Volunteers help enhance State Fair experiences

“What did you pick for me today,” asked Princeton High School FFA member and Field of Dreams volunteer Collin Worley to a group of kids walking up with their baskets. “Let’s see what you have.”

When visitors to the Field of Dreams walk through the exhibit and pick vegetables along the path, they take those items to the market stand where they can learn more about the vegetables.

On Sunday, Worley, a senior, was joined by sophomores Blake Martin and Mason Rosenbaum. who stayed busy talking to guests about cucumbers, sweet potatoes and turnips. For many kids, the turnips were often mistaken for an onion, but the high schoolers were patient in explaining it was a turnip and also asking if fairgoers were having a good time.

As volunteers, they help enhance the experience for fairgoers and also help them make the connection between the crops they are harvesting and the food they eat. This was the first time Worley, Martin and Rosenbaum had volunteered at the Field of Dreams exhibit, but their friendly greetings and questions quickly brought smiles to even the shyest of kids.

Student volunteers, like the Princeton High schoolers, are essential for operating the exhibit for all 11 days of the fair from start to finish. “We just couldn’t do this without their help,” said Carl Tart, exhibit organizer. “They are really good about working in any area of the exhibit that we need them to — collecting the harvested produce, replenishing the harvested crops or manning the small vehicles that kids can ride for free.”

Over in the Jim Graham Building, volunteers Elizabeth Pate and Irene Castro were manning the 12:30 to 5 p.m. shift in the Chill Out Zone that was part of accessABILITY Day presented by Bandwidth. As the event sponsor, Bandwidth employees help out with the day ensuring guests have a good time and they have access to resources like noise canceling earphones, calming toys and quiet space.

This was the second year the two Bandwidth employees have volunteered for accessABILITY Day, something they were proud about.

“It’s a great way to interact with the community and see people we don’t normally get to interact with,” Pate said.

Castro echoed that sentiment.

“I think it’s great we sponsor the day because being inclusive is a core value for our company and this day makes sure the fair is inclusive for all and it shows who we are as a company,” Castro said. “

The Chill Out Zone provides families a place outside the hustle and bustle of the fair to take a break and relax with their family, eat a snack and let their child play with toys or other sensory calming devices.

“Sometimes people need a few minutes of down time. It’s kind of like a middle of the day nap,” Pate said.

Getting to see people have a good time at the fair brings Pate and Castro joy.

Thanks to all the volunteers who help ,make the fair a success!

About Merrie Go Round

Merrie Go Round is the midway alter-ego of Andrea Ashby, who has officially spent 252 days during the past 24 years at the N.C. State Fair. That's perfect attendance in case you were wondering. In addition to promoting the Fair, looking for untold Fair stories and working on various special events, I also spend a great deal of time roaming the grounds taking photos for the Website and State Fair publications. I like to keep my eyes and ears posted for the unusual and different things that make the State Fair such a great celebration of North Carolina people, traditions and history. I look forward to sharing with you the things I come across on my journey.

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