On the road again to a county fair

Did you know that North Carolina has 44 Agricultural Fairs across the state? You may know them as “county fairs,” and part of my job (when I’m not planning the new Green NC exhibit at the State Fair) is to visit each fair, with the help of my colleague Nikki Berryman, during the busiest of seasons – Fair season!

Now, there are a lot of festivals and carnivals that take place throughout the year, but North Carolina’s Agricultural Fairs are different.

Each fair is licensed to operate by the Commissioner of Agriculture, and is dedicated to improving the awareness of our state’s agricultural activities by encouraging groups like 4-H and FFA (Future Farmers of America) and local residents to compete in agricultural-based competitions, livestock shows and exhibits. The rows and rows of prize-winning vegetables, flowers and homemade crafts are just part of the competitions I’m referring to.

So, today I am on the road again to the Hickory American Legion Fair in Newton, and tomorrow I’ll pay a visit to the Alamance County Agricultural Fair in Burlington. I’ve visited four fairs so far this season, and I look forward to each trip because there’s something new to see every time. Some fairs offer free admission, some have unique events like a lawnmower race and some focus on livestock competitions. Attendance ranges from 350,000 visitors to just a few thousand.

My job is to meet with the fair manager, check out the agricultural competitions and encourage all fairs to showcase a variety of animals.

For some people, an Agricultural Fair is the only chance they get to see a live cow or chicken!

I’ll ask about new entertainment acts, improvements to the fairgrounds and what the fair is doing to bring visitors back each year.

And I may spend a minute or two eating a funnel cake…but then I’m right back on the job!

No matter where you live in North Carolina, from Macon County in the mountains to Chowan County on the coast, there’s a fair near you. Here’s a brochure with a map of each fair location, and the dates you should mark on your calendar.

I’ll see you at the fair!

About Blue Ribbon

Natalie Alford blogged for the 2009-2011 N.C. State Fairs. This is her bio from 2009: I work at the Fairgrounds year-round, so I'm always in the middle of the fun! During the Fair, I work with the press office team to organize events and exhibits, and log a lot of miles on my pedometer. I'm also the County Agricultural Fairs Coordinator, which means I license, promote and visit North Carolina's agricultural fairs and enjoy thousands of blue ribbon entries every year. I hope to see you at the Fair!

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