Posts Tagged ‘NC State Fair’

We toyed with tradition, but fair still delivers

October 20, 2010

A Ferris wheel is still without seats a few hours after opening of the state fair

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.

The Krispy Kreme burger has a star role

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.

Youngsters with their lambs look hopeful while a judge inspects the animals

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.

North Carolina apples as far as the eye can see

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.


Fried pickles, meet chocolate-covered bacon

October 27, 2009

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Diane helps out with deep-fried pickles

Like the teetotaler who gets drunk at her cousin’s wedding, I, a fairly healthy eater who really dislikes the taste of processed foods, went overboard at the North Carolina State Fair. I usually don’t. But this time I did.

I’d been working so hard for weeks and needed a big release. What could be bigger than our state’s huge annual fair, attended by some 878,000 people over 10 days.

Mostly we go for the agricultural exhibits (like you read Playboy for the fiction). But really, I love the giant pumpkins and watermelons and the well-kept cows and goats and chickens, and I so want one of those adorable miniature donkeys.

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How can one forget this delicacy?

As we hit the first midway, I mentioned to Wessel how much I enjoyed our deep-fried pickles the last time.

“I don’t remember that,” he said. “I don’t think I had any.“

“Of course you did; how could you forget?” I said. “Look, there they are.” I pointed to a stand.

He had to “try” some. He couldn’t eat all six on his own, so I was enlisted to help.

And we were off.

Next on the list: the fair’s latest offering. No, not the deep-fried butter. The chocolate-covered bacon. (It’s actually a gourmet treat, though typically made with much finer meat and cocoa. My favorite truffle maker, Deans Sweets in Portland, Maine, keeps threatening to add them to his repertoire. Do it, Dean!)

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Are the innards of bacon blasphemy or blessing for the chocolate connoisseur?

I was starting to get panicked because I couldn’t find a chocolate bacon stand. Just as Wessel was trying to talk me down, there it was! And for only $3.50. The salty and sweet combined for a lip-smacking taste treat — on a stick, of course. Bacon and chocolate, meet pickle and grease.

Then came a shared cup of chilled apple cider as we watched a bluegrass band, which happened to be set up dangerously close to the kettle corn stand. At least I ordered a small.

When Wessel asked if I wanted my usual ham biscuit at one of the church fund-raising restaurants, I had enough sense to say no.

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The Ferris wheel is our big thrill

We took an eating interlude, midway- hopping until we reached “our” Ferris wheel, one of the three at the fair. It looks down on the always hoppin’ Himalaya, with fierce tunes blaring, and the crazy Pharaoh’s Fury, a Cleopatra-style open seated gondola sort of thing that swings back and forth at increasingly angular pitches. I would definitely not be able to hold down aforementioned delicacies. The Ferris wheel, on the other hand, is totally tame, some would say lame. I love it.

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Wessel digs into his long-awaited Italian sausage sandwich

On the way out, Wessel finally ordered his long-awaited Italian sausage sandwich, with fries. At a certain point, he needed my assistance. Being the ever-supportive spouse, I obliged. Italian sausage and fries, meet kettle corn and chocolate bacon and ….

Need I mention that we skipped dinner?