Weekend Roundup: Sept. 19-21

September 18, 2014 By: Category: Uncategorized

Participants in the Electric Run begin the race with glow sticks. Kicking off a big weekend of events at the fairgrounds is Friday night’s Electric Run. Whether you’re a runner, walker or just someone who enjoys an exciting night, the Electric Run is an event you won’t want to miss. Participants will complete the 5k course, which features special lighting effects synced to electronic music. For on-site registration enter through Gates 9 or 10 from Trinity Road. Registration is Thursday until 7 p.m. and Friday 5 p.m. until race time. The race will benefit Special Olympics North Carolina. The first waves begin around 7:45 and will go until 9 p.m. The after-race party ends at 11:30.

Other events this weekend:

More than 125 athletes will participate in the equestrian championship for Special Olympics Saturday and Sunday. Participants come from 20 local programs in North Carolina and will compete in dressage, showmanship, English and Western trails, and equitation. Spectator admission is free. Event hours are 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday and Sunday in the Hunt Horse Complex.

The American Kennel Club Responsible Dog Ownership Day is a fun and educational event for all dog lovers. There will also be Canine Good Citizen tests available for $10 each, agility, obedience and flyball demonstrations, games and contests for participants. Microchip your pet for $10 with Wake County Animal Care, Control & Adoption. The fee includes lifetime enrollment in AKC Reunites national recovery service.  Other family-friendly activities include raffles, games for kids, badge opportunities for Y Guides and scouts, and face painting. Admission is free and the first 500 attendees will receive a free goodie bag. The event will be in the Holshouser Building from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday.

The Original Coin & Currency Show is Saturday and Sunday in the Scott Building. Show offers a variety of numismatic items including rare coins, precious metals, paper money, tokens, coin collecting books and supplies. Bring your coins and currency to be appraised or bought. Hours are Saturday and Sunday, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Admission is free.

Central North Carolina Pagan Pride is hosting its Pagan Pride Day in the Harrill Center. The event is open to public and will offer social, commercial and spiritual activities. Admission is one item to donate to the Food Bank of Central and Eastern North Carolina. Attendees can join or observe rituals, attend workshops and meet with local groups. Event hours are 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Saturday and Sunday.

Joan Jett & The Blackhearts rock out Dorton Arena on Sunday, Oct. 26

September 17, 2014 By: Category: 2014 N.C. State Fair

Nobody sits down during a Joan Jett show.

It’s high-energy rock that brings fans to their feet and  admiration for a woman who has truly been rocking out for almost 40 years. Even the most casual of fans will recognize Joan Jett and the Blackhearts’ 1982 hit “I Love Rock ‘N’ Roll.” The song spent seven weeks at No. 1, and even more than 30 years later people can sing along with the iconic lyrics. “Singing I love rock and roll, so put another dime in the jukebox,baby. I love rock and roll, so come and take your time and dance with me.”

Jett began her career in 1975 as a founding member of the all-girl punk rock band “The Runaways.” One of the more famous songs from the group is “Cherry Bomb.” After The Runaways disbanded in 1979, Jett spent a few years pursuing a solo career before placing an ad in the L.A. Weekly “looking for a few good men.” These men would form the Blackhearts, and their first hit would be “I Love Rock ‘N’ Roll.”  The song is No. 65 on Billboard Magazine’s list of songs of all time.  Other hits and sold-out tours followed. In 2003, Jett was named by Rolling Stone magazine as one of the 100 greatest guitarists of all time. This was quite an honor considering only one other woman, Joni Mitchell, made the list at that time.

In April, Jett was the first woman to win Revolver Magazine’s Golden God Award. With multiple nominations for the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, including 2012 and 2013, it is most likely just a matter of time before Joan Jett and the Blackhearts achieve this honor, too.

Buy Tickets buttonI saw Joan Jett when she came to downtown Raleigh in 2009. It was a high-energy show and truly nobody sat down. In honor of her return visit to the N.C. State Fair, I offer the following advice to prepare for the show:

  1. Download a few classic Joan Jett and the Blackhearts songs to your iPod. I would recommend my favorite, “Crimson and Clover,” or other hits such as “Love Hurts,” “Bad Reputation,” “I Hate Myself for Loving You ” and, of course, the classic “I Love Rock N Roll.” You also might check out newer songs such as “TMI” or “Hard to Grow Up,” which have the same energy and edginess of her classics.
  2. Rent “The Runaways,” this biographical film about the all-girl rock band. Jett was one of the executive producers. Actress Kristen Stewart played the young Joan Jett.
  3. Right before the show, get a good night’s sleep, have an energy drink, or at least a cup of coffee, and come to Dorton Arena ready to ROCK.

