Merrie Go Round

Merrie Go Round is the midway alter-ego of Andrea Ashby, who has officially spent 219 days during the past 21 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.

The questions keep coming at the fair information booths

  “Where’s the bathrooms?” “Where’s the pig races?” “Where can I get tickets or redeem my ride wristbands?” Paul Brown, who mans an information booth near Gate 9,  ranks those as the top three questions he gets on a daily basis. This is Brown’s third year working an information booth and the first for Trish Boone, who is sharing the booth with him. Boone would also add to the list, “Where’s the gate that I came in?” The two pass out a lot of daily schedules with maps, and offer directions to the pig races, specific food booths, different gates,…

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Winners picked in the Heritage Tobacco Harvest Competition

Tobacco is a tradition in North Carolina, and you will find plenty of examples of this cash crop on display at the State Fair. At 2 p.m. Friday, Oct. 13, teams of three will compete in the annual tobacco stringing contest for bragging rights and cash prizes. All that tobacco plus many more sticks will fill the antique tobacco barn, where the leaves will be cured by heat during the week. On Friday, Oct. 20, there will be a mock auction simulating the old way of buying and selling stacks of tobacco bundled onto burlap sheets. You can also find…

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Ride your bike to the State Fair, and other alternative transportation options

Raleigh residents are finding more designated bike lanes around town, encouraging folks to use their bikes as a means of transportation. There is even a bike sharing-service around N.C. State University and the downtown area. Biking to the N.C. State Fair is also an option for people who live within riding distance. The fairgrounds has added new bike racks near Gate 1 at the end of the Education Building that runs along Hillsborough Street. Riders will need to bring their own locks to secure their bikes before heading into the gates for a fun day at the fair. Or you…

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Commissioner Troxler to defend his title Oct. 13 in the celebrity tobacco stringing competition

    Having grown up on a farm in the Midwest, WRAL television anchor Lynda Loveland is no stranger to farm life. But tobacco stringing was a farm task she had never tried her hand at, until 2016. Last year in front of a friendly crowd of experienced tobacco folks, Loveland took on Agriculture Commissioner Steve Troxler in the first celebrity stringing competition. Team WRAL, which also included producer Kelly Riner and guest hander and four-time champion stringer Sandy Jones, had a great cheering squad, but came up a little short in the competition. Fairgoers will have a chance to…

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A Day in the Life at the State Fair: Vendor edition

When you consider attendance numbers, on any given day the N.C. State Fair is a lot like a small town. And just like a small town, there are many people working hard every day to keep things running, keep people fed and keep folks entertained and informed. The Deep Fried blog is doing A Day in the Life at the State Fair series to give fair-goers a behind-the-scenes look at the people who make the fair happen. Today’s focus is on food vendor Chris Wrenn of Ragin’ Cajun. Food seems a logical place to start for this series since surveys show…

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10 educational ideas for teachers

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…

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See where some of your favorite foods come from at the Field of Dreams

The vegetable garden at the Field of Dreams exhibit shows helps consumers connect their food to the farm.

We all have our favorite foods, whether it’s pizza, burgers, salads or breakfast items.  Or maybe it’s a favorite meal, like Thanksgiving. Regardless of what is our favorite, everything we eat starts on a farm, raised by a farmer. Fairgoers can see ingredients that are in some of their favorite foods actually growing in the newly revamped Field of Dreams . “We wanted people to be able to make the connection between the wheat plants and the pizza crust or sub bread,” said Carl Tart, exhibit coordinator. “We are used to walking into the store and picking up a loaf…

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The Nest — THE place for official N.C. State Fair merchandise

Most State Fair visitors have certain traditions that make the fair memorable, whether it’s eating at a favorite food booth, buying a special souvenir or visiting certain exhibits. No matter if it’s their first year or their 50th, those special memories and traditions are part of what keeps visitors coming back to the State Fair year after year. We know people love the State Fair, and this year, fans and super fans alike can take home their own official piece of the fair from the new merchandise booth, The Nest. The Nest will be located in the lobby of the…

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Making memories of a lifetime one year at a time

Firecracker and I are celebrating our 20th State Fair. Yes, Firecracker started working when she was 5 years old! (hahaha…very funny.) So in honor of our 20th anniversaries, we thought it would be fun to come up with our Top 20 Fair Memories to share with readers. When I was thinking back over all the cool and fun things I have gotten to do at the State Fair, the one thing that stood out in almost every one of them is the fun I had with the people involved. And that is really what the State Fair is all about,…

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Putting science to work in judging canned goods at the State Fair

Kinsey Porter, a senior majoring in food science at N.C. State University is testing the pH level in a marmalade entry.

I’m a home canner, and I am very careful to follow the directions when I can for fear of botulism. And by very careful, I mean VERY CAREFUL; careful to the point that I get picked on by family members. But it’s OK; my motto is “better safe than sorry.” So when it comes to the folks judging the canned goods, I have wondered if everyone is as particular as I try to be. After all, the judges will be tasting them. So, come to find out, N.C. State University food science students and food safety specialist Ben Chapman test…

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