Tractor Pull is the fair-themed alias for Brandon Herring, a public information officer in the Public Affairs Division of the N.C. Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services. He's no stranger to the fair or the farm. A North Carolina native, he grew up helping on the family farm just east of Lumberton. After more than 15 years in TV news, he's sharing news of a different kind these days. He loves the rides on the fair's midway, but also loves that the fair has so many other things to see and do that are grounded in agriculture. His favorite fair food is a funnel cake with just powdered sugar - a classic!

New fairgrounds police chief settling in just in time for GTBNC festival

The N.C. State Fair has a new police chief who’s just getting settled into the job in time for the Got to Be NC Festival. Anthony “Tony” Prignano started on April 25. Technically, his job title is Public Safety and Security Chief, and it’s a shift from his decades of work in the Durham County Sheriff’s Office. “When I retired from the sheriff’s office in March at age 53, I didn’t want to just quit working,” Prignano said. “I’ve been in in law enforcement for nearly 30 years. It’s not just something that leaves your blood. When it comes to…

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N.C. wine and so much more at the GTBNC Festival

The Got to Be NC Festival brings lots of the things you love about the N.C. State Fair, such as rides and fair food favorites. There are also unique elements like the entertainment lineup, the daily tractor parades and the vendors who choose to participate each year. One thing that the GTBNC Festival offers that’s a bit different than the State Fair is the Food Lion Local Goodness Marketplace. It’s a bit like the Got to Be NC Pavilion during the fair, but not exactly. At the this year’s festival, there are about 74 vendors, and all of them will have…

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Paul Bunyan’s Lumberjack Show still delivers after decades of fair appearances

Lee LeCaptain loves bringing the Paul Bunyan Lumberjack Show to the N.C. State Fair. It’s something he first did in the early 90’s. At that time, the show was based in Heritage Circle, and it made use of the pond there. “To me [this fair] is one of the best in the nation. I enjoy it probably better than any other state fair in the country,” LeCaptain said after a recent show during the 2021 fair. “I come here, it’s like home. It’s just very comfortable. It’s almost like here is a vacation, but I’m still working hard. I work…

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Special guest helps judge new 2021 fair foods

On the Monday before the 2021 N.C. State Fair started, a special guest joined the Deep Fried Crew’s Media Day to help judge some of the 2021 fair’s new foods. Morgan Wilder of Garner is a lifelong fan of the fair who dreamed of getting a preview of the new fair foods and getting to taste them. Her dream came true on that Monday! Her journey to joining the fair food preview began back in March. Dr. Michael Soboeiro sent the Deep Fried Crew an email with an “odd request.” It was in regards to a taste testing he heard…

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Advice from the Deep Fried rookies

The N.C. State Fair is full of surprises and hidden gems. When you work at the fair for the first time, like I did in 2019, those things add up quickly. If you’ve visited before, it’s easy to think you know pretty much everything there is to know. If you’ve visited a lot, you learn even more and find even more surprises and gems over the years. I can say I learned a lot by working at the fair and being inside the gates for all eleven days in 2019 (plus a week before opening day too). I wasn’t alone…

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Tucked into a forest, new fairgrounds building highlights natural resources & conservation

There’s a new building on the fairgrounds for 2021, and a unique element of its design could have you staring at the walls. The new building will generally be called the Natural Resources Center. It’s tucked away in the wooded area in the northwest corner of the fairgrounds, which is called the N.C. State Fair Conservation forest. In 2021, the forest is sponsored by Enviva. The area is behind the flower and garden show and Heritage Circle. That’s the area where you can find the sawmill demonstration and the Paul Bunyan Lumberjack Show. It’s also where you find Smokey Bear,…

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Several fairgrounds buildings now have ‘air cleaning technology’

Visitors to the 2021 N.C. State Fair will benefit from some technology aimed at improving indoor air quality. Several buildings on the fairgrounds now have advanced technology added to their air filtration systems. The technology comes with new equipment that’s been installed with health and safety in mind, as a direct result of the coronavirus pandemic. You could think of the new equipment as magic, but as neat as that sounds, the actual science sounds pretty neat on its own. It’s not too complicated to understand either. The new equipment adds bipolar ionization technology to the existing HVAC systems in…

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Folk Festival moves to a new “neighborhood” on the fairgrounds

“That’s where I’ve always thought it should be.” That’s the reaction Leah Catherine Seaton had when she heard the N.C. State Fair Folk Festival is moving to a new location this year. It’ll be in an area adjacent to Heritage Circle and the Village of Yesteryear. Seaton has clogged in the festival for more than 20 years, skipping a year every now and then. So it’s a good sign when someone like her gives the stamp of approval to a new location. You can tell clogging is important to her. You can hear it in her voice and feel it…

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2020 Horse Show spotlight: a dressage surprise

Jenna Smith has been riding horses on-and-off since she was about 12 years old. Now at age 23, she continues to find surprises – like the pleasant surprise to hear the N.C. State Fair Horse Shows would continue this year even if the fair did not. Her championship ribbon from the Oct. 23-25 show was a pretty nice surprise too. “Overall I think it went really well. We had some things we definitely could have improved on, but I acknowledge that I could have improved on it, so I wasn’t frustrated with whatever placing we got,” Smith said after racking…

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Flea market and other activities return as cautious fairgrounds reopening continues

Shoppers rejoice! The flea market at the N.C. State Fairgrounds has reopened, and it’s welcoming the public once again – the socially distanced, clean-handed, nose-and-mouth-covered public, of course. Officially called The Raleigh Market these days, it actually re-opened a few weekends ago for the first time since closing because of COVID-19. It will be open Labor Day weekend as usual, just not on Labor Day since that’s a Monday. The market didn’t reopen as soon as retail locations were allowed to welcome customers again though. Spokesperson Kimberly Benou said the management knew there was interest from customers and that some…

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