Tickets to see Joan Jett & the Blackhearts are $15 each, and the show starts at 7:30 p.m.

Weekend Update: Sept. 12-14

September 12, 2014 By: Category: Fairgrounds Events

Take a spin in your dream car at the Supercar Autocross Ride & Drive Experience this weekend

It promises to be a busy (and culturally enriching) weekend at the State Fairgrounds. The Greek Festival expands to the Jim Graham Building for the 33rd annual event, the Budweiser Clydesdales are starring in the Hunt Horse Complex and two Independence Day celebrations will be held. Plus, this is one of only three weekends of the Flea Market left before they have to move out for the N.C. State Fair, so don’t delay if you’re on the lookout for antique furniture or collectibles.

The Budweiser Clydesdales are making appearances at the N.C. State Championship Horse Show through Saturday. The horse show starts at 6 p.m. each evening, with the Clydesdale team performing around 7:30. Admission is $8 and children under 12 are free. The show is a charity event sponsored by the Raleigh Host Lions Club.

The 33rd Annual Greek Festival is spreading out in the Jim Graham Building. Authentic Greek food and homemade Greek pastries will be for sale. There’s also a marketplace, plus live music and Greek dance groups will perform throughout the day. Hours are Friday, 5 to 10 p.m.; Satuday, 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. and Sunday, 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. Admission is $3 for adults, $2 for students ages 13 to 19 and senior citizens,  and free for children 12 and under.

The Supercar Autocross Ride & Drive Experience returns to the fairgrounds. Drive 2 laps around the autocross course in a Ferrari or Lamborghini. Student driver registration required. Family and friends free admission.

Celebrate the Independence Day of El Salvador at this free event Saturday from noon  until 6 p.m. in the Holshouser Building featuring cultural food, dances, games and more. At 7 p.m., Marito Rivera and his band from El Salvador will perform. The concert is $30. Sponsored by Casa El Salvador.

The Old North State Antique Gun & Military Collector Show will take place in the Scott Building Saturday and Sunday. Antique guns, U.S. and foreign military arms and memorabilia will be exhibited, bought, sold and traded. Also includes relics, books, uniforms and insignias. Show hours are Saturday, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Sunday, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Admission is $6 for adults, $1 for children 6 -12 and free for children age 6 and under.

Raleigh Aquarium Society presents the Annual Fall Carolina Aquarium Auction, featuring a wide variety of fish, plants and hardware items on Sunday in the Martin Building. Preview and registration begins at 8:30 a.m. Auction starts at 11 a.m.

On Sunday, the Grandstand will host the Mexican Independence Day celebration, Festival Fiestas Patrias featuring a Mexican Rodeo, and live music all day. Festival takes place 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. Adult admission is $20 (or $10 if you get there before 1 p.m.), children age 12 and under are free.

CMA nominee for vocal duo of the year Love and Theft performing Monday, Oct. 20

September 11, 2014 By: Category: 2014 N.C. State Fair

Love and Theft performs on Monday, Oct. 20 in Dorton Arena

Love and Theft, the two-man band made up of Stephen Barker Liles and Eric Gunderson, hit the ground running when their first single, “Runaway,” made it to the Top 10.  The band, formed in 2006 and signed to Carolwood Records in 2009, was the opening act for Taylor Swift’s 2009 tour. And as every dedicated Taylor Swift fan like myself knows, Love and Theft’s Stephen Liles is who she is singing about in her song “Hey Stephen.” “Dancing in Circles,” from their debut album reached the Top 40, peaking at number 25.

They followed up with a second single, “Angel Eyes,” which made it to No. 1 in 2011 and earned a platinum certification.The lead single from their third album, “Night That You’ll Never Forget,” is now playing on country radio.

In 2011, Love and Theft joined RCA Nashville, and have been nominated for the Country Music Association’s Vocal Duo of the Year award and the Academy of Country Music Top Vocal Duo award. In 2013, Love and Theft won the Country Music Television Duo Video of the Year award for their song “Runnin’ Out of Air.”

