Paying tribute to the men and women of the U.S. Military and honoring their service has been the goal of the N.C. State Fair’s Military Appreciation Day since 2006. In 2014, a Military Appreciation Day Parade was held for the first time and today, it continues to be one of the best parts of the day’s events.
This year, the parade features an impressive lineup including the N.C. National Guard’s Bradley Fighting Vehicle, N.C. A&T Cold Steel Drumline, Athens Drive High School Marching Band, Casey Cardinal, Carolina Hurricanes mascot Stormy, Smokey Bear, an extensive collection of antique tractors and more than 100 re-enactors representing North Carolinians involved in military conflicts throughout history, just to name a few.
“This parade has turned out to be a not-to-be-missed part of our Military Appreciation Day,” said Sarah Ray, N.C. State Fair public information officer. “Each year the parade gets a little longer and we are very excited that we’ve added several new entries this year. Be sure to look for the parade which will be starting at 10 a.m.”
Just after the parade, the Military Appreciation Day Program will take place on the Waterfall Stage, outside of Dorton Arena, followed by a musical appearance by the 440th Army Band and the Military Uniform Revue. From their encampment on the Dorton Lawn, historical interpreters will take the stage for an educational program featuring many different uniforms worn by North Carolina soldiers throughout history. They’ll explain the different features of each uniform, why they were important for the period and how military uniforms have evolved throughout decades and wars.
Additional opportunities to explore North Carolina’s rich military history include exhibitor booths around Dorton Arena from organizations such as Submarine Vets, the USO, the U.S. Department of Veteran Affairs, Saving Grace K9s and more. Plus, the North Carolina National Guard will have an impressive display of its military vehicles set-up in the Grandstand for kids to explore.
“Military Appreciation Day isn’t the only day to salute our military’s servicemen and women. The North Carolina National Guard, United States Army and United States Marines will have booths set-up around Dorton Arena for the full 11-day span of the fair,” Ray said. “Or catch the U.S. Air Force Full Spectrum Band’s fairgrounds performance on their nationwide tour. They’ll be playing the Waterfall Stage on Friday, Oct. 14 at 5:30 p.m.”
Each day of the fair, active-duty service members, reservists, retirees, National Guardsmen and their dependents (ages 13-64) pay only $8 at the gate. Proper identification must be presented at the ticket window – see N.C. State Fair – Special Days for more information.