Special guest helps judge new 2021 fair foods

Morgan Wilder with her husband (left) and fair manager Kent Yelverton (right) at the 2021 Deep Fried Media Day

On the Monday before the 2021 N.C. State Fair started, a special guest joined the Deep Fried Crew’s Media Day to help judge some of the 2021 fair’s new foods. Morgan Wilder of Garner is a lifelong fan of the fair who dreamed of getting a preview of the new fair foods and getting to taste them. Her dream came true on that Monday!

Her journey to joining the fair food preview began back in March. Dr. Michael Soboeiro sent the Deep Fried Crew an email with an “odd request.” It was in regards to a taste testing he heard about and how Morgan could be a part of the event. She is a team lead medical assistant for Soboeiro at WakeMed Physician Practices, WakeMed Health & Hospitals. After months of long hours on the front lines of the COVID-19 pandemic, the cancelation of the 2020 N.C. State Fair had crushed Morgan.

“I want you to know that there is no one in our organization who is more loyal and passionate than Morgan. She has worked incredibly hard during the COVID epidemic, spending the majority of her weekends testing and then vaccinating people for the virus,” said Soboeiro. “When it comes to the State Fair, she is constantly urging everyone in the office to go. I suspect she knows the names, locations and menus of the long time food vendors as well as many of your staff.”

That email about Morgan brought about the idea to give her a special opportunity. For months, the State Fair team had been brainstorming ways to recognize the struggle we have all faced due to the COVID-19 pandemic and to honor those who have been on the front lines. So after some planning and coordination, in early July, N.C. State Fair Manager Kent Yelverton, Casey Cardinal and members of the Deep Fried Crew went to the WakeMed Garner Healthplex to surprise Morgan. [See the video below.]

“After Dr. Soboeiro’s email, we were inspired to start a new program where each year we will invite an Honorary New Foods Judge to come out to our Deep Fried Media Day and be part of the fun that is selecting our Media’s Choice Best New Food at the Fair,” said Yelverton. “We wouldn’t be where we are today without all the healthcare workers across the state who have worked tirelessly to see us through to the other side. Morgan embodies the selfless service of the entire healthcare community, and we are honored to have her join us in October as a representative of all her colleagues.”

Morgan is definitely excited about this year, just like any other. She brought her son on his first trip to the N.C. State Fair when he was just a few weeks old. Her favorite fair foods from the last few years have been shark on a stick and crack-n-cheese, a savory mix of turkey barbecue, macaroni and cheese, cracklins and barbecue sauce.

The video below highlights some of Morgan’s thoughts after getting to taste more than a dozen of the news foods at the 2021 State Fair. She even shares her pick for favorite new food.

About Tractor Pull

Tractor Pull is the fair-themed alias for Brandon Herring, a public information officer in the Public Affairs Division of the N.C. Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services. He's no stranger to the fair or the farm. A North Carolina native, he grew up helping on the family farm just east of Lumberton. After more than 15 years in TV news, he's sharing news of a different kind these days. He loves the rides on the fair's midway, but also loves that the fair has so many other things to see and do that are grounded in agriculture. His favorite fair food is a funnel cake with just powdered sugar - a classic!

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