Festival Coverage

N.C. State Fair: Foods, Music and Doggy Desserts?

Welcome one, welcome all to my glorious writings about North Carolina’s State Fair. I will regale thee with tales of scrumptious foods, boisterous bands and even look longingly at puppy treats.

Lil’ History:

Here’s a teeny bit of the purpose of North Carolina’s State Fair:

“…the State Fair has become a traditional fall-time event that aims to educate all North Carolinians about the importance of agriculture to our heritage and our economy”

From NC State Fair’s website.

Not only does it educate us about the state’s agricultural history, but it promotes community involvement with it too. With many interactive exhibits like watching livestock prize shows, learning about the agri-business throughout the years in history exhibits and witnessing prize crops being showcased, any fair-goer can experience the amount of wealthy pride exuding from contestants and farmers alike. 

What’s a WKNC music blog writer supposed to enjoy about agriculture? Well, local food and business influence the ways people think, especially budding and current local musicians. In a far-fetched way that somehow connects in my mind, I can see the way local bands are influenced by their surroundings. 

Look at Wednesday and Indigo de Souza, two of the biggest North Carolinian names in music (we’re going to forget about DaBaby), but both arose with unique sounds and flavors originating from NC’s country, modern, hippie town of Asheville thanks to the special culture brewed there. 

Back to the State Fair:

There is tons to do there. The State Fair’s got everything set up for ten whole days of running from nine in the morning until eleven or twelve at night every single day. The daily schedule shifts and flows from day-to-day and going one day would result in a different experience compared to the next.


So, let us set the scene: it was a glorious Friday afternoon, the second day of the fair, and as it was around lunch time, I decided the first thing I must do is find sustenance. It’s not easy to find food at the fair. No, sorry, let me rephrase that, it’s not easy to choose which of the hundreds of in-your-face smells to let fill your tummy. 

I walked around a ton before landing at my first meal, andI saw beautiful smiling faces captivated by comfort foods shoved in a fryer, then on a stick, then into their mouths. Exorbitant amounts of food sailed around and around, passing through grills, hands, more hands, then mouths. It’s a beautiful scene of what we all happily share together, a need for delightful nourishment. 

My first purchase of the day was an unmemorable country ham sandwich. Now usually, I go for vegetarian options wherever and whenever I can, but I had a strong urge to get a delightful salty piece of chewy meat down my gullet.

It was okay. The biscuit was crumbly and nothing more than a competent vehicle for the country ham to reach my mouth. The ham itself wasn’t even stereotypically salty. Tougher than horse hide, I had to chew too much to get small bites down my throat. 

Up next was a true delight; a Fair food, no, a street food that has become internationally significant to many people, falafel. I went to the “Neomonde” stand to get my falafel pita wrap. These fried chickpea balls of golden, crispy goodness warmed my heart as it was paired with pickled red onions, a topping incomparable to pickles or relish on a burger or hotdog. 

Falafel pita wrap from Neomonde. Photo and bite taken by author.

The only downside to this pita wrap was how surprisingly filling it was for me. I intended to eat a lot more food during my walk-abouts and general enjoyment of fellow fair goers, but my stomach was full so I did my best to digest…


…And listen to live music of course. During my stay of about five hours at the Fair, I was able to see two performances at the “Live and Local Music Stage”, which can be easily located on the map to the fairgrounds.  

The first performance I saw was Teens in Trouble, a local Raleigh band full of folks living in the area. Their lead singer, Lizzie Killian, presented the very small audience with lovely vocals and lively atmosphere. I wish there were more folks around to enjoy the woozy, melodic vibes emanating from Teens in Trouble. 

Teens in Trouble performing at NC State Fair. Photo by author.

They played one of Killian’s solo tracks, “I Wonder What You’re Doing Now” off their EP released last year. It’s a sweet, acoustic track that is perfect for the Fall. Teens in Trouble has a new release coming out early next year that we can all look forward to. 

After Teens in Trouble, was Christian James, a Raleigh native who appeared on WKNC’s “The Lounge”, which is a great way to see recorded performances of artists that come into our radio station to give us a taste of their sounds. 

On the stage at the Fair, James performed “Junie B. Jones”  and a few of his other tracks that I unfortunately didn’t get the names of. I really enjoyed James’ energy they provided on stage. With a limited number of people in the audience, he brought smiles to the few who were enjoying the show, including myself. They were a very charismatic group of characters on the stage and it was fun to watch the show unfold.

Home Chef Competition:

It was quite toasty sitting out there in the sunlight, drinking up all I could of the wonderful live music, but I needed to escape the heat, so I walked right next door to the Got to Be NC Pavillion to enjoy some shade. There were tons of local vendors selling everything from popped rice biscuits to local water. Everything had to do with food here, and I felt like I was in heaven. 

A talented chef from Asheville was on a large stage in the center of the arena making a delicious smelling meal of pulled pork and coleslaw to a few lucky volunteers. I stayed and watched for a bit, but my attention was dragged away by the illustrious Home Chef Competition happening just in the entryway of the arena. 

On the day I was there, the competition was based on doggie birthday cakes. What I witnessed had to have been the most lavish puppy treats and creations I’ve ever seen. One contestant presented the judges with a charcuterie board of homemade dog treats including a pet friendly martini, fresh strawberries, cucumbers and assorted doggie baked goods. Even the judges were drooling over it. 

Another contestant submitted a cartoonish looking burger the size of a bowling ball meant for one or two lucky pets to enjoy. I’m not even sure a dog the size of Cujo could have eaten that thing in one sitting.

Walkin’ ‘Round Again:

I got my fill rather suddenly of doggie desserts when my stomach started to rumble again. It was time to eat more food. Immediately outside the arena I found myself hankering for something sweet. I stumbled upon Tropical Delights, a fruit smoothie stand, which appeased my needs very efficiently. The well proportioned plastic cup held so much sugary sweetness in just the perfect amount to be devoured during another walk-about.

Volcano Fruit Smoothie from Tropical Delights. Photo by author.

This time, on my adventure into the chaotic masses, throngs of people had made their way to the fairgrounds and were trampling over the burning asphalt.

With my drink in hand I walked through smelly live animal exhibits featuring beautiful looking swine, cattle and peafowls taking up residence in cages; I traipsed into the beautiful gardens influenced by local fauna at the “Flower & Garden Show”; my feet took me past hundreds of screaming children wanting to get another go at the rickety rides I wouldn’t condemn anyone to spend a single minute on. 

Bonsai tree competitor at the “Flower & Garden Show”. Photo by author.

There is no end of adventuring at the State Fair. There is no emptying the pool of wealth to be had there. There is no limit of excitement that can be obtained there.

And of course I’ve left out quite a number of things I experienced here. I had no more room to make this blog post into a readable and coherent experience for the people soaking up these words instead of experiencing the fair for themselves.

If you’ve never been to the North Carolina State Fair, then I recommend you take a chance and find yourself some time to visit, eat, and learn, or something along those cheesy lines.