We tried a different tactic this year at the NC State Fair. After years of shuffling through the crowds, last week we arrived two hours after the fair opened its fall run. It was so squeaky clean you could smell detergent more than you could fried, greasy things. This was a little disconcerting. It was so uncrowded you could walk anywhere without bumping into anyone. This was a little depressing. The food lines were so short, you didn’t have time to work up an appetite. This was a little deflating. So, while we won’t go on a Saturday night, ever, we’ll likely skip opening day next year.
Still, we enjoyed ourselves. We saw the new Krispy Kreme burgers, got our free satchels at the Time Warner tent (although do I have any fondness for TW? No!), scarfed down some kettle corn, bought some fried frito pie thing that wasn’t very good, and finally found Joe’s Diner’s one-pound hotdog, which we wanted to meet, not eat. Wessel did enjoy the more reasonable quarter-pound version. We digested our intake while wandering through the Village of Yesteryear, the Got to be NC exhibit, the photos and art and of course the midways.
The two places that were crowded and lively — the State Fair Ark at the Exposition Center and the Livestock and Poultry in the Jim Graham Building — were holding several youth competitions. I chatted with a mom from Elizabeth City whose 13-year-old daughter was showing her lamb in one event and then quickly scurrying over to another building to show her goat. It was fascinating to watch the judges check the animals’ posture and muscle tone and the kids’ showmanship and control. How proud those children and their parents must be to show at the state fair! And if they win, well, all the better. Just seeing adolescents and teens being a part of something that’s not about TV, texting, shopping, and the kids themselves, well, that warmed my heart.
We also enjoyed the big and not-so-big veggies, the lovely array of apples, mostly from western NC, and the hay competition. Yup, hay.
Now get yourself to the fair! You have until Sunday, Oct. 24.