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Record-setting giant pumpkin on display at the N.C. State Fair

October 23, 2014 By: Merrie Go Round Category: Uncategorized

Danny Vester with his state-record giant pumpkin at the Expo Building at the N.C. State Fair.

Within two months, Danny Vester of Spring Hope had set and broke his own state record for giant pumpkins as a first-time grower. Clearly he understands a thing or two about growing these mammoth fruits.

Vester has the 1,404.5-pound pumpkin on display in the Expo Center and was recently there answering fairgoers’ questions. His previous record pumpkin was 1,296 pounds, which was set in September.

When that “smaller” pumpkin was weighed, Vester was happy he set the state record, but  he had his eye on another one in his 5,400-square-foot garden.

“I knew this pumpkin was over 1,200 pounds, and I knew it was growing fast,” Vester said.

The retired telephone company worker bought his pumpkin seed via the Internet from a giant-pumpkin grower in Pennsylvania. The seed came from a 1,744.5-pound pumpkin. The cooler weather up North helps growers produce much larger pumpkins than we grow in the South, he said, but he has been thinking about ways to better manage some of the conditions here that hinder growth.

“Here we have a whole different environment that is not great for growing pumpkins, ” Vester said. “Part of it is figuring out how to work with the environment, and figuring out the unknowns.”

One of the factors he has focused on is getting faster runoff with water to avoid saturating the soil. Vester said he has spent a lot of time trying to figure out better growing techniques. “I’ve got some ideas for next year. I’ll be putting them into action and then see what Mother Nature throws at you. Mother Nature will always shoot you a curve.”

One new idea he plans to incorporate next year is to put wind breaks around his pumpkin patch.

One tip he passes along to would-be growers: “Don’t try to grow a giant pumpkin until you get about 200 leaves on the ground, because every leaf has a root node, so 200 leaves is 200 roots.” But the bigger tip he wanted to share was that anyone with some garden space can grow these plants, too.

 Be sure to check out Vester’s record-setting pumpkin in the Expo Center.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Disney Channel fans have opportunity to see the McClain Sisters perform featuring China Anne McClain

September 25, 2014 By: Merrie Go Round Category: Uncategorized

McClain Sisters will perform Thursday, Oct. 23, in Dorton Arena.

Sisters China Anne, Sierra and Lauryn McClain have been living their dream of performing since 2005, when they recorded the song “Silly Games,” which was produced by their father.

The McClain Sisters are likely no strangers to fans of the Disney Channel. China Anne McClain has appeared in numerous Disney Channel shows such as “A.N.T. Farm,” “Hannah Montana,” “Jonas L.A.” and “Wizards of Waverly Place.” She has also starred in “Tyler Perry’s House of Payne” and “NCIS,” and was the winner of ABC’s “Sing Your Face Off” in 2014.

China Anne is not the only actress in the group. Sierra and Lauryn have had roles alongside her in “The Gospel” and “Daddy’s Little Girls.”

The trio’s music has also been featured in episodes of “A.N.T. Farm,” “Austin & Ally” and Disney’s Friends for Change public service initiative.

The talent runs deep in the McClain family. Inspired by their parents who are both singers and producers, the girls began writing songs in 2004 and formed their first group, 3McClain Girls, a year later.
In 2011, the group changed its name to McClain Sisters and signed with Hollywood Records. The song “Rise,” written by the sisters and produced by their father, has been featured in the Disneynature film “Chimpanzee.”

 
The trio can also be heard on the “A.N.T. Farm” soundtrack. This album features China Anne’s hit song “Calling All the Monsters,” which reached No. 86 on the Billboard Hot 100. The group’s debut single, “Go,” was released in November 2012, and was featured on ”A.N.T. Farm.”  In 2013, the group parted ways with Hollywood Records, and their newest single, “He Loves Me,” was released in February.

This family-friendly group will be performing with special guest Before You Exit in Dorton Arena on Thursday, Oct. 23, at 7:30 p.m. Tickets are $10.

