N.C. Forest Service Conservation Forest – Newly expanded and fun for all ages

We said Big Smokey Bear and we meant it! he’s pretty easy to spot in the woods.

The N.C. Forest Service Conservation Forest at the State Fair is one of the lesser known, but most magical areas of the fairgrounds – a hidden gem, if you will. With the new entrance at Gate 7, where shuttle riders from the Cardinal lot will be dropped off, we wanted to introduce fairgoers to what you can see and do in the area.

Fairgoers can access the free Cardinal parking lot off Highway 54. Once parked, hop on the free shuttle that will take you to Gate 7.

Once inside the gate, you can follow the paved path up the hill to be greeted by Big Smokey, check out the historical steam-powered sawmill and catch a fair favorite, the Paul Bunyan Lumberjack Show and log run. Show times are 10:30 a.m., 1 and 4:30 p.m. Log run times are at noon, 2:30, 6, and 7:30 p.m.

The energetic and engaging Paul Bunyan Lumberjack Show and the separate Log Run are fair favorites.

North Carolina has a rich history in forestry–its forestlands have a significant influence on the state, providing economic value and adding immeasurably to the quality of life for residents. The Forest Service exhibits help showcase this vital industry.

New this year, the N.C. Forest Service’s Touch-a-Truck experience is a chance for fairgoers young and old to climb in and explore the heavy equipment foresters and rangers use on a daily basis. Climb into the N.C. Forest Service’s Type 4 and Type 6 engines, Flex Trac and Crawler Dozer and find out what each piece of equipment is used for. Inside the stationary, bright yellow 1960s Huey UH1H helicopter, don’t miss the interactive simulated helicopter ride or the chance to explore the cab of a fire tower.

Check out the Huey UH1H helicopter as part of the N.C. Forest Service exhibits.

Stop by the Firewise Building to discover the many diverse ecosystems throughout North Carolina and learn what the N.C. Forest Service does to keep our woodlands healthy and combat wildfires. The building is thoughtfully constructed to highlight simple decisions you can make as a homeowner to prevent wildfires from starting and spreading around your own home.

Also new, Story Time with Smokey Bear is designed for all ages to teach wildfire prevention, North Carolina forest resources and the importance of conservation. The newly built amphitheater nestled into the edge of the pond at Heritage Circle is the perfect place to meet and learn from Smokey Bear.

After story time, head up the hill to the Robert “Bob” Stanfield Natural Resources Center to meet forest rangers, pick up your own pine seedlings to plant at home and explore the many programs and services the N.C. Forest Service provides; including how to improve your forested property with a woodland plan and how you can help keep invasive insects and plants from affecting your home and property. 

Staff with the NCFS’ Forest Health section talked with visitors about forest pests.

Not only will you find forestry exhibits in the Stanfield Natural Resources Center, but you will also find plenty of information on North Carolina soils from the Division of N.C. Soil and Water Conservation and the N.C. Association of Soil and Water Conservation Districts. Did you know there are Soil and Water Conservation Districts in all 100 N.C. counties and that North Carolina is the birthplace of soil and water conservation thanks to Anson County native Hugh Hammond Bennett? Learn more about the over 400 different soils types in North Carolina and efforts to conserve it and our water resources.

Outside exhibits and the Firewise building in the Forest Service area are open daily from 9 a.m. to 6:30 p.m. Touch-a-truck sessions will be available daily from 10 a.m. – noon and 3 p.m. – 5 p.m. These sessions are subject to change based on staff availability. Exhibits inside the Robert “Bob” Stanfield Natural Resources Center are open daily from 9 a.m. to 9:45 p.m.

About Sweet Corn

I'm Tyson, but here you can call me Sweet Corn. Growing up, some of my favorite memories include visiting the N.C. State Fair every year with my family. In 2015, I joined the staff as a Marketing & Promotions Assistant for the fairgrounds. Five years later, life led me down a different career path. Now, I live on the coast of North Carolina, but return to Raleigh each October to take in the sights and sounds of the North Carolina State Fair. If you're looking, you'll find me in Heritage Circle with a cob of roasted sweet corn in one hand and a frozen apple cider in the other!

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