Fair Fan: Jean-Marie Odom

Meet Fair fan and guest blogger Jean-Marie Odom, a brave soul who documented everything she ate at last year’s State Fair. She’s sharing her tried-and-true staples along with free samples, new offerings, and tips for Fair newcomers. Welcome, Jean-Marie!

For my husband and me, the N.C. State Fair is a time to enjoy the art of eating and the variety the Fair has to offer. When we go to the Fair, it’s a full-day event that leaves a lot of time to get hungry. In an effort to enjoy this experience to the fullest last year, I kept a list of everything I ate at the N.C. State Fair.

Cary Church ham biscuit: They’ve been serving ham biscuits at the Fair in the “lunch stands” for more than 15 years. The ham was great and salty and made my mouth burn, like good country ham should.

House Autry FREE hushpuppy: In the Commercial Building near Gate 1, House Autry always has a booth where they cook up hushpuppies, I believe, around the clock. TIP: Weigh in at the weighing station near the House Autry booth BEFORE you eat everything at the Fair and then come back to weigh in before you leave to see how well you did.

Mount Olive Sweet Gherkin Pickle: If you get the Sweet Gherkins, you get 2 pickles instead of one (because they’re smaller than the dill and sour pickles), but if there is a broken pickle in the sweet jar, they’ll throw that one in your bag, too!

FREE Tootsie Roll

FREE Caramel Popcorn sample with no Kernels: I’m not sure how they did this one, it’s like Crunch & Munch, but with no kernel. It sort of looked like a cheese puff snapped in half, but the color of popcorn. It was awesomely delicious.

Chocolate Milk (2%): The NC Dairy Association has this booth in the Scott building. Delicious and always cold.

1/2 Polish Sausage Dog: Sorry to say, I can’t remember exactly which booth we got this dog from. We halved the sausage dog. If you ask them nicely, they’ll cut it in half for you. We got onions, peppers and mustard on it.

FREE Bobee’s Honey Cotton Candy Sample

1/2 Apple Cider Freezie: Near Gate 8, near the grist mill and the lumberjack contests, is the Apple Cider booth. They have hot apple cider, cold apple cider and Apple Cider Freezies. It tasted just like biting into a fresh, juicy apple, but was the consistency of a mall Icee.

FREE Hushpuppy: I know I already listed this once, but this one was at the Grist mill. They grind the cornmeal there with the old mill and make the hushpuppies on the spot. These are the little ball type whereas the House Autry ones are the long skinny kind.

1/2 N.C. Cattlemen’s Rib eye Steak Sandwich: Who knew a steak sandwich could be so good? They are grilling up steaks at this booth near the Dorton Arena. A little A-1 made it just right. Steak – it’s what’s for dinner!

Canned Diet Pepsi

5 1/2 Mini Donuts: The mini donut booth is between the Jim Graham Building and the New Expo Center (formerly the Red Cross Building). I think I said this about something else, but ignore that comment, because this is truly THE bomb diggity. They give you 12 mini donuts about the size of a golf ball. This is sweet heaven. We won’t discuss who turned the bag up and consumed the rest of the cinnamon sugar mixture that didn’t stick to the donuts.

FREE Mini Reese’s cup

2 FREE pretzels with cream cheese dip: Over by the Scott Building they usually have a tent out front with products all from NC – “Got to be NC Agriculture.” I went for two pretzels and dipped them in two different cheese dips.

1/2 Foot long Hot Dog with Chili & Mustard

FREE 2 Handfuls of Kettle Corn

1/2 bag of Cotton Candy: It was starting to get dark, so I knew I needed to start shopping for my cotton candy. I can’t leave without it! Trust me on this one – shop around! The prices on cotton candy vary greatly.

2 Circus Peanuts

1/2 order of Cheese Fries: There was much debate about which fries to go with once it was decided we needed fries. I specifically wanted cheese on mine and the booth with the really good looking fries had no cheese. So we went to our second choice which was a booth near the Jim Graham Building whose sign boasted fried just about anything. I think they were deep frying up some cauliflower and broccoli in there, if you can believe that.

1/2 bag Cinnamon Roasted Pecans: This is the final item. Woo what a day. If you can believe it, this one almost did me in. They were really crunchy & sugary, just like I like them.

25,161 steps later, we were back at the car.

About Cotton Candy

Karlie Justus - blogged for the 2008 / 2009 N.C. State Fairs. This is her bio from 2009: When I'm not blogging for the N.C. State Fair, I go by Karlie Justus--but Cotton Candy suits me just fine. My earliest memories of the Fair are of the times my parents would bring my brother and I up from Asheville, N.C. for a double dose of the Fair and a N.C. State football game. Fast-forward two decades later, and I'm a public information officer for the deep fried celebration whose must-see Fair attractions include the giant pumpkins, decorated cakes and deep fried Oreos.

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