Weekend Roundup: Sept. 19-21

September 18, 2014 By: Funhouse 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.

Weekend Update: Aug. 29-Sept. 1

August 28, 2014 By: Funhouse 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.

Introducing Fair Employee Eleanor Upchurch

August 25, 2014 By: Funhouse 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.”

 

Weekend Update: Aug. 22-24

August 21, 2014 By: Funhouse Category: Fairgrounds Events, N.C. State Fairgrounds, Uncategorized

 

The Body Mind Spirit Expo is Saturday and Sunday in the Scott Building. (photo by Body Mind Spirit Expo)

Body Mind Spirit Expo, the largest holistic living expo in the Southeast, will be in the Scott Building Saturday and Sunday. The expo will host more than 100 wellness and metaphysical booths and 60 free lectures featuring natural and holistic produce, intuitive readings, enlightened art, crystals, massages and chiropractic care. Event hours are Saturday, 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. and Sunday, 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. Weekend admission covers both days – $10 for adults and children under age 10 are admitted free. A $1 discount coupon is available at their website.

Other events this weekend:

For a complete calendar of events, visit www.ncstatefair.org/events/calendar.htm.

 

Weekend Roundup: Aug. 14-17

August 14, 2014 By: Funhouse Category: Fairgrounds Events, Uncategorized

More than 200 boats will be on display this week at the Carolina Fall Boat Show in the Graham Building.

Back to school for traditional calendar students is just around the corner. This weekend the fairgrounds can help you get some deals on back to school clothes shopping at the Children’s Clothing and Baby Equipment sale and the Adidas Clearance Sale. Other events at the fairgrounds include the Double L Bar Cowboy Mounted Shooters event and the Carolina Fall Boat Show. Information on events is listed below:

  • The Children’s Clothing and Baby Equipment Sale will be Saturday in the Scott Building. Gently used and affordable infant, children’s and maternity clothing, toys, books, games, videos, bikes, bedding, shoes, strollers, swings, cribs, highchairs, car seats and more will be available. This event is sponsored by Triangle Mothers of Twins & Triplets. Sale runs Saturday from 7:30  a.m. to 12:30 p.m. Admission is free. Cash only except for purchases less than $50.
  • The Adidas Clearance Sale will be held through Sunday in the Holshouser Building. Daily hours are 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. Admission is free. For more information contact anthony.crowell@adidas.com.
  • The Double L Bar Cowboy Mounted Shooters event will be held Friday and Saturday at 7 p.m. at the Hunt Horse Complex. This show features riders dressed in period and contemporary Western costumes. Riders will shoot balloons from their galloping horses in the main arena with six guns, rifles and shotguns using safety blanks. This thrilling competition combines shooting skills with horsemanship against the clock. Admission is free.
  • Carolina Fall Boat Show & Sale will be held Friday, Saturday and Sunday in the Graham Building.  There will be a boat inventory reduction sale showcasing 12 marine dealers and more than 200 boats on display.  Show hours are Friday, 10 a.m. to 7 p.m., Saturday, 10 a.m. to 7 p.m., and Sunday, 10 a.m. til 5 p.m.  Admission is $6, with children ages 12 and under admitted free.
  • The Raleigh Flea Market also will be open this weekend. Make plans to visit the largest flea market in Raleigh on Saturday and Sunday from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m

 

Weekend Update: Aug. 9-10

August 07, 2014 By: Funhouse Category: Uncategorized

The Southern Bridal Show is this weekend in the Graham Building

Brides-to-be will find the fairgrounds the place to be on Saturday and Sunday as the Southern Bridal Show and Expo sets up in the Graham Building. Meet more than 150 Triangle-area wedding experts. Also enjoy wedding fashion previews featuring the latest trends in bridal wear. Event hours are 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Admission is $10 per person. Children age 12 and under are admitted free. Pre-register and purchase tickets online to receive a $2 discount.

