One of the cherished parts of the N.C. State is the thousands of competitions and the hundreds of ribbon-winners scattered amongst the grounds and exhibit halls. Each of these areas is run by their own fair superintendent that oversees the categories, judging and display of entries and ribbon winners. Each year the fair awards a superintendent that has gone above and beyond as its Superintendent of the Year. This year, Sandra Dunbar of Wake Forest , superintendent of Handicrafts and Hobbies, was awarded this honor. Commissioner Steve Troxler and Agri Supply President Barry Partlo, who sponsors this award, presented her with a check and certificate for her efforts this year.
“There is a level of complexity to the Handicrafts and Hobbies department because of the variety of skills represented,” said Kent Yelverton, fair manager. “The department includes everything from pottery to woodworking to Legos and more. Sandra has done a great job juggling staff and judges for all of these disciplines while maintaining a positive attitude.”
Dunbar’s first year as superintendent was in 2019. The department saw a number of entries shrink during Covid, however this year there has been renewed interest. “We have seen our basket entries increase,” said Dunbar. ” There has also been renewed interest in metal working and a lot of 3D printed items came in.” Next year, she hopes to add a barn quilt category to the exhibit.
Dunbar’s four children grew up showing sheep and cattle at the fair. In 1998 they started entering the Handicrafts and Hobbies department. “Over the years I would bring in so many items that they would always joke that one day they were going to put me to work,” Dunbar said. “But even before I worked here the fair was like my family. I was blown away that the staff knew us and my kids. Coming to be superintendent of Handicrafts and Hobbies was like going to a family reunion.”
When she is not working at the Fair, Dunbar is teaching classroom and behind-the-wheel driver’s education for Jordan Driving School for Wake County Public Schools. It is another job she is passionate about. This year she was named National Drivers Ed Instructor of the Year. Her job keeps her super busy every day but she works her annual fair time into her schedule as does many members of her family. “My husband is the athletic director for Wake Forest High School so he doesn’t have the opportunity to come out to the fair as much since it is football season for him,’ she said. ‘But all of my kids and daughter-in-law work at the fair. It is what we do as a family. It’s our way of life.”
“Sandra is great and she has a great family,” said John Buettner, N.C. State Fair competitive exhibits director. “They all get what the fair is about.”
The Handicrafts and Hobbies exhibits are on display during the fair in the Commercial and Education Buildings.