Buy Tickets buttonEarlier this month, the duo was once again nominated for the Country Music Association’s Vocal Duo of the Year. This is their third nomination in this category.

Love and Theft performs in Dorton Arena on Monday, Oct. 20, at 7:30 p.m. Tickets are $10.

Weekend Update: September 5-7

September 05, 2014 By: Category: Fairgrounds Events

Check out all things gourd at the 73th annual Gourd Arts and Craft Festival this weekend in the Holshouser Building.

What do horses, gourds, RVs and concerts have in common? A busy weekend at the N.C. State Fairgrounds, of course.

  • The N.C. State Charity Classic Horse Show will be Friday and Saturday in the Hunt Horse Complex. The event will feature competitors in saddlebred, roadster and Morgan classes as part of the Lion’s Club annual fundraiser event. Competitions will be held from 10 a.m. until 6 p.m. each day; admission is free for spectators.
  • The Hopes from Notes Organization will host a benefit concert and fashion show in Dorton Arena on Saturday from 6 to 11 p.m. Artists include Johnny Orr Band, Serge Padilla, Chino Casiano, Lea Chiurco, Orquesta Gardel, Ricardo Diquez, Anthony Alvarez, Vanett La Regia de Monterrey, Clef Hangers, Norman Lowewanthal, Eusebic Gonzalez and Pavedlid. A fashion show will be held during intermission. Admission is free. Donations to support Hope from Notes outreach program welcomed.  Doors open at 5:30.
  • The North Carolina RV Dealers’ Association presents its RV Sale and Show this weekend in the Graham Building and Expo Center. The show is the largest of its kind in North Carolina with the biggest selection of RVs on display. Attendees may tour RVs and hear seminars about buying, using and maintaining an RV. Show hours are 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. Friday and Saturday, and 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Sunday. Admission is $9 for ages 13 and up; children 12 and under get in free. Seniors ages 55 and up may buy tickets on Friday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. for only $6 as part of the Seniors Day. Also on Friday, after 5 p.m. all adult tickets are only $5.
  • The 73nd Annual North Carolina Gourd Arts & Crafts Festival will be Saturday and Sunday in the Holshouser Building. The event will feature a variety of competitions in gourd growing and crafting. Vendors will also be selling gourd crafts, dried gourds, seeds, books and other crafting supplies. Event hours are Saturday 9 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. and Sunday 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Admission is $2 for adults ages 16 and up.
  • The annual Unity in the Community Day will take place in the Kerr Scott Building Saturday from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. The event salutes our service men and women with family fun and an inspirational concert. Admission is free and the event is open to the public. The event is organized by The Light 103.9 FM.
  • The Raleigh Flea Market also will be open this weekend. Make plans to visit the largest flea market in the state on Saturday and Sunday from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m.

Mark your calendar for these popular, upcoming events:

The Newsboys return to Dorton Arena

September 04, 2014 By: Category: 2014 N.C. State Fair

With lyrics like “God’s not dead, He’s surely alive/He’s living on the inside, roaring like a lion,” the Newsboys don’t try to sugar coat the fact that they are a contemporary Christian rock band. But make no mistake, they are a rock band.  The band is in the middle of the We Believe Tour, and coming off the success of the movie, “God’s Not Dead,” that features their hit song of the same title.

The Newsboys, Friday, Oct. 24, Dorton Arena

Personally, I’ve been a Newsboys fan since seeing them at Campbell University in 1994, just before their Going Public album came out, and shortly after Jeff Frankenstein joined the band as the keyboardist. The band has seen a number of changes since then, but their sound and message remains the same. If anything, they’ve lost some of the quirkyness that defined their early albums with Steve Taylor as a songwriter and producer.

Their song “We Believe” hit as high as number 2 on the Billboard top Christian songs.  The Restart album debuted at No. 1 on the Billboard Christian Albums chart, and peaked at number 38 on the Top 200 Albums Billboard chart.

This adds to their long list of career achievements, which includes more than 8 million albums sold and 30 songs to hit Number One. Which maybe is bound to happen when a band has as much staying power as the Newsboys. The band now has 17 studio albums under their collective belts, all of which they can pull from to fill their set list.

Buy Tickets buttonBefore they go on stage, 7eventh Time Down will open for the Newsboys. The group released their sophomore album Just Say Jesus.

