. No matter if it’s their first year or their 50th, those special memories and traditions are part of what keeps visitors coming back to the State Fair year after year. We know people love the State Fair, and this year, fans and super fans alike can take home their own official piece of the fair from the new merchandise booth, The Nest. The Nest will be located in the lobby of the…

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Making memories of a lifetime one year at a time

Firecracker and I are celebrating our 20th State Fair. Yes, Firecracker started working when she was 5 years old! (hahaha…very funny.) So in honor of our 20th anniversaries, we thought it would be fun to come up with our Top 20 Fair Memories to share with readers. When I was thinking back over all the cool and fun things I have gotten to do at the State Fair, the one thing that stood out in almost every one of them is the fun I had with the people involved. And that is really what the State Fair is all about,…

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Putting science to work in judging canned goods at the State Fair

Kinsey Porter, a senior majoring in food science at N.C. State University is testing the pH level in a marmalade entry.

I’m a home canner, and I am very careful to follow the directions when I can for fear of botulism. And by very careful, I mean VERY CAREFUL; careful to the point that I get picked on by family members. But it’s OK; my motto is “better safe than sorry.” So when it comes to the folks judging the canned goods, I have wondered if everyone is as particular as I try to be. After all, the judges will be tasting them. So, come to find out, N.C. State University food science students and food safety specialist Ben Chapman test…

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Rock bands bookend the State Fair’s concert lineup

Throughout its history, Dorton Arena has hosted some of the biggest, loudest and rowdiest rock bands that have toured the country. Bands such as Kiss, Led Zeppelin, the Jimi Hendrix Experience, Black Sabbath, Jethro Tull, Ratt and Bon Jovi have played Dorton Arena. I can only imagine the amped-up guitar squalls and pounding drum solos bouncing off the glass and concrete during any of those shows. Rock on! With the 2015 State Fair, Dorton will be bracing for another round of rock ‘n’ roll warfare with performances by the heavy metal band Firehouse on Oct. 15 and Southern rockers Nantucket…

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Weekend update: May 29-31

It may be getting hotter as we officially head toward summer, but for those who might be weary of the rising temperatures, much of the activity this weekend at the fairgrounds will be indoors. A few of the highlights include weightlifting, cattle, toy trains and more: NC Strongest Man & Woman USA-Powerlifting State Championships Visitors can see more than 200 athletes compete in strongman lifting and powerlifting competitions Saturday. The competition, hosted by Train Strongman LLC and USA Powerlifting, will take place in Dorton Arena from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. ReefSMART Want to learn how to make your own…

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Deadline extended for summer state internships, including one for the N.C. State Fair

Come be part of our team!  Students, here is your chance to apply to be part of the State Fair press office, aka the Deep Fried Crew. Sounds awesome, right? Tell me more, you say… The Youth Advocacy and Involvement Office has extended its deadline to Jan. 16 for students to apply for a paid summer internship. Included in the nearly 100 internship listings is one for a public relations and social media intern for the N.C. State Fair. The internships are offered through the N.C. Department of Administration and are 40 hours a week for 10 weeks this summer. The…

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Record-setting giant pumpkin on display at the N.C. State Fair

Within two months, Danny Vester of Spring Hope had set and broke his own state record for giant pumpkins as a first-time grower. Clearly he understands a thing or two about growing these mammoth fruits. Vester has the 1,404.5-pound pumpkin on display in the Expo Center and was recently there answering fairgoers’ questions. His previous record pumpkin was 1,296 pounds, which was set in September. When that “smaller” pumpkin was weighed, Vester was happy he set the state record, but  he had his eye on another one in his 5,400-square-foot garden. “I knew this pumpkin was over 1,200 pounds, and I knew it…

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