Archive for the ‘2012 N.C. State Fair’

3 Inspiring Blue-Ribbon Recipes for Thanksgiving

November 19, 2012 By: Bearded Lady Category: 2012 N.C. State Fair, N.C. State Fairgrounds

What will you serve at your Thanksgiving dinner? Try these blue-ribbon recipes from the 2012 N.C. State Fair.

If you’re still searching for some great recipes to try this Thanksgiving, look no further than the award-winning dishes from the 2012 N.C. State Fair Special Cooking Contest. This year’s entries covered a variety of foods, from Peanut Butter Bacon Sliders to Chai Latte Pie. We recommend trying all the winning entries, but the following are our top picks for Thanksgiving Day.

1. Sweet Potato Salad

Kathryn Jackson poses with her blue-ribbon Sweet Potato Salad.

Kathryn Jackson of Benson won a blue ribbon for her Sweet Potato Salad in the Anything But Ordinary! Sweet Potato Recipe Contest at the N.C. State Fair. The contest, sponsored by the N.C. SweetPotato Commission, was full of great entries. This one won over judges because of its great flavor, and it’s sure to win over the judges at your house, too. Following is Jackson’s recipe:
Sweet Potato Salad
3 cups grated sweet potatoes
½ cup raisins
1 cup celery, chopped
¼ cup green onion, chopped
5 ounces of baked ham, chopped
½ cup sour cream
2 tablespoons orange juice

Bring potatoes to a boil in water. Cover and cook for one minute. Drain immediately. Place potatoes in ice water. Let stand for five minutes. Drain well and pat dry with paper towels. Combine potatoes, raisins, celery and onion. Stir in ham. Mix sour cream and orange juice. Toss with potato mixture. Cover and chill overnight. Serve on lettuce leaves. Makes six to eight servings.

2. Grilled Granny Smith Caprese

Marci Rakshys won the Apple Recipe Contest with her Grilled Granny Smith Caprese.

Marci Rakshys of Durham came in first in the N.C. Apple Growers Association Apple Recipe Contest for her recipe, Grilled Granny Smith Apple Caprese. This elaborate dish will make an amazing appetizer or side dish for your guests. Following is Rakshys’ winning receipe:
Grilled Granny Smith Apple Caprese

½ cup extra virgin olive oil
¼ cup white balsamic vinegar
2 tablespoons of garlic powder
1 teaspoon red pepper flakes
2 tablespoons brown sugar
1 teaspoon sea salt divided (into ½ teaspoon each)
1 tablespoon butter
1 teaspoon garlic powder
2 teaspoons soy sauce
4 medium-large green Granny Smith apples from North Carolina, cored and cut into 1/4 to 1/3-inch thick slices (about 2 pounds)
16 ounces sliced, fresh mozzarella cheese
Kosher salt and fresh ground pepper to taste
½ cup fresh basil leaves
4 to 6 thinly sliced pieces prosciutto
½ cup coarsely chopped pecans

Combine first six ingredients in a large plastic freezer bag. Add apples, seal and shake gently to coat. Chill one hour.
Preheat oven to 350 degrees and bake slices of prosciutto on an ungreased cookie sheet for eight minutes or until crisp. Then cool and crumble.
Using a medium-size frying pan over medium heat, melt butter, soy sauce, ½ teaspoon of sea salt and one teaspoon of garlic powder until ingredients are warm. Add chopped pecans and toast in mixture.
Preheat grill to 350 to 400 degrees (medium-high) heat. Spray grill with nonstick spray. Remove apples from marinade, reserving marinade. Grill apples covered, 3 to 4 minutes on each side or until tender and grill marks appear.
Arrange alternating slices of warm grilled apple slices, basil and mozzarella cheese on a large, shallow platter. Drizzle with reserved marinade, season with salt and pepper to taste. Sprinkle with crumbled prosciutto and toasted pecans.

3. Tarheel Tourtiere

Jane Blanco's Tarheel Tourtiere earned her a blue ribbon at the State Fair.

