Branford Marsalis to make State Fair debut Oct. 21

A Grammy-winning saxophonist and composer will make his long-awaited debut at the North Carolina State Fair this year, as the Branford Marsalis quartet comes to the Homegrown Music Festival at Dorton Arena Oct. 21. Marsalis, who lives in Durham, has been a mainstay in the Jazz world for decades. The Branford Marsalis Quintet, formed in 1986, has earned five Grammy nominations over the years, with a win in 2000 for best jazz instrumental album, individual or group. That nearly three-decade span has seen the group release 16 albums of both original music and classic jazz tunes, including a 2004 concert…

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A dream come true: Dole Whip named best new fair food

It took Reggie Burnette and his brother Charles almost 20 years to become a food vendor at the N.C. State Fair. They started Tropical Delights in 1995, and now their smoothie stand is home to the 2019 “Media’s Choice Best New Food.” Members of the news and lifestyle media sampled several of this year’s new fair foods and chose the Dole Whip that Tropical Delights will be serving this year. For Burnette, being the top vote-getter was validation that brought tears to his eyes. He and his brother were born and raised in Durham and started out by setting up…

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Follow the beat to find punk-rock percussion

In case it wasn’t obvious there will be no shortage of things to see and do at the N.C. State Fair this year. Everywhere you turn you’ll find entertainment, some arts and culture or something educational and informational. You’ll likely pass by Dorton Arena, and amongst all the excitement you’ll find one of this year’s new free entertainment acts. Street Drum Corps will be performing on the north side of the arena. That’s the side toward the middle of the fairgrounds, away from Hillsborough Street. Street Drum Corps is sort of a punk rock version of STOMP – the well-known…

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From racecars to guitars – Kyle Petty brings a songwriter’s circle-style to Heritage Circle

As a fan of music and fan of all things North Carolina – I look forward each year to the release of the Homegrown Music series put together by Deep South Productions. This year, a name on our list for Heritage Circle performers stuck out – Kyle Petty. I know the name as a member of one of North Carolina’s pre-eminent racing families – but I didn’t know he played music. Petty competed in more than 800 races in his 31-year career, posting 173 top ten finishes and eight wins. He was named NASCAR Illustrated Person of the Year in…

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American Aquarium opens Dorton Arena concert series on Oct. 11

American Aquarium was set to open the 2018 N.C. State Fair, but severe threatening weather postponed the bands’ debut on the Dorton Arena stage. Jumping ahead to 2019, fairgoers can see the latest lineup of the Raleigh-based band on Thursday, Oct. 24, in Dorton Arena. The long-awaited show will feature the alternative country sound that has drawn critical praise and comparisons to Bruce Springsteen and a former Raleigh band, Whiskeytown. The following is adapted from a Deep Fried Blog post from 2018: “Tough times don’t last, but tough folks do.” BJ Barham, front man of American Aquarium, lives those words….

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Stilt walkers will bring unexpected fun, including a high-five

One of the new attractions at this year’s N.C. State Fair may not be something you put on your to-do list at the fair, but it could certainly bring you a few surprise moments of enjoyment. “We like to call it walking visual art,” said Star Child, one of the stilt walkers you’ll see when Stilt Circus makes its first appearance at the fair this year. She and Richard Dalton will be roaming the fairgrounds in some spectacular costumes, so running in to them will likely be an unexpected but welcomed encounter. Of course, you’ll have to look up to…

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Scholarship Highlight: Mason Blinson–Seeker of Opportunity

Nothing is worse than missing an opportunity that could have changed your life. Below is a profile of Mason Blinson, a N.C. State Fair Youth Scholarship recipient that has shown sheep, pigs and cattle at the N.C. State Fair for many years. Mason is the daughter of Beth and Bryan Blinson of Buies Creek, NC. No one can accuse Mason Blinson of turning down a good opportunity, and because of her willingness to try new things, visit new places, and utilize the talents she’s been given, Mason has been able to experience some pretty awesome things. Mason is a senior…

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The N.C. State Fair guide to groups – five tips to planning the perfect trip for your work, school or church group.

The fair can be a great group activity for office bonding, student groups, church youth group, neighborhood associations or other clubs. Here’s a few tips to help plan a group outing to the N.C. State Fair. Buy your tickets in advance! If you are buying for a group of adults it is usually pretty easy to make it to the 40 adult tickets needed to purchase at the $8 each group rate. The group rate for 40 child tickets is $4 per ticket. More information on group ticketing is available online. Settle on a meeting spot. We recommend the Tobacco…

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Wilmington-native Charlie Daniels returns to Dorton Arena as Devil Went Down to Georgia celebrates 40 years.

If you ask Charlie Daniels, he will tell you that going on stage in his home state is always special. The Wilmington native and graduate of the former Goldston High School in Chatham County has played during the Fair in Dorton Arena five times since 1988. His memories of the fair go back a lot farther. “My earliest memories of the N.C. State Fair was coming with my FFA group,” Daniels said. “I remember when we visited the new building, which at the time was Dorton Arena (built in 1952). We would have a good time walking around and seeing…

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State Fair offers up a lot for families to do – tips to plan your trip

From many kids’ point of view, the State Fair might just represent the absolute best place on Earth. It’s bright, bold and colorful; there’s music and crazy foods you won’t see anywhere else; the grounds teem with free entertainment that makes you laugh, inspires you to dream and sometimes just begs you to suspend disbelief; and then there are the games and rides. Even as a self-proclaimed “big kid,” I still find it to be a magical, energizing place. If you are bringing the family, here are a few/10 tips to consider to maximize the fun. Tips 1-4 are for…

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