Take a look at this preview of the We Believe Tour. (Note: Family Force Five will not be appearing at the N.C. State Fair.)




Weekend Update: Aug. 29-Sept. 1

August 28, 2014 By: Category: Fairgrounds Events, Uncategorized

Horse shows, equestrian consignment sale and more this weekend at the N.C. State Fairgrounds

If you are spending Labor Day weekend around Raleigh, come on out to the Flea Market on Saturday and Sunday from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. You might just find your next treasure for your house, apartment or dorm room.

Other events this weekend:

The Equestrian Exchange Consignment Sale will run through Monday, Sept. 2, in the Holshouser Building. The sale has equestrian tack, saddles, show clothing, barn supplies, horsewear and riding needs. This is North Carolina’s largest equine item consignment sale. It offers the opportunity to buy and sell any equestrian tack, saddles, show clothing, barn supplies and riding needs for all disciplines of riding. Sale hours are 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. Friday through Sunday and noon to 6 p.m. Monday. Admission is free.

The Tarheel Labor Day Cluster Dog Shows will be in the Graham Building. Each day, American Kennel Club-registered dogs will compete for the coveted Best in Show ribbon. The Alamance Kennel Club hosts Friday, Durham Kennel Club Saturday, Raleigh Kennel Club Sunday and the Cary Kennel Club hosts Monday’s events. Show hours are 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily, and admission is $5 for adults and $2 for seniors and children ages 7-11. Children under 7 and military receive free admission.

Treasures of the Earth Gem, Mineral & Jewelry Show will be Friday through Monday in the Scott Building. The show offers precious and semi-precious gem stones, pearls, beads, minerals, fossils and finished jewelry in gold and silver. Wire-wrappers and jewelers are available on site. Admission is $5 for adults and free for children under 16. Event hours are noon to 6 p.m. Friday, 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Saturday, 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. Sunday and 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday.

The North Carolina Dressage and Combined Training Association’s Labor of Love Horse Show will be at the Hunt Horse Complex. Events Saturday and Sunday will show all levels of dressage for horses and ponies, and Monday competitions will focus on sport-horse breeding, shown in hand and under saddle.  Spectator admission is free, and the competitions will be from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily.

Vanilla Ice has mad DIY skillz

August 28, 2014 By: Category: 2014 N.C. State Fair

Each week until the start of the State Fair, the Deep Fried Crew will highlight one of the 2014 Dorton Arena entertainers. Tickets for all concerts and advance admission and ride tickets are on sale online here. Get your tickets early to save time and money, and to reserve your seat for your favorite Dorton Arena performer. Check out this year’s lineup here.

This week we highlight rapper Vanilla Ice, whose album “To the Extreme” was released on Aug. 28, 1990.

Vanilla Ice

Rapper and do-it-yourselfer Vanilla Ice

I envy Vanilla Ice. And not because he used a sample of a classic rock song to create one of the most infectious earworms of the past quarter century. Sure, I wouldn’t mind having a No. 1 hit and selling millions of records. And the guy had some pretty fly dance moves back in the day, too. But I envy Vanilla Ice because the guy has mad DIY skillz.

Ice (real name Rob VanWinkle) has become a successful remodeling expert known for his ability to renovate and sell homes in Florida. It’s a skill set he began developing — along with his music career — in his late teens and early 20s. His talents landed him his own show, “The Vanilla Ice Project,” on DIY Network.

I’ve watched the show a handful of times, and I’m impressed with his ability to transform these houses. Not only does he do a good chunk of the work himself, but he also encourages his team to stop, collaborate and listen. (Sorry, couldn’t resist that one.)

I’m not nearly as handy as Ice. (And I don’t cook MCs like a pound of bacon either.) At my house, every do-it-yourself project is an adventure. Just ask my wife. In fact, her preferred method for completing home-improvement projects involves obtaining recommendations for professional help.

Presumably, Vanilla Ice will not be remodeling Dorton Arena when he performs a “Throwback Thursday” show Oct. 16 at 7:30 p.m. Tickets cost $5 and are on sale here.

Now, back to the earworm. See the video for “Ice, Ice Baby” below.