Jane Blanco of Raleigh took home first place for her Tarheel Tourtiere in the N.C. Pork Council Tar Heel Pork Challenge. There’s just something about the combination of N.C. pork and spices that makes this dish so appealing. The pork mixture can be made in advance, which really helps during the holidays. Here’s Blanco’s winning recipe:
Tarheel Tourtiere
1½ tablespoon butter
1 medium onion, minced
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 pounds ground pork
¾ teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon black pepper
¼ teaspoon ground mace
1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper
½ cup raisins
1 tablespoon cornstarch
1/3 cup water
2 medium gala apples, cored and sliced
¾ cup Monterrey Jack cheese, shredded
2 packs refrigerated crescent rolls

½ cup powdered sugar
2 -3 teaspoons apple cider, apple juice or maple syrup

Preheat oven to 350 degrees and line baking sheet with non-stick aluminum foil.

Sauté onion and garlic in butter until transparent. Add ground pork, salt, pepper, mace and cayenne, and brown thoroughly. Mix in raisins. Combine cornstarch and water and dissolve completely; add to pork mixture and blend well. Allow pork to cool to room temperature (this step may also be prepared in advance with mixture refrigerated or frozen until ready to use).

To assemble, unroll crescent dough and separate into 16 triangles. Arrange triangles in a circle on the baking sheet with the points facing out and the triangles overlapping at the center (center of ring should be about five inches in diameter. Evenly spread pork mixture over the widest end of the triangles. Sprinkle with shredded cheese and top with apple slices. Bring points of triangles up over the filling and tuck under the wide ends of the dough at center of the ring (filling will not be completely covered).

Bake 20-25 minutes until golden. Cool and drizzle with glaze. Serves six to eight.

Do you think you’ll try any of these dishes? Let us know. Leave us a comment below or share with us on Facebook or Twitter. What are some of your favorites during the holiday season?


Urban gardening pays off for Raleigh woman

October 21, 2012 By: Firecracker Category: 2012 N.C. State Fair

Nasima Hossain poses next to some exotic vegetables that were entered from her family's garden.

Seeing the variety of fruits, vegetables and flowers submitted by Nasima Hossain, you would think she lived on a farm instead of in the city. It took four van loads to deliver her 170 entries in the horticulture and flower and garden competitions at the fair, according to workers in the horticulture area. Hossain has lived in Raleigh for 16 years and has entered competitions at the State Fair for the past 10 years.

Hossain's market display

Hossain's market display

Hossain is from Bangladesh. She and her family grow more than 30 different types of vegetables, many of which are exotic or native to Southeast Asia, such as winter squash, Malibar spinach, grain amaranth and African horned melons. They stressed that growing their own food is the best way to a healthy diet and allows them the opportunity to pass on some of their native culture to their three children, at least one of whom has also entered State Fair competitions.

Hossain and her family also entered the inaugural market display competition, where they displayed around 30 different types of fruits and vegetables they grow. They placed fifth.

This year she won 36 ribbons, a mixture of blue, red and white. Three blue ribbons came from the flower show — for a dwarf orange marigold, a crested celosia and the Around the World-themed garden, which alone came with a premium of $750. She also won a blue ribbon for root vegetables in the horticulture competition. Overall, her four van loads of entries won $1,109 in premiums.



State Fair Street Team: One More Day!

October 21, 2012 By: Bearded Lady Category: 2012 N.C. State Fair

This is a guest blog post from our State Fair Street Team. You can follow Helen, Annie and Ali’s adventures at the 2012 N.C. State Fair on their blog, Heart of a Southern Woman.

Gracious, tomorrow Sunday, October 21, is the last day of this year’s Fair! It went by so quickly–11 days, but not enough to see and do everything!  We went to concerts at Dorton Arena and saw performances outside also like; bluegrass, the Reality Show Band, magicians, Kenya Safari Acrobats, the folk festival …worth far more than the price of a ticket!

