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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Giants among us: What it takes to grow giant fruits

The N.C. State Fair showcases a variety of fruits and vegetables from across the state each year. The stars of the show; however, are the giant pumpkins and watermelons.  Brandon Huber, a North Carolina State University doctoral student, has always been fascinated by plants, especially those that can grow really large. The Philadelphia native has grown competition-quality giant pumpkins for ten years now, adding watermelons to his agenda once moving to North Carolina. Over the years, Huber has managed to produce several impressive giants. Huber’s largest pumpkin weighed in at 667 pounds, while his largest watermelon was 170 pounds. Huber’s…

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2020 NC State Fair Youth Livestock Scholarship Announced

26 individuals were selected as recipients of this year’s NC State Fair Youth Livestock Scholarship. The scholarship is funded through proceeds of the NC State Fair Sale of Champions. This year, more than $53,000 in scholarships were awarded. Thanks to the support of buyers and sponsors of the N.C. State Fair Sale of Champions, more than two dozen students will have some of the financial stress of college eased. Showing livestock prepares youth for their future by teaching them responsibility, hard work, good sportsmanship, dedication, and discipline that will help them succeed in college and future careers. Showing livestock also…

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First-time Turkey Showman Wins Grand Champion

In honor of National Turkey Lovers’ Month, we wanted to highlight one of our turkey showman. This is Hattie Jo’s story. Every year, feathers fly in a large white tent by Gate 2 at the NC State Fair. Youth between the ages of five and 18 flock together to show turkeys that they have raised over the summer. While the Youth Market Turkey Show is similar to other livestock shows in that youth learn responsibility, hard work, and other life skills, the turkey show also stands apart from the other shows in unique ways. Hattie Jo Powell, 14, can attest…

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Fair food for the family

The Beaver family has actively been serving N.C. State Fair goers for about 50 years now. Their business, Old Style Foods, can typically be found at many fairs across the southeastern United States. In the wake of COVID-19, the Salisbury natives wanted to find a way to continue serving their North Carolinian supporters in a safe manner. Troy Beaver, the grandson of Old Style Food’s founder, said his father, Jeff, was eager to implement this project after seeing it done successfully elsewhere. “My dad had a friend who did a similar event in New York at the state fairgrounds there,…

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Cleanup with Casey

Wondering what’s been going on at the fairgrounds? Look no further, Casey Cardinal and his friend, Assistant Fair Manager James Romer, gave us a behind-the-scenes look at the renovations taking place at the fairgrounds. Due to COVID-19, nearly 200 scheduled events at the fairgrounds have been canceled so far this year.  With extra time on his hands, Romer has been busy with N.C. State Fairgrounds staff improving the grounds in preparation for the 2020 N.C. State Fair. The fairgrounds crew have checked many things off their to-do list so far, like spreading mulch, painting, repairing livestock pens, and pruning and…

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More than One Way to Show Livestock: Virtual Shows Provide Opportunity for NC Youth

When it became apparent that spring livestock shows across North Carolina would be canceled due to COVID-19, youth were heart-broken. Livestock shows are a special time to not only compete with animals they have worked so hard with, but is also a time exhibit their skills and knowledge and see close friends. Livestock shows, whether the NC State Fair or local spring shows, hold a special place in the hearts of these passionate youth and their family. Knowing just how important these shows are to youth and the positive impact these shows have on their lives, people came together in…

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NC State Fair, Where Dreams Come True

For the sixth year, Ashton Seal and his family drove from Mount Airy to Raleigh to show pigs at the NC State Fair. Like any other year, they were excited to show pigs and see friends, they were also holding their breath ever so slightly. They had a dream of winning the champion banner. This was a dream they had held for years. Many show families have that dream. Perhaps it is fair to say that almost everyone who participates in showing livestock at the NC State Fair comes to the ring with bated breath, a hope filled heart, and…

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Showing Livestock in a Pandemic: Going Virtual

Under normal circumstances, youth all over the state would be wrapping up their spring shows. This year, things look quite a bit different, leaving many youth disappointed. Because of the COVID-19 situation, counties all over made the difficult decision to cancel spring livestock shows. Many of these shows have been going strong for 80 plus years, so having to cancel was more than disappointing for youth signed up to compete in 2020, but it was also disappointing for alumni and communities that are historically involved. Much like the NC State Fair livestock shows, the spring shows bring people together—communities, businesses,…

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The Heart of a Showman

In honor of Valentine’s Day, a day reserved for love and filled with heart, here is a peak into the love and heart of a showman. Look past the boots, past the show shirts, past the belt buckles. Look beyond the goat, pig, cow, sheep, or turkey. Look closely. There you will see the heart of the showman. We want our kids to be genuinely good people. People that care, think, and work hard. We want our kids to grow up and be leaders for the future. This is probably one thing, at least, we can all agree on. While…

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