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!

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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Paul Bunyan’s Lumberjack Show still delivers after decades of fair appearances

Lee LeCaptain loves bringing the Paul Bunyan Lumberjack Show to the N.C. State Fair. It’s something he first did in the early 90’s. At that time, the show was based in Heritage Circle, and it made use of the pond there. “To me [this fair] is one of the best in the nation. I enjoy it probably better than any other state fair in the country,” LeCaptain said after a recent show during the 2021 fair. “I come here, it’s like home. It’s just very comfortable. It’s almost like here is a vacation, but I’m still working hard. I work…

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Special guest helps judge new 2021 fair foods

On the Monday before the 2021 N.C. State Fair started, a special guest joined the Deep Fried Crew’s Media Day to help judge some of the 2021 fair’s new foods. Morgan Wilder of Garner is a lifelong fan of the fair who dreamed of getting a preview of the new fair foods and getting to taste them. Her dream came true on that Monday! Her journey to joining the fair food preview began back in March. Dr. Michael Soboeiro sent the Deep Fried Crew an email with an “odd request.” It was in regards to a taste testing he heard…

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Advice from the Deep Fried rookies

The N.C. State Fair is full of surprises and hidden gems. When you work at the fair for the first time, like I did in 2019, those things add up quickly. If you’ve visited before, it’s easy to think you know pretty much everything there is to know. If you’ve visited a lot, you learn even more and find even more surprises and gems over the years. I can say I learned a lot by working at the fair and being inside the gates for all eleven days in 2019 (plus a week before opening day too). I wasn’t alone…

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Tucked into a forest, new fairgrounds building highlights natural resources & conservation

There’s a new building on the fairgrounds for 2021, and a unique element of its design could have you staring at the walls. The new building will generally be called the Natural Resources Center. It’s tucked away in the wooded area in the northwest corner of the fairgrounds, which is called the N.C. State Fair Conservation forest. In 2021, the forest is sponsored by Enviva. The area is behind the flower and garden show and Heritage Circle. That’s the area where you can find the sawmill demonstration and the Paul Bunyan Lumberjack Show. It’s also where you find Smokey Bear,…

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