Introducing Fair Employee Eleanor Upchurch

August 25, 2014 By: Category: 2014 N.C. State Fair, Uncategorized

Eleanor Upchurch at work in the entry office at the fairgrounds

For Eleanor Upchurch, stopping to smell the roses is just a pleasant bonus to her job. During the fair, Upchurch works as an assistant to the flower show superintendent.  “My main responsibilities are assisting the judges when needed, getting employees the supplies they need, and making sure things run on schedule.” She loves her job and sometimes can’t believe that she gets paid to work.

Her work supports the busiest general competition show at the fair. Last year, the flower show had 4,402 exhibits spread out over three shows and offered almost $40,000 in prize money. Upchurch stays busy receiving entries and assisting judges with three shows during the fair. “The flower show is the only competition that has three shows,” she said. “The first show is potted plants, and it is the biggest. The next two are cut flowers and they are not quite as big.”  Turning over the flower show building three times during fair week is a tough job and means that the workers in this part of the fair stay in competition mode all week long.

Upchurch has been working with the fair since 2000 and has seen a lot of changes in the past 14 years. “When I first started with the fair, the entry staff had to hand write every entry tag,” she said. “Now people can enter online and it has really sped up the process.”  This year the entry office saw another significant change as the State Fair premium book transitioned to an online-only publication. Instead of mailing out premium books or encouraging people to come to the fairgrounds to pick one up, the fair is encouraging people to go online to register. The entry office has also set up a computer for people who may not have access to the premium book online. Her advice for people who want to enter the flower show, or any of the competitions at the fair, is to call or come by the entry office and learn about how to enter.  “Better yet, just come on out to to fair and see what’s there.” Last year, 10,552 people entered competitions at the fair.

Upchurch assists judges and the flower show superintendent with the three shows held during the fair. Cut flowers, such as those pictured above, are part of the second and third shows.

“I used to enter flowers before I began working in the flower show,” she said. Now she has grandchildren that enter the shows. “My 13-year-old grandson has won a special award in the junior division for flower arrangements and my 16-year-old granddaughter has entered cut flowers over the years, too,” she said.  They have always helped me with growing flowers.” Upchurch has six grandchildren and two great grandchildren. Her first trip to the fair wasn’t until she married and moved to Raleigh in 1979. “Before then, I would always go to the county fair in Greensboro,” she said. “My children grew up coming to the N.C. State Fair.”

Of course the flower show is Upchurch’s favorite part of the fair, although when pressed she’ll tell you that her next favorite area is the handicrafts and hobbies located beside the N.C. State University ice cream booth.  “It’s also not the fair without getting out on the grounds for a hotdog and a ham biscuit,” she added.

Working on the N.C. State Fair keeps Upchurch busy during September and October. During the rest of the year, she helps with the year-round events at the fairgrounds.  “Three days a week, I help with contracts, invoices, filing and answering phones,” she said. In her spare time she likes to read, knit and play canasta and bridge.  “In fact, I often have ladies that come over on Fridays and we will play cards all day.”


Up and coming country band Parmalee will be performing Oct. 19.

August 22, 2014 By: Category: 2014 N.C. State Fair

Brothers Matt and Scott Thomas, plus cousin Barry Knox and childhood friend Josh McSwain, make up Parmalee, a band whose roots are firmly planted in Greenville, N.C., where they grew up together. In fact, the name “Parmalee” comes from the name of a town just a few miles away called Parmele. The group just made history with its No. 1 hit single “Carolina,” which is the longest-climbing single by a duo or group in the history of the Billboard Country Airplay Chart. Earlier this year, the band was also nominated for the Academy of Country Music’s New Artist of the Year award.

Last month, the Greensboro News and Record included the song Carolina on its top 10 list for favorite songs about North Carolina, joining classics like Carolina on my Mind by James Taylor and Wagon Wheel by Old Crow Medicine Show. This is quite an honor in a state that has such a long and rich music heritage.

Parmalee’s previous single, Musta Had a Good Time, landed the band a feature as a Billboard “Bubbling Under Artist,” and a spot on the Top 40. CountryMusicIsLove.com also chose the song as one of its Top 15 Songs of Summer.
“Feels Like Carolina,” Parmalee’s most recent studio album, earned a gold certification based on sales. The band is currently on tour with Jake Owen.

Don’t miss Parmalee at Dorton Arena  Sunday, Oct. 19, at 7:30 p.m. Tickets are $10, and are on sale now.

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