Kenya Safari Acrobats, 2012

We ate deep fried girl scout cookies, deep fried pumpkin pie, eclairs, corn dogs, turkey legs, roasted corn, tempura veggies, pretzels, potato soup, peach cobbler,and local fare from the State Farmer’s market! We saw true artisans demonstrating their craft, and were able to buy some.

We worked in the Peace booth, so that we felt we were giving back a bit.

We also rode the rides, or we watched family members ride the rides! The ferris wheel provided beautiful views for miles! The super slide, the carousel, the helicopter, the twirling pirate ships–were just some of the adventures and memory makers we enjoyed!        

We played games…and we met the Earp family…the champions of games–the family with the golden hearts!

When it was hot we drank Moose Joose slushies, when it was cold we loved the hot chocolate from the Gingerbread House!  We saw the cows, the goats, and even took a milking lesson! LOL 

We loved the giant pumpkins, watermelons, and the veggie petting zoo! In the education building we got our eyes checked, picked up some political yard signs, signed petitions for peace, ate hush puppies and pickles, and perused the quilts, clothes, and cake decorating!

Then there were the gardens, the wonderful gardens! There were 90 some entries of  garden plots designed by different local schools and groups. The gardens were playful, educational, and a don’t miss feature of the fair!


Our family, the 2012 NC State Street Team, will be going one more time tomorrow, to get our last fix of the Fair until next year! I’ve promised to weigh in and see what damage I’ve done during the Fair, if any, LOL.
 I also have some things to buy in the commercial building, like magic marbles for my plants, and rubber mulch for my garden or a hammock  chair in which to relax, all found in the education/commercial building. Annie wants Appalachian State University shoes from FanFeet in the Kerr Scott building.

Of course, if we’re talking consumerism here, Christmas presents and all that….I personally would love a leather hand-tooled journal from Mike Lowe in the Village of Yesteryear as well as a piece of that beautiful stained glass by Rebecca Allen. I’d also like a lantern from the tinsmith Peter Blum in the Village of Yesteryear, or a pewter nativity set! Other years we have bought baskets, tin angels, wooden bowls…so many treasures! What could be better than a gift from a native North Carolinian artisan!

Go to the Fair tomorrow, GO, GO, GO … you’ll regret it if you don’t . It is the most fun ticket of the year!

Wake Up with the Deep Fried Crew – Last Chance Edition

October 21, 2012 By: Bearded Lady Category: 2012 N.C. State Fair

It’s the last day of the 2012 N.C. State Fair. That means it’s the last chance for you to enjoy all the agricultural exhibits, food, rides and entertainment at the fair. If you haven’t visited, make plans now at Check out the video below to see what Flying Bob and Bearded Lady recommend for the final day.

Press Office Challenge: horseshoe edition

October 20, 2012 By: Firecracker Category: 2012 N.C. State Fair

When you’ve worked at the N.C. State Fair for 17 years, it gets harder to find something you’ve never done. I’ve never entered into any competition, so I’ve never won anything at the fair. That changed today.

Bearded Lady and I tried our hand at the Horseshoe Pitching Competition this morning. The competition is held each Saturday during the fair and you don’t have to pre-register to participate. All you have to do is show up (with your own horseshoes, preferably) and pay the $5 registration fee. Bearded and I wanted to do doubles, but the rules state that we would be paired with an experienced shoer, and we didn’t want to ruin anyone’s chances of actually winning. So we both did the individual competition.

Don’t get me wrong. I have thrown a horseshoe once or twice. But that’s about it. Bearded’s experience level equaled mine. Thankfully, the competition was helpful and friendly and everyone had a good time. We had to cajole a few unsuspecting fairgoers into joining us. Apparently the competition, which was once a bustling event, is now falling on hard times and looking for competitors. In the end, there were two upper-class throwers and four novice throwers – Bearded and I both had a competitor. The upper-class throwers finished their best of three series in less time than it took the novice men to finish one game. There were lots of laughs, a few stray shoes thrown and everyone walked away happy and a winner.

Next year, mark your calendar for Saturdays at 11 a.m. for singles competition and 1 p.m. for doubles. The horseshoe pitches are near Trinity Road outside Gate 9, so you don’t even need a ticket to participate if you just want to come and play.

