In recent years, the multitude and magnitude of hurricanes that have hit our state have been maddening. They always seem to hit right around N.C. State Fair time, too. I guess that’s why they call it hurricane season.
While overall, our state dodged major impacts from Hurricane Dorian, sans the Outer Banks, we are all still keeping a wary eye out for another named storm. Don’t get us wrong, we aren’t just being worry warts over here. We still have much hope and excitement, especially when our thoughts go to the N.C. State Fair.
There is something about the State Fair that, despite all the craziness of Mother Nature, brings folks together. I’m not talking about the close quarters on the Midway where folks are elbow to elbow. I’m talking about the essence of the fair. It draws people. It gives them hope. It provides some normalcy. It provides excitement. It allows traditions to continue.
I have gone to the N.C. State Fair almost every year of my life…even before I showed livestock there. My mom has a scrapbook of me riding some of the rides, and sitting with Read-A-Roo at the UNC-TV tent. The Fair was the highlight of fall for me, and it still is.
Now that I’ve been involved in showing livestock for more than a decade, I’ve been able to see another side of the N.C. State Fair that solidifies it as my highlight of the fall season. Sorry Read-A-Roo, my attraction to the fair has shifted to the barns (but stayed with the food). The animals, family, friends, competition, and memories that are housed in those barns have me coming back every year. The same can be said for livestock families across the state, and come hell or high water (literally), we’ll be there.
When Matthew and Florence hit, many of our livestock families were in a bad way. Water rose. Homes were inundated. Roads were washed away, and some loss of animal life occurred as well. With heavy hearts, some didn’t make it to the N.C. State Fair in the storm years, but many did. It may have taken an extra few hours of detours to reach the fairgrounds, but they came. While no one arrived by boat, watercraft were used throughout the process as families came together to help one another. Show supplies were loaned and animals hauled for those who were hit hard by the storms—all in an effort to get them to the N.C. State Fair.
Once at the fair, a reunion takes place, as it does every single year. There are friends you don’t get to see except at the fair. During storm years, the reunion is like salve to a wound. For a few days, everything is okay. It’s normal, fun and even therapeutic.
You see, the N.C. State Fair is more than Ferris wheels, bumper cars, fried food, and Read-A-Roo. It’s coming home. The N.C. State Fair brings people together in times of fair weather and in hurricane season. It doesn’t just do this in the livestock barns, but it happens on the Midway as well. For more than 150 years, the State Fair has gone beyond providing a showcase for crafts, entertainment, or unique food. It has given families traditions, memories, friends, and at times, a refuge from the deluge of a storm. The North Carolina State Fair binds us together in ways that only it can.
So, as we keep an ear tuned into the weather station, our eyes are on Raleigh. We are ready for the reunion that the N.C. State Fair brings. We are ready for the memories, and the people, and the food. We are ready to compete. We are ready to come home to the N.C. State Fair.