Mythical creatures spotted

First it started with our new foods – unicorn bacon and unicorn apples. Then, we saw a few unicorns in our horticultural entries. Next, the midway was full of the colorful and mythical creatures. Finally, even our fairgoers were catching on to the trend. This was all the proof we needed – the 2018 N.C. State Fair is a magical place!  

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Gardens are a family tradition for Natasha Teasley

Walking through the Flower and Garden Show at this year’s fair, you’ll see a garden proudly displaying three ribbons. Natasha Teasley of Durham won the blue ribbon in the “Fall Beauty” garden category, the Arthur K. Pitzer award for best blue ribbon garden entry and the Commissioner’s Choice Award, given by Agriculture Commissioner Steve Troxler. Her garden features fall colors, such as plants with oranges, reds and yellows. It was judged based on creativity, quality of construction, plant materials, color harmony, textural contrast, landscape design, graphics and labeling. Teasley has been helping with gardens in the N.C. State Fair flower…

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Kachunga & the Alligator make a splash here at the fair

All the way from Florida, Kachunga, an alligator expert and “American Bushman,” came to wow fairgoers at the N.C. State Fair.  The show includes two alligator experts and of course, a feisty 7-foot alligator. Kachunga and the Alligator have been traveling across the country for the last 15 years to educate and entertain audiences about these cold-blooded creatures. The educational yet comical show presents exactly how and why alligators react to humans and other wildlife the way that they do. Kachunga explained that “alligators use their long tails as a weapon or defense because of how heavy and strong it…

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A love affair

What keeps Gail and Grant Simons at the Root Beer Cart coming back for their 32nd year at the N.C. State Fair? It’s a true love affair. “We love fairs, we love people and these are our friends,” Grant says. “That’s as good a reason as any to keep coming back every year.” Celebrating their 60th wedding anniversary, the dynamic duo is still at it, serving their famous root beer out of their red and white striped tent all over the east coast. “We start in July and go to six fairs in New York,” Gail said. “Then, we slowly…

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Giant pumpkin and watermelon set new State Fair records

A 1,551.5-pound pumpkin grown by Chris Rodebaugh of Lewisburg, W. Va. and a watermelon weighing 327.5 pounds grown by Christopher Kent of Sevierville, Tenn. took the top prizes in the N.C. State Fair’s Great Pumpkin and Watermelon Weigh-Off. Both entries shattered previous N. C State Fair records. Rodebaugh is a first-time grower, and gathered the information needed to grow his super-sized pumpkin from the internet. “I saw some entries into my local State Fair in West Virginia and thought, ‘that’s pretty neat.’ I thought I’d try to grow one myself,” he said. When asked if he’d return in 2019, he…

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Cool Runnings wins Best New Food at annual State Fair media day

Stephen and Andrea Millington have been serving up jerk chicken, tacos and pork wraps for 18 years at the N.C. State Fair. This year, the couple took top honors for best new food at the annual N.C. State Fair media day, their new jerk pork wrap with mango sauce. Most of the year, Stephen and Andrea Millington work day jobs. Stephen is an  IT technician in Durham and Andrea is an accountant in Raleigh. During the fair, they take their vacation to run Cool Runnings Jamaican food at the N.C. State Fair. Andrea is from Jamaica and many of the…

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Basnight’s is back with more local seafood

Basnight’s Lone Cedar Café made its fair debut with a bang in 2017 featuring menu items such as jumbo lump crab dip, bacon-wrapped scallops and shrimp and grits. But for Caroline Basnight, the spotlight shines on local fishermen. “We try to use ingredients grown in North Carolina for everything we serve,” Basnight said, “but there’s never been a day we’ve served anything but local seafood. Her parents opened the Nags Head restaurant in 1995, and since her mother came from a background of commercial fishing, there was never a doubt that the family would use local seafood. At Basnight’s fair…

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On-the-Spot Competitions are back with more events than ever at the NC State Fair

Good news fairgoers! Based on the popularity of the On-the-Spot Competitions at the fair, we’ve decided to ramp up the variety of events to give visitors an opportunity for daily participation. Although these competitions don’t come with money rewards, they do come with ribbons and bragging rights! Competitions were chosen based on their success and popularity at other fairs. “Many fairs host an on-the-spot event where visitors can compete, well, on the spot,” said John Buettner, competitive exhibits director. “Winners of these competitions take home a ribbon, bragging rights, and sometimes the item they were using to compete, such as…

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Science is in motion on this year’s N.C. State Fair rides

Imagine you’re on a fair ride. Do you notice how you pick up speed during slopes on the Fun Slide? What about the decreasing height of the hills on the Mighty Mouse Coaster? Do you feel like you’re being pushed outward on the Merry-Go-Round? Believe it or not, this can all be explained by scientific forces. How does this work? Laura Bottomley, the director of North Carolina State University’s K-12 engineering outreach unit, The Engineering Place, said the same concepts are behind almost every ride you go on at the fair. “It’s momentum, friction and forces in motion,” she said,…

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It’s “farm-to-fair” at Al’s Fries

Al’s French Fries has been around since 1959 as one of the oldest and longest-standing vendors at the fair. Its menu is simple: a heaping portion of hot, delicious french fries with condiments of your choosing. But what you might not expect from this fry stand is that Al’s features locally sourced ingredients straight from North Carolina farmers. For Debbie Anderson, it’s all about honoring her father’s legacy. “We’ve never strayed from what Daddy did,” Anderson said. “We still buy potatoes from Ford’s Produce, we always fry in peanut oil and we still serve Coke products.” Anderson’s father, Al Beckwith,…

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