Wake Up with the Deep Fried Crew – Saturday, Oct. 20

October 20, 2012 By: Bearded Lady Category: 2012 N.C. State Fair

Flying Bob and Bearded Lady give you the skinny on the last Saturday of the 2012 N.C. State Fair. Check out the video below and go to for more information.

Wake Up with the Deep Fried Crew – Friday, Oct. 19

October 19, 2012 By: Bearded Lady Category: 2012 N.C. State Fair

It’s Friday, Oct. 19, and that means it’s the last weekend of the 2012 N.C. State Fair. If you haven’t visited us yet, find out what you’re missing as Tea Cup and Firecracker break down today’s events. Check out the video below and go to for more information.

Germ City tests your handwashing skills

October 18, 2012 By: Bearded Lady Category: 2012 N.C. State Fair

Find out how well you wash your hands in Germ City.

How clean are your hands? Even if you think you have a good hand-washing technique, you may be surprised with the germs you leave behind. That’s the focus of Germ City, an exhibit sponsored by the Food and Drug Protection Division of the N.C. Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services.

Inside the exhibit, visitors rub a “germ lotion” on their hands. The lotion shows up under black light. They then have the chance to wash their hands thoroughly using soap and water. Finally, they step into a darkroom with black lights to see how well they washed their hands.

This isn’t the first appearance of Germ City at the fair, but it’s back again in a new location outside the Jim Graham Building. Merrie Go Round and Tea Cup recently took a tour of the exhibit. To see how they did at washing their hands, see the video below:



Wake Up with the Deep Fried Crew – Thursday, Oct. 18

October 18, 2012 By: Bearded Lady Category: 2012 N.C. State Fair

It’s Food Lion Hunger Relief Day at the N.C. State Fair. Bearded Lady and Merrie Go Round break down all the events happening today, including free admission to the fair if you bring at least 4 cans of Food Lion brand food. Check out the video below and go to for more information.

Announcing the ‘What Would You Do?’ contest winners

October 16, 2012 By: Bearded Lady Category: 2012 N.C. State Fair

Last week, we asked for your suggestions on what to cover at the fair. We received a lot of great ideas from fans and followers on the blog, Facebook and Twitter. It was a difficult process, but we managed to narrow down the list to our top four. Here they are:

1. Brad O’Brien posted on Facebook: I’d like for you to lay out a “map” or step by step guide so that we can get the most “deep fried” experience possible. Last year was my first time at the fair & I feel like I could have gotten more out of it if I just knew where to go maybe you could integrate a social aspect for anyone that visits your top 10 spots if the upload pics & tag your page.

2. Lynn Viverette Collins posted on Facebook: I think it would be nice to know more about the young people that enter the animals, like the 4-H. Like how long have they worked with their animals etc. I’ve heard some stories of how some of them have raised them from birth and spent the night in the barns watching over them.

3. Jamie Geiger posted on Facebook: I’d like to see a behind the scenes feature on judging edible entries like canned and baked goods. Who are the judges? How are they selected? What are the criteria for submissions? What elements are the judges looking for? How would I submit my own creation? A side story could feature a entrant and his or her preparation for entering an item and culminate in the judging.

4. Erica Gladden posted on the blog: I would like to see more in-depth info on parking…. going rates on private lots, shortest walking distance, how to ride the bus (and how crowded it is), any places to park for free, handicapped parking, best kept parking secrets, quickest routes and least traffic around the fairgrounds, etc. The fair is awesome, but you have to get there first! A lot of times, parking and traffic can be a big hassle and it would be great to know some tips, in order to start your NC State Fair adventure on the right foot!

Congratulations to our winners. You’ll each receive a State Fair prize pack with a State Fair T-shirt, souvenir cup and other great prizes. Please send us an email at to claim your prize. And be sure to check back on the blog as we cover your topic areas.

Thanks again to everyone for submitting entries. Remember, you’ve still got five days to enjoy a Bumper Crop of Fun at the N.C. State Fair.

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