Tractor Pull is the fair-themed alias for Brandon Herring, a public information officer in the Public Affairs Division of the N.C. Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services. He's no stranger to the fair or the farm. A North Carolina native, he grew up helping on the family farm just east of Lumberton. After more than 15 years in TV news, he's sharing news of a different kind these days. He loves the rides on the fair's midway, but also loves that the fair has so many other things to see and do that are grounded in agriculture. His favorite fair food is a funnel cake with just powdered sugar - a classic!

Mead maker showcasing honey wines from sweet to dry at Got to Be NC Festival

If there’s one thing the co-owners of Retro Meadery would like you to know, it’s that mead comes in a variety of flavors, and they’re not all sweet. You’ll have a chance to taste for yourself inside the Food Lion “Local Goodness Marketplace” at the 2024 Got to Be NC Festival. This is the first time Retro Meadery, based in Burgaw (Pender County), will be at the festival. Co-owners Michael Fields and Matthew Clemmons started the business in 2020. During the isolation of the COVID-19 pandemic, they took some time to start brewing their own beer and mead, mostly as…

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Revived fairgrounds park offers fun, food and a quiet spot to sit.

Cotton Park on the fairgrounds is a special place for many visitors who consider it a destination and a pleasant escape from the hustle and bustle of the N.C. State Fair. The miniature park, with its brick walkways and landscaped setting, is between Dorton Arena and the Education Building on the southeast side of the fairgrounds. It’s also home to Casey’s Clubhouse, bordering Kiddieland near Gate 1. “To me, it’s a little out of the way and quieter, and you can find a place to sit down,” said Cathy Water of Raleigh. Water’s husband Ken grew up in a neighborhood…

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Your detailed guide to getting to the 2023 N.C. State Fair

Having a gameplan in mind can be an important part of visiting the N.C. State Fair, and planning ahead may be especially helpful when it comes to getting to and from the fairgrounds. It’s no secret the weekends are busier days to attend the fair, and traffic can be heavier as a result. A little strategy can help avoid surprises and cutdown on frustrations.Be aware there are concert events at PNC Arena on Oct. 13, 14 and 18 and road construction affecting the intersection of Hillsborough Street and Blue Ridge Road. There’s still hope for a smooth arrival and departure…

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Fairgrounds crew builds new skillet skee-ball game for GTBNC Festival

Skee-ball, skillets and fabricated fried eggs will combine for a fun new competition at this year’s Got to Be NC Festival. So, which came first, the skillet or the egg? Carolina Cooker and parent company Agri Supply, have long supported agriculture in this state, so when the State Fair team challenged themselves to dream up several new free activities for the Got to Be NC Festival’s Agri-Plaza in the Graham Building, the team dreamt up Skillet Skee-Ball, and Carolina Cooker jumped on board. Carolina Cooker is based in North Carolina and offers a variety of cookware from traditional cast iron…

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Brian Sobaski brings straw to life in front of your eyes

Brian Sobaski is bringing some unique art to the N.C. State Fair in 2022 – something you’ve probably never seen. He’s creating straw sculptures of animals, and you can watch him at work three times a day during the fair. You’ll find him beside the breezeway outside the Agri Supply Expo Center. This is the first time Sobaski has ever created his works of art while an audience is watching. He usually creates straw sculptures before an event and leaves them to be viewed after he’s gone. While he’s a bit shy naturally, he’ll happily answer questions as he works…

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A helping hand, free admission and a bacon bus combine for Smithfield Foods Hunger Relief Day

The N.C. State Fair and Smithfield Foods will once again offer free admission to people who bring six cans of nonperishable canned food to the fair. Smithfield Foods Hunger Relief Day is Thursday, Oct. 20. The day is one of the fair’s most well-known modern-day traditions. “We are so excited to join the North Carolina State Fair for the second year now as the sponsor of the Smithfield Foods Hunger Relief Day,” said Jonathan Toms, Smithfield’s senior community development manager. “The North Carolina State Fair is such an exciting time to come in and celebrate agriculture and just being together…

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accessABILITY Day brings an adapted fair experience back for 2022

accessABILITY Day returns to the N.C. State Fair on Sunday, Oct. 16. The special day, which is presented by Bandwidth, lasts from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Sunday. It’s an effort to make the fair more welcoming and inclusive for all North Carolinians regardless of ability. Many elements of the fair will be changed to be less stimulating, less distracting and generally calmer during the four hours. Kate Conner, who is a Bandwidth employee, is an advocate for accessibility and inclusiveness everywhere because her daughter is blind. So she’s a particularly big fan of accessABILITY DAY. “One of the…

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The Public House in three “E’s” – beer escape, exposure and education

Many people who go the N.C. Public House at the N.C. State Fair are simply looking for a place to relax and take a break, according to Lisa Parker, the executive director of the N.C. Craft Brewers Guild. The guild brought the Public House to the fair for the first time in 2017, and in 2021 it moved from the Heritage Circle area to the south side patio of Dorton Arena – the side toward the giant SkyGazer Ferris wheel. People who visit can escape the excitement of the midway and just enjoy a couple of craft beer samples in…

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New fairgrounds police chief settling in just in time for GTBNC festival

The N.C. State Fair has a new police chief who’s just getting settled into the job in time for the Got to Be NC Festival. Anthony “Tony” Prignano started on April 25. Technically, his job title is Public Safety and Security Chief, and it’s a shift from his decades of work in the Durham County Sheriff’s Office. “When I retired from the sheriff’s office in March at age 53, I didn’t want to just quit working,” Prignano said. “I’ve been in in law enforcement for nearly 30 years. It’s not just something that leaves your blood. When it comes to…

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N.C. wine and so much more at the GTBNC Festival

The Got to Be NC Festival brings lots of the things you love about the N.C. State Fair, such as rides and fair food favorites. There are also unique elements like the entertainment lineup, the daily tractor parades and the vendors who choose to participate each year. One thing that the GTBNC Festival offers that’s a bit different than the State Fair is the Food Lion Local Goodness Marketplace. It’s a bit like the Got to Be NC Pavilion during the fair, but not exactly. At the this year’s festival, there are about 74 vendors, and all of them will have…

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