2020 Horse Show spotlight: a dressage surprise

Jenna Smith has been riding horses on-and-off since she was about 12 years old. Now at age 23, she continues to find surprises – like the pleasant surprise to hear the N.C. State Fair Horse Shows would continue this year even if the fair did not. Her championship ribbon from the Oct. 23-25 show was a pretty nice surprise too. “Overall I think it went really well. We had some things we definitely could have improved on, but I acknowledge that I could have improved on it, so I wasn’t frustrated with whatever placing we got,” Smith said after racking…

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Making the Best of a Situation: Livestock Scholarship Recipients Share their COVID-19 College Experiences

“We took a lot of change in a short amount of time, but it is what it is and we just have to make the best of it.”—Zachery Keeter, NCSU freshman and 2020 NC State Fair Youth Livestock Scholarship Recipient Despite precautions and efforts, colleges and universities across the country have had to close their doors to in-person classes. Headlines have often covered the numbers, logistics, and causes. However, there is another story that should be told. That of the student who is having to adapt, pivot, and navigate college in a pandemic. Students are facing challenges ranging from social…

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Grabbing a Mask and Showing Cattle

“Be stubborn about your goals and flexible about your methods.” The goal was to give youth opportunities to show their cattle in the midst of the pandemic. In order to meet that goal, everyone had to be flexible and willing to do things a bit differently. The North Carolina Junior Beef Roundup is an annual event that many cattle families look forward to. It is a tradition that centers around family, fun, and cattle. It is a time to catch up with old friends and show off prized cattle. It’s a place to where conversations revolve around the cattle industry…

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Jumping for the blue: Inside the ring of the Hunter Jumper horse shows at the N.C. State Fairgrounds

In the hunter jumper world, the common phrase “going for the gold” transforms to “jumping for the blue,” as in the coveted first place ribbon. Every year farms from around the state bring their best horses and riders to compete in the Hunter Jumper shows and derby at the N.C. State Fairgrounds. Hunter jumping is a style of English horseback riding where both horse and rider are judged on accuracy, form, consistency and demeanor while performing a series of jump courses. “So much of horseback riding is mental and both parties affect the other, meaning the horse affects the rider…

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Roots in Family & Cattle Help Lynae Bowman Soar

With a car packed from floor to ceiling, the Bowman family left Stokes County for Oklahoma. Lynae Bowman was starting her first year of college at Redlands Community College in El Reno, and her parents were helping her move in and start a new chapter in life. Aptly, though, her parents didn’t leave her at college. They left her at a cattle sale a few miles from the school. Lynae’s mom, April, said, “she’s in her element.” Lynae Bowman has a passion for cattle. She’s been showing them at the NC State Fair and across the country since she was…

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The Greatest Gift of the NC State Fair: The Memories

In less than a month, youth from across the state will be able to do what they always have, albeit a bit different. In less than a month, livestock trailers will pull in to the NC State Fairgrounds to compete in another year of shows. Goats, cattle, pigs, sheep and turkeys will all make an appearance with some very eager youth. Masks will be plentiful and distance will abound, but the show will go on, thanks to the dedication and hard work of many. Because of their efforts, youth from across the state will be able to make memories yet…

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Flea market and other activities return as cautious fairgrounds reopening continues

Shoppers rejoice! The flea market at the N.C. State Fairgrounds has reopened, and it’s welcoming the public once again – the socially distanced, clean-handed, nose-and-mouth-covered public, of course. Officially called The Raleigh Market these days, it actually re-opened a few weekends ago for the first time since closing because of COVID-19. It will be open Labor Day weekend as usual, just not on Labor Day since that’s a Monday. The market didn’t reopen as soon as retail locations were allowed to welcome customers again though. Spokesperson Kimberly Benou said the management knew there was interest from customers and that some…

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The toughest decision: canceling the 2020 N.C. State Fair

When we started planning for this year’s State Fair last November, no one would have guessed what the next few months would bring. We’ve been monitoring the guidelines from the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services. We’ve thought through how we could hold a Fair in October and stay true to what has always been our ultimate goal: a safe and entertaining event for families to enjoy. We’ve hoped our state’s numbers would turn around. We’ve hoped for the health of our friends and families as we see so many struggling. We’ve hoped we’d find a way to…

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Giants among us: What it takes to grow giant fruits

The N.C. State Fair showcases a variety of fruits and vegetables from across the state each year. The stars of the show; however, are the giant pumpkins and watermelons.  Brandon Huber, a North Carolina State University doctoral student, has always been fascinated by plants, especially those that can grow really large. The Philadelphia native has grown competition-quality giant pumpkins for ten years now, adding watermelons to his agenda once moving to North Carolina. Over the years, Huber has managed to produce several impressive giants. Huber’s largest pumpkin weighed in at 667 pounds, while his largest watermelon was 170 pounds. Huber’s…

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The Show Must Go On

For months, life has been uncertain. COVID-19 (we’d all be fine never hearing that word again) has wreaked havoc on our world. In many ways, we have come to expect events to be canceled and life to be anything but normal. For many of us, it is just easier not to hope. That’s not to say all hope is gone. When it comes to the livestock show community, hope abounds. Even before the N.C. State Fair announced that they intended “to offer a modified livestock show program for junior competitors” and encouraged “youth livestock exhibitors to continue working with their…

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