Thrilling Rides? Check! Indulgent Foods? Check! Live Music? Check! Check! Check!
If you’re looking for the Ultimate Girls Night Out this October, the North Carolina State Fair is the perfect destination. Not only does the fair have something for everyone to enjoy, it’s the best place to spend the day laughing and catching up with your gal pals.
When the gates open at 9 a.m., you’ll find me and my girlfriends in line for the best donuts on the fairgrounds at Peachy’s Baking Company, located just inside Gate 2. We’ll take half a dozen and head over to the picnic tables located around Dorton Arena. When it comes to Peachy’s we’re not the sharing kind–but there is plenty of time for that later. Quiet mornings on the fairgrounds will always be my favorite. With dew on the ground and a slight chill in the air, there is something magical about watching the fairgrounds come to life.
Mornings are the perfect time to say hello to the animals and browse the horticulture exhibits in the Exposition Building; explore the work of local artists on display in the Scott Building and scout out the new vendors and exhibits in the Commercial and Education Buildings. If you and your girlfriends enjoy a little friendly competition, stop by the NC Department of Agriculture Standards Division booth in the Education Building for an early morning weigh-in and swing back by at the end of the night to see who gained the most weight during your visit. Some may disagree, but we get a lot of laughs out of stepping on the scale to see who gained the most weight at the fair–and the loser buys a round of Miss Debbie’s Specialty Apples for the group! It may not sound healthy, but they say laughter makes you live longer–so we say the calories don’t count!
After checking out the exhibits, it’s time to start thinking about lunch (and dinner!). Pro tip: check out the New Foods at the Fair before you arrive and have an idea of the foods you want to try before you arrive. Let each person in your group pick one or two foods to try and let everyone get a bite, this is a cost-effective way to sample more fair foods. This year, the new foods at the top of our list are: Deep Fried Bacon Mac-n-Cheese Tacos from Bubba’s Bacon; Dillylicious Loaded Pickles from Chester’s Gators and Taters; Banana Pudding Tacos from Chick-N-Que; Cool Runnings’ BBQ Pulled Pork Bowl; Mini-Blueberry Pie (we’ll grab an apple & pumpkin too!) from Original Mineapple Pies; Chicken Bacon Ranch Waffle Stick from Waffle Chix; a Pig Mac from Woody’s; and Fried NC Flounder Tacos from Waypoint Oyster Bar. It’s a treat to try new foods, but you can’t forget the old favorites like: a fresh batch of taters at Al’s Fries; a bucket of cookies from the Cookie Cabin; a buttery ear of corn; hot (or frozen) apple cider from Heritage Circle. While you’re there, you need to grab an apple dumpling and kettle corn too!
Our next stop? Dorton Arena for the Got to Be NC Agriculture Pavilion and NC Public House. The pop-up cooking competitions and opportunity to try local NC products are two of our favorite things about the Got to Be NC Agriculture Pavilion’s new location (previously located in a tented space outside of the Scott Building). The NC Public House will host a rotating selection of breweries, wineries, cideries & craft soda makers from across North Carolina. It’s the ideal way to sample beverages from across the state and find new favorites.
There is so much to see and do and the clock is ticking. We still need to make a lap through the Village of Yesteryear. The craftsmen in the Village are some of the best in North Carolina, they have honed their craft and enjoy sharing their art with fairgoers from near and far. As the sun begins to set, it’s the best time to head to the Flower & Garden Show. The gardens are beautiful during the day, but they come alive at night with fairy lights and unique landscapes at every turn. While there, look up showtimes for Cast in Bronze Carillon, the only musical act of its kind in the world; and Ember Fire Arts, a mesmerizing fire artist from eastern North Carolina and a new act to the State Fair.
Follow the bright lights to the Midway–one of the largest in the country. The thrilling rides and games of chance are the very heart of the fair. Even if rides aren’t your thing, a walk down the midway has a magical way of transporting you right back to your childhood.
Fireworks start at 9:45 p.m. and the best spot to view them is down by the pond in Heritage Circle. Grab an hot apple cider to enjoy the show.
Your senses come to life at the fair. Around every turn is a new sight, sound, taste and smell. It’s easy to tailor your visit to fit your group of friends and guaranteed to be an experience you’ll treasure for a lifetime.