N.C. State Fair manager Kent Yelverton has always had a strong love of agriculture. Growing up on a family farm, Kent has spent many hot summer days working in the fields with his family growing and harvesting a variety of row crops. Although college at N.C. State almost took him in a different direction, graduating with a degree in engineering, the call of agriculture spoke to his heart and brought him back to his roots.
Kent started his career at the N.C. Department of Agriculture at a young age, working as a consulting engineer in the markets division. In 2001 he was promoted to become the first division director of Property & Construction, a brand new division at that time. Although Kent has always loved his position in agriculture, he never imagined it would drive him to become the manager of the largest and most anticipated fall event in the state. “I remember coming to the N.C. State Fair with my family growing up and loving all the agriculture exhibits, great food and fun rides,” he said, “but I never imagined that I would have the responsibility and honor of bringing it to fruition.”
After managing four N.C. State Fair’s, Kent still enjoys being a part of the process that brings a smile to many people’s faces. “My favorite part of the fair each year is watching people enjoy it and seeing the joy on their faces as they walk around, especially the children,” he said, “knowing that I had a hand in that process that will create a lasting impression and memory in their minds is a great blessing.”
A typical day in Kent’s life can vary from season to season, but planning for the State Fair never stops. “Honestly, we will start planning the 2022 fair next week,” Kent said. “People don’t realize how much thought, effort and planning goes into the N.C. State Fair each year, but we live and breathe this fair 365 days a year.” From choosing the theme to securing the vendors and growing the giant pumpkins, fair staff and partners work hard every day to bring you the best fair each fall!
“Overall, I am very satisfied with the 2021 N.C. State Fair,” Kent said, “we had a great turnout for attendance and I saw many smiling faces each day.” Over 821,000 people attended this year’s N.C. State Fair according to recent numbers!
Planning for the 2021 fair was one day at a time for Kent and his team due to the challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic. However, Kent knew from the beginning that he wanted to provide a fun and safe time for people this fall. “We have all had such a hard year that the fair was needed now more than ever,” he said, “a lot went into planning this year not only to ensure excitement and fair fun, but also safety for visitors, including hand sanitizer stations.” From new fair foods, including a mac-and-cheese stuffed turkey leg, to new rides, like the spider wheel, the 2021 N.C. State Fair was truly Worth The Wait and brought the joy back to many lives and faces.
Now it’s time for Kent and his team to start planning the 2022 fair, taking place October 13-23. “The fun never stops,” he said, “we are very appreciative to everyone who came out this year and we can’t wait to see you all again next year for another great time at the N.C. State Fair!”