The N.C. State Fair isn’t just about food and rides, although those are often reasons people cite for coming to the annual event. The fair offers plenty of opportunities to learn, too, through exhibits, displays and scavenger hunts.
Here’s a Top 10 list of educational ideas for teachers and parents, too.
- Did you know we offer two scavenger hunts – a general one and a science-themed one? Print out a copy from our website or stop by the Expo Center to pick one up, and then set off on your quest for answers. Both scavenger hunts take you through many of the educational exhibits on the grounds, where you will learn more about our soil, our forests, plants, agricultural crops and livestock, and even one of our most infamous pirates – Blackbeard! When you finish, turn in the scavenger hunt in the lobby of the Expo Center for a ribbon.
- Check out the livestock in the Expo Center, including ones in the show ring. At the Avenue of Champions, you will see the winners in the youth competitions for cattle, sheep, goats, turkeys and hogs. The grand and reserve grand champions are sold during the Livestock Sale of Champions On Oct. 14. Money raised goes to the winners, with a portion going into a scholarship fund that youth competitors are eligible to apply for. Signs will tell you more about this important sector of N.C. agriculture. Be sure to watch part of a livestock show in either the Jim Graham Building, the Kelley Building or the Expo Center and learn what judges are looking for in top animals.
- Don’t miss the giant pumpkins and watermelons in the Expo Center. No, seriously, don’t miss them. These are two of the most popular horticultural attractions. Growers are often in the booth with the pumpkins and are happy to answer questions about growing these behemoths. Hint: It takes a lot of work!
- Visit the Mobile Dairy Classroom. Even the name sounds educational, so you know they can deliver on some information. Here you can see daily milkings, using modern milking equipment. Learn about where milk comes from before it gets to your grocery store or school cafeteria.
- Since this is the 150th fair, it makes sense you might want to learn a little about its history. Head on over to the schoolhouse in Heritage Circle, where State Fair historian Paul Blankinship can provide details on the early years of the fair before it was even in its current location. Spoiler alert, there are actually some military connections to the fairgrounds.
- While you are in Heritage Circle, check out the blacksmith shop to learn about turning metal into useful items such as horseshoes, latches, hinges, hooks and more. Blacksmiths will be heating metal in a forge and hammering out items while you watch.
- Learn about a heritage craft in the Village of Yesteryear. Before there were retail stores, people made decorative items for their homes, linens, soaps, candles, toys, rugs, musical instruments, furniture, pottery and many other items. Those are just a few of the things you can see daily being made by hand by crafters in the Village of Yesteryear.
- Learn how to cultivate a green thumb; not as in having a green-colored thumb, but rather as being fairly good at growing plants. The Flower and Garden show area has demonstrations every day except Oct. 16 and 19, when new flowers come in for the second and third round of show. Learn how to grow chrysanthemums and bonsai plants or how to create grape vine sculptures.
- While you are around the Heritage Circle area, head up the hill past the giant Smoky Bear to the old working sawmill. Here you can learn how trees are turned into lumber.
- Don’t miss the Field of Dreams exhibit, where you can learn about North Carolina’s top crops. There are four food-themed gardens in the exhibit where you can see plants and crops that are part of some of our favorite foods. Explore the Subs and Spuds, the Gobble Garden, Pizza Patch, Taco Town and discover what plants produce pizza sauce, pizza dough, tortillas and taco shells.