North Carolina State Fair
“Nothing Could Be Finer”
Facts and Figures
Address: 1025 Blue Ridge Road, Raleigh, NC 27607
Attendance: 1,000,000 +/- people annually, average total attendance
Dates: October 15-25, 2020 (subject to cancellation due to COVID-19)
Hours: 9:00am – 9:00pm
Phone: (919) 821-7400
Management: North Carolina Department of Agriculture & Consumer Services
The North Carolina State Fair is an annual fair and agricultural exhibition hosted at the N.C. State Fairgrounds in Raleigh, NC in mid-October every year. It draws nearly 1 million attendees each year, coming from all over the state of North Carolina and out of state. It is managed by the North Carolina Department of Agricultural and Consumer Services, with large involvement by North Carolina 4-H Youth Development through NC State University. It includes agricultural and educational exhibitions, livestock shows, kiddie rides, live entertainment, and homemade fair food made fresh daily on site. The N.C. State Fair is a fall family tradition for many families across North Carolina and beyond.
Professionally, I have direct involvement with the N.C. State Fair every year, working full-time with North Carolina 4-H Youth Development through NC State University. This includes setting up and staffing our North Carolina 4-H Camps & Centers exhibit inside the Educational Building, as well as helping staff our 4-H exhibit inside the Educational Building during the course of the fair each year. This is my favorite time of the year, aside from our 4-H summer camp season.
Personally, my family attends the N.C. State Fair at least once every year as a family. Several years we have attended more than once. We have attended with extended family on both sides and just our immediate family. The N.C. State Fair is a fall family tradition for us.
The N.C. State Fair is one of the events I look forward to the most every year here in North Carolina. From the smells of fried fair food, to the screams of children riding kiddie rides, to the sights and sounds of animals, exhibits, and live entertainment, I love everything about the N.C. State Fair!
A typical day at the N.C. State Fair begins by parking along Beryl Road in designated parking areas, which is free and only a short walk to the Educational Buildings entrance to the fair. While there are several paid parking lots along Beryl Road, ranging from $5 to $20, we choose to park for free along the road. Just be sure to park in areas designated for parking. Once we park, it is less than a mile walk to the Educational Buildings entrance. A stroller or backpack child carrier make it easier to walk.
Once we get in the gates, we usually start in the Educational Buildings to check out all of the great 4-H exhibits from youth across the state, ranging from art to photography. There are also many private exhibitors selling and showcasing a wide variety of items to enjoy, including sweets and treats like baked goods, candy sticks, and giant licorice. After exploring the Educational Building, we make our way out to the Kiddie rides and get a few rides in with our kids, before it gets too crowded. After that, we make our way to see the live animals inside the Exhibition Building. Typically, by that time it’s lunch time, so we like to take a break towards the back (North) of the fairgrounds, where the bluegrass bands play. There are plenty of chairs to sit on, so we will enjoy a combination of picnic lunch and fair food, such as fried turkey legs, kettle corn, and hot sandwiches. After lunch, we usually head back to ride more Kiddie rides and use up the remainder of our pre-purchased ride tickets. We will often finish with a cup of Howling Cow ice cream, produced by NC State University, one of the few places in Raleigh you can purchase it besides campus.
Overall, the N.C. State Fair is a favorite fall family tradition for us, which I included in my Fall Favorites Around the Triangle article I wrote for Carolina Parent Magazine, published in September 2019. While the status of the N.C. State Fair is up in the air at the time of writing this due to COVID-19, it is my hope that at least some of the N.C. State Fair will be able to be experienced in 2020, whether in-person or virtually.