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.

After 60 years, Carl Beard still works poultry exhibit one year at a time

Guest author Robbie Bailey grew up in Raleigh, but now lives with her husband in New York City, where they are professional photographers. She still returns to Raleigh for the State Fair when her schedule allows it. The Baileys’ photographs of poultry exhibitors are on display in the south lobby of Dorton Arena. Those of us who grew up in Raleigh know that the first hint of autumn is often timed perfectly with the arrival of the North Carolina State Fair. It is a treasured yearly tradition that usually involves family, Ferris wheels, funnel cakes and fireworks. Some of you might…

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Disney Channel fans have opportunity to see the McClain Sisters perform featuring China Anne McClain

Sisters China Anne, Sierra and Lauryn McClain have been living their dream of performing since 2005, when they recorded the song “Silly Games,” which was produced by their father. The McClain Sisters are likely no strangers to fans of the Disney Channel. China Anne McClain has appeared in numerous Disney Channel shows such as “A.N.T. Farm,” “Hannah Montana,” “Jonas L.A.” and “Wizards of Waverly Place.” She has also starred in “Tyler Perry’s House of Payne” and “NCIS,” and was the winner of ABC’s “Sing Your Face Off” in 2014. China Anne is not the only actress in the group. Sierra…

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Singer-songwriter Brandy Clark offers up a wry look at life’s ups and downs

Starting this week and continuing weekly up to the start of the State Fair, the Deep Fried Crew will highlight one of the 2014 Dorton Arena entertainers. Tickets for all concerts and advance admission and ride tickets go on sale online starting tomorrow at 10 a.m. Get your tickets early to save time and money, and to reserve your seat for your favorite Dorton Arena performer. Check out this year’s lineup here. We’ll kick this weekly series off with country singer-songwriter Brandy Clark. I need to be up front with readers … I love singer-songwriters. Mary Chapin Carpenter, Nanci Griffith,…

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Got to Be NC Festival celebrates Armed Forces Day

In honor of Armed Forces Day, Agriculture Commissioner Steve Troxler will ride a special Wounded Warrior Project tractor in today’s tractor parade at 1 p.m. The black-painted 1955 WD45 Diesel Allis Chalmers tractor is a custom build by Curtis Mabe of Parkton. He built the tractor as a tribute to all military from World War II to present. It features the names of all 10,500 North Carolinian war casualties who sacrificed their lives for our freedom. “These men and women, and the sacrifices they made for our freedom, are truly our heros,” Mabe said. Come out and show your support…

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Billy Currington brings his laid-back vibe to Dorton Arena Oct. 20

Billy Currington counts six No. 1 hits amoung his first four albums, including one of my personal favorites, “People are Crazy,” a song about a chance connection between a stranger and the song’s character that turns into a stroke of good luck. In the song, the stranger is a millionaire who leaves “his fortune to some guy he barely knew,” in this case, the main character. The song finishes with the chorus, “God is great, beer is good and people are crazy.”   That type of happy ending with a twist is also found in another of his No. 1 hits,…

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Free State Fair grounds musical acts offer different experiences

No one thing makes the State Fair spectactular, it is the coming together of all the elements through the sights, sounds, smells and tastes that lets you know you are in for more than the ordinary. That’s one of the things I love about the Fair -the variety. Variety is certainly what you will get in terms of music at the State Fair. Everywhere you go on the grounds, you can hear music. Whether it is on the outdoor stages, Dorton Arena, the Folk Festival, the rides or even the vendor booths, music hangs in the air. The Bluegrass Stage in…

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Deep Fried Press Office Challenge: Showing a sheep in competition

So every year, members of the Deep Fried Crew try to do something on the fairgrounds that we have never done before. We take suggestions from our readers, but we also come up with some ideas on our own. Last year, I decided to be a crafter in the Village of Yesteryear. I spent part of the day with Bill Williams and his wife Barbara caning a foot stool. Some of our longtime readers may remember the story. After following a group of 4-H kids this summer as they prepared to show sheep at the State Fair, I was offered…

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Tips for shooting the fireworks in their new location

Many people like to end their day at the State Fair watching the fireworks over the midway. Some even bring cameras to capture the moment. Photographers who want to capture fireworks at night will want to know that the fireworks are being shot from a new location this year. Instead of being shot from the small island on the pond, the fireworks are now going off on property on Trinity Road. For perspective on the new site, if you pretend you were looking at a clock in the direction of the old location of the fireworks and the time was…

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