Other events this weekend:

  • The Raleigh Flea Market is open 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. every Saturday and Sunday. Each weekend, the Commercial and Education buildings and the outside grounds are host to hundreds of dealers, craftsmen and booths.
  • Johnston County Horse Show Series: Events include open, dressage and hunter jumper. Spectator admission is free. Show starts at 9 a.m. on Saturday and Sunday.
  • Drag Bingo, an annual fundraiser for the Alliance of AIDS Services-Carolina, will be held Saturday in the Holshouser Building. Doors open at 6 p.m. and show begins at 7 p.m. Tickets are $25 and available at the door.

 

Weekend Update: Aug.1-3

August 01, 2014 By: Fried Oreo Category: Uncategorized

The Dixie Gun & Knife Classic show will be in the Graham Building Saturday and Sunday. This buy, sell and trade show will feature modern and collectible firearms, custom-made knives, hunting and fishing equipment, ammunition, gun accessories, reloading supplies and more. Hours are Saturday 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Sunday 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Admission is $9 for adults and free for children under 12.

The Bead Mercantile Show will be in the Scott Building. This event features a great selection of beads and bead-related items from vendors across the world, selling everything from handmade artisan glass beads to direct imports including beads, findings, threads/cord and other supplies to make beaded jewelry. Workshops are also available. Hours are Saturday 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Sunday 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. General admission of $6 is discounted to $3 with registration at door or online. Children under 16 are free but must be accompanied by an adult.

The Bead Mercantile Show will be at the Fairgrounds this weekend!

Por Una Vida Mejor, a health and wellness fair oriented to the health issues of the Hispanic community of the Triangle, will be held in the Holshouser Building on Sunday. This event features family entertainment with booths offering health, development and professional services. Hours are 4 to 7 p.m. Admission is free.

The Raleigh Flea Market will be open Saturday and Sunday from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m.

For  a complete list of events, please visit http://www.ncstatefair.org/events/calendar.htm

Singer-songwriter Brandy Clark offers up a wry look at life’s ups and downs

July 31, 2014 By: Merrie Go Round Category: 2014 N.C. State Fair, Uncategorized

Starting this week and continuing weekly up to 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 go on sale online starting tomorrow at 10 a.m. 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.

We’ll kick this weekly series off with country singer-songwriter Brandy Clark.

I need to be up front with readers … I love singer-songwriters. Mary Chapin Carpenter, Nanci Griffith, Bruce Springsteen, Iris Dement  and Sara Bareilles are among my favorites.

To me singer-songwriters represent the complete package as performers; their songs are not the interpretations of another person, but rather are reflections of themselves, whether it’s the humor they convey, a loss they grieve or a message told through a fictional story line.

So when I heard rising country singer-songwriter Brandy Clark was going to be performing at the State Fair, I was personally excited. (Full disclosure: I do NOT book the musical acts in Dorton Arena.)

Some people may not know Clark’s name, but if you are a country music fan, specifically a Miranda Lambert or The Band Perry fan, you have no doubt heard Clark’s handiwork. Clark co-wrote “Mama’s Broken Heart,” which was a huge hit for Lambert and has earned several songwriting nominations. She also co-wrote the dark, rock-tinged No. 1 hit, “Better Dig Two,” off The Band Perry’s sophomore album.

Clark also is the opening act for Sugarland’s Jennifer Nettles’ That Girl tour, which I was lucky enough to catch in Atlanta earlier this year. In addition to the exposure she is getting via the tour, Clark was recently honored as Music Row Magazine’s Breakthrough Artist of the Year.

Dark humor seems to suit Clark just fine, as evidenced by her song “Stripes,” a catchy tune about a woman’s reaction to a cheating spouse that is on her debut album “12 Stories.”

In the chorus, Clark sings:

“I hate stripes and orange ain’t my color
And if I squeeze that trigger tonight
I’ll be wearin’ one or the other
There’s no crime of passion worth a crime of fashion
The only thing savin’ your life
Is that I don’t look good in orange and I hate stripes”

You can check out the full song in the clip above from her Grand Old Opry performance.

Clark performs Wednesday, Oct. 22, at 7:30 p.m. in Dorton Arena. Tickets are $5.

 

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