Folk Festival keeps a tradition of dance alive in N.C.

A pretty cool thing happened at the fair this weekend – one of those things that reminds you of North Carolina culture and makes you love the N.C. State Fair. I was on a mission to check out the leatherwork artist that Funhouse featured in a previous post here on the Deep Fried blog. I was making my way through the Village of Yesteryear in the Gov. James E. Holshouser Building when I ran into a classmate from college. More specifically, we played the same instrument in the marching and pep bands. Leah Catherine and I chatted a little as…

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Blue-ribbon winner Dianah Stewart is a name to remember

Dianah Stewart has an eye for fashion and skills that quickly wowed the judges in this year’s youth clothing competition. Stewart entered her prom dress – which she designed and sewed for her Senior Prom at South Johnston High School earlier this year. Stewart’s fancy dress won first place, Best in Show and walked away with the Charlotte Wyatt Award for youth garments. The Wyatt Award is named after long-time supervisor of the clothing and quilts division, Charlotte Wyatt. After her death in 2008 the fair implemented the award to honor her memory. The judges commented that Stewart’s dress was…

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Artist ARCY has a secret

Artist ARCY is making his third appearance at the N.C. State fair in 2019, and you can expect to see the eye-catching paint splashed style he’s become known for. “It will be my classic style that people are familiar with, highlighting elements unique to the North Carolina State Fair,” he said. In 2017, ARCY – whose name is Ryan Christenson – painted a single mural over the 11 days of the fair. This year he is painting individual smaller canvases that measure 8 feet by 12 feet (8’x12’). Each day starting at 11 a.m., you can watch ARCY working on…

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Sale of Champions Buyers Find the Livestock Program worth their investment

Every year, the best of the best in livestock are chosen as champions at the N.C. State Fair. Currently, the pens in which they are housed, stand empty, the signs above that tell who exhibited the animal stands blank. We don’t know who will be named champion. We do know that the competition will be stiff as it is every year. We know that the emotions will be intense. We know that everyone will stand around the show rings with bated breath as they wait for the judge to shake one youngsters hand. We also know that there will be…

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Invitation to a pig show turns into a business opportunity for Transylvania County girl

It was an invitation to a livestock show that turned the McNealys into a pig family. Watching her friend parade around a show ring with a pig, 9-year-old Ella McNealy was hooked, and she soon convinced her parents to let her start showing pigs. There was a definite learning curve for the Transylvania County family. Mom, Heather, grew up around horses, not pigs. But the whole family soon got behind Ella’s newfound hobby, and they all found a love for pigs. Little brother Denver even wanted to get in on the fun and started showing pigs, too. In 2018, Ella…

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Leatherwork artist Yolanda Prince joins Village of Yesteryear

Yolanda Prince has been to the N.C. State Fair twice, once with her school group and then once in 2015. This year, Prince will spend everyday at the fair as one of the craftsman in the Village of Yesteryear. “It is my first year in the Village, however, I learned my craft from the late Mike Lowe, who was a member of the Village of Yesteryear for more than 30 years,” Prince said. “I was interested in learning leatherwork and signed up for a class at the Hiddenite Crafts Center,” she said. “I was the only one that signed up…

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Fun at the Fair: Fudge Family Tradition

“Hey Grandma!” That is the greeting Wanda Loudermilk looks forward to each year at the fair. In 1962, at 31 years old, Wanda drove her station wagon into the fairgrounds and sold Amish fudge and cheese. With a recipe passed down through many generations, Wanda was unaware of the lasting impression she would carry 58 years later. “The first fair I ever attended as a vendor was the N.C. State Fair”, Wanda said, “and I loved it.” According to her daughter Rhonda, she would even cook lunch for the other vendors in her area throughout the duration of the fair….

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Branford Marsalis to make State Fair debut Oct. 21

A Grammy-winning saxophonist and composer will make his long-awaited debut at the North Carolina State Fair this year, as the Branford Marsalis quartet comes to the Homegrown Music Festival at Dorton Arena Oct. 21. Marsalis, who lives in Durham, has been a mainstay in the Jazz world for decades. The Branford Marsalis Quartet, formed in 1986, has earned five Grammy nominations over the years, with a win in 2000 for best jazz instrumental album, individual or group. That nearly three-decade span has seen the group release 16 albums of both original music and classic jazz tunes, including a 2004 concert…

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A dream come true: Dole Whip named best new fair food

It took Reggie Burnette and his brother Charles almost 20 years to become a food vendor at the N.C. State Fair. They started Tropical Delights in 1995, and now their smoothie stand is home to the 2019 “Media’s Choice Best New Food.” Members of the news and lifestyle media sampled several of this year’s new fair foods and chose the Dole Whip that Tropical Delights will be serving this year. For Burnette, being the top vote-getter was validation that brought tears to his eyes. He and his brother were born and raised in Durham and started out by setting up…

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Follow the beat to find punk-rock percussion

In case it wasn’t obvious there will be no shortage of things to see and do at the N.C. State Fair this year. Everywhere you turn you’ll find entertainment, some arts and culture or something educational and informational. You’ll likely pass by Dorton Arena, and amongst all the excitement you’ll find one of this year’s new free entertainment acts. Street Drum Corps will be performing on the north side of the arena. That’s the side toward the middle of the fairgrounds, away from Hillsborough Street. Street Drum Corps is sort of a punk rock version of STOMP – the well-known…

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