What’s new at the 2018 N.C. State Fair competitions?

If you’re looking to show off your hidden talents, at this year’s fair you can try your hand at anything from wreath design to rubber-chicken flinging. With expanded contests and diverse categories, everyone can enter for a chance at a blue ribbon.

“We’re anticipating a really good turnout,” said John Buettner, competitive exhibits director. “Tons of competitors have entered since general entries went live July 1, and we’re expecting a lot more.”

General competition favorites are returning this year and some are expanding, including an even bigger Flower and Garden Show with more flower and wreath arrangement categories. The Decorated Cookies competition will feature a new theme that adds royal icing to the mix, and youth bakers from ages 4 to 12 can now enter the cupcake competitions in three age brackets. The giant pumpkins and watermelons are moving to the grandstand for the big weigh-off at 4 p.m. on Oct. 11, which will make it easier for fairgoers to watch.

“If you’ve never seen how a big pumpkin or watermelon is moved and weighed, you definitely don’t want to miss this,” Buettner said.

August brings even more competition entry opportunities, with both graphic design and livestock entries going live at 5 p.m. on Aug. 1. This year’s design entries are open to elementary, middle and high school students as well as teachers, and the art should aim to represent the unique style and imagery of North Carolina. The 2018 livestock entries also include a wide variety of categories, such as open beef cattle, performance market hog and youth dairy goats.

“I’m excited to see the amount of kids who enter the junior categories for livestock this year,” said Cole Younger, dairy goat superintendent. “North Carolina youth are pretty darn active and committed to the industry.”

While the wine competition entries closed July 9, fairgoers can watch the best of show live judging on Oct. 15. This marks the first year that wine judging will be shown on the fairgrounds. Other highlights include the Great American Spam Championship with an island-inspired recipe theme, and the second annual Pre-Engineering Mobile Robotics Contest where middle and high school students can build robotic projects and develop programs.

The 2017 winners of the robotics contest, Kamryn Bivens and Greeley Hibbard of Lee County High School, are ready to compete again this year and design their robot “from the ground up.”

“We were shocked that we could accomplish something like that — it was a breathtaking moment for sure,” Bivens said. “We can’t wait to do it again this year.”

But the most recent addition isn’t limited to robotic engineers or expert pumpkin-growers – there will be new walk-up contests every day in the Education Building ranging from sugar cube building to a milk mustache contest. Prizes and ribbons will go out to all winners, and there will be age categories and team events.

“We’ll even have an ice cream eating walk-up contest,” Buettner said. “As long as there are kids in the crowd willing to participate, we’ll keep them going.”

Find out more information in the 2018 State Fair Premium Book including specific deadlines and judging criteria at www.ncstatefair.org.

About Teacup

Hey there! I'm Teacup, otherwise known as Molly. I'm a rising senior at UNC-Chapel Hill majoring in media and journalism and I'm so excited to work as the new public relations intern here this summer! I believe there's nothing better than the sense of community the State Fair so effortlessly brings to all its attendees, though the teacup ride and caramel apples come as close runner-ups.

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