Agriculture Commissioner Steve Troxler will unveil a long-range master plan for improvements to the N.C. State Fairgrounds at a press conference this morning. If you are interested in seeing the planned improvements, click here at 11:30 a.m. to watch the presentation live.
Archive for the ‘2008 N.C. State Fair’
Southern Living readers love their state fairs, especially the N.C. State Fair! Southern readers (from Delaware to Texas) voted the N.C. State Fair as number two in the Best Fair or Festival category in the annual reader’s choice awards, which were announced in the January issue. We did come in second behind the Texas State Fair, which is the largest fair in the country. (The saying “Everything’s bigger in Texas is true…their State Fair lasts almost a month! A feat that we have no desire to copy.)
We want to say thank you to all the fairgoers who voted for us. We are humbled and hope that we continue to improve and meet your expections for the Best Fair or Festival.
In a side note to that, we were also included on the Top 50 Fairs list, as ranked by Matt’s Carnival Warehouse, a carnival industry Web site. The State Fair came in at number 24 in the nation, based on attendance.
According to my countdown, it looks like we are 265 days away from the 2009 N.C. State Fair! Which means the clock is ticking for the Fairgrounds staff to pull together another stellar entertainment lineup and to get everything ready for another great event.
The past few months were spent wrapping up the 2008 N.C. State Fair and attending fair conventions. A few highlights:
- In December, the State Fair signed a contract with Powers Great American Midways to provide the Midway for the 2009 N.C. State Fair. We are excited to work with Corky, Charlie and their very professional crew again. They brought in a number of spectacular rides in 2008 and we’re looking forward to see what they bring to Raleigh this year.
- Also in December, Natalie Alford (aka the Green Thing), presented a case study on our social networking efforts at the annual convention of the International Association of Fairs and Expos. She talked about our successful efforts of reaching out via Facebook, MySpace, Twitter and Blogspot as part of a panel discussion.
- Earlier this month, assistant State Fair manager Ray Frost was inducted as President of the N.C. Association of Agricultural Fairs at its annual meeting that was held in RTP. You don’t hear us talk about Ray very much because he’s very much a behind-the-scenes-kinda-guy, overseeing the fair’s operations. I think Ray will do a great job as president and I expect for some very interesting business meetings with Ray behind the gavel. Congrats, Mr. Prez!
Now that 2008 is officially behind us, we are fully focused on 2009. The most pressing agenda items are:
- Come up with a great theme for the 2009 N.C. State Fair that encapsulates everything about the State Fair, but in 7 words or less. And then the challenge is on for our graphic designers to make it visually exciting as well. Feel free to let us know your ideas!
- Start making offers for the Dorton Arena nightly concert lineup. Got any ideas of some up-and-coming artists that you would love to see in Dorton Arena?
- Finalize the grounds entertainment lineup for Kiddieland Stage, Waterfall Stage, Bluegrass Stage, Expo Center, Grandstand and roaming acts.
- Continue work on the Fairgrounds Master Plan, which is intended to guide us through the next 20 years of Fairgrounds improvements. Details coming soon!
Well, we are off to a running start. We’ll let you know when we’ve accomplished these first steps!
Well, the Fair is over and the Fairgrounds is slowly transforming from a bustling mini-city to empty buildings and parking lots. The press office has moved from our cramped quarters in the Kerr Scott Building to our individual offices in downtown Raleigh, ready to settle in for a long winter’s nap (we wish!). There are plenty of boxes left to unpack and we need a day or two to decompress before we start documenting the good and the not-so-good about the 2008 N.C. State Fair and start looking ahead to Oct. 15-25, 2009.
Despite what some media outlets might have led you to believe, we are thrilled with the outcome of the 2008 State Fair. There are a lot of factors that come into play to determine a successful State Fair. Attendance is one of them, and as Brian Long (aka FlyingBob) said in today’s N&O, “You can’t find too much to quibble with when more than 700,000 people come out.” We had no serious ride accidents, despite having the largest Midway ever – 114 rides. But the biggest indicator was on people’s faces – and that’s the smiles. People were having fun, and that’s the biggest measure of success in our books.
Some other milestones at this year’s Fair:
- The Fair opened a day earlier this year, on Thursday, Oct. 16. It was the first time since 1986 that the Fair added a day.
- The Midway featured 114 rides, the most ever.
- In addition to Sunday’s attendance record, the State Fair posted its largest-ever crowd for a Tuesday, 71,199, which beat the previous record of 69,817, set just last year.
- The Fair collected used vegetable oil to convert into biodiesel for use at agricultural research stations operated by the N.C. Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services. Organizers were anticipating collecting about 8,000 gallons of used vegetable oil.
- Christian rapper Toby Mac performed a sold-out show in Dorton Arena on Oct. 18.
- The N.C. State Fair was the first state fair ever played by celebrity chef Bobby Flay, who appeared in Dorton Arena on Oct. 20.
One of the (many) jobs in the press office is to announce the daily winners of the specialty cooking contests through writing press releases and posting recipes and photos to the State Fair’s Web site. Usually, the winning names look familiar, though the names and faces come and go through the years. I would imagine it takes an awful lot of trial-and-error to come up with new recipes each year for these contests, not to mention the time it takes to come to the fairgrounds every day and deliver hot entries.
Some folks only try their hand at one or two contests, sticking to what they know best, then there are a few diehard cooks out there who enter as many as they can. (Some contests state that winners of the previous year’s competition are ineligible to participate the following year.) But, persistence and great cooking skills apparently pays off. Two names that popped up over and over again took home some serious dough for their efforts: Gail Fuller of Raleigh placed in seven competitions, including four first place finishes, for a total payout of $850. Felice Bogus of Raleigh placed five times – 3 blue ribbons – and took home $575. The Boury last name was also familiar this year, with Mary Boury placing in three competitions, while her daughter, Amanda, also placed in three.
Go to the State Fair Web site to check out all the winners and try some recipes for yourself.
Special thanks to our sponsors for bringing these competitions to the N.C. State Fair!
The Demolition Derby at the N.C. State Fair wrapped up its final bone-crunching heats tonight and we have names of the drivers who were the last ones standing, i.e. THE WINNERS.
In the 4-cylinder feature heat, Tony Camptella of Raleigh finished first in the Moonshine Express, after eliminating Jimmy Goodman of Topsail Beach who drove the number 121 car.
In the 6-cylinder feature heat, Ricky Cooke of Jamestown knocked out Jimmy Goodman of Topsail Beach for bragging rights.
In the 8-cylinder feature heat, Chris Lane of Goldsboro beat out fellow Goldsboro driver Donald Stokes for first place.
And finally, in the Women’s feature, Nikki Goins of Goldsboro beat Wendy Thornton of Mt. Olive to take the title.
Congratulations to all the winners!
“I’m ready to go . . .”
This pictures by Stephen VanNortwick of Raleigh won “Best N.C. State Fair Scene” in this year’s photography competition, and I think it could not be any better. I only wish I would have spotted the four nuns on the Midway.
We dedicated State Fair Press Office types consider it our duty to sample a variety of foods during the fair. After all, if we are to be credible sources of information about State Fair cuisine, we must do extensive research. A couple of us take this work so seriously that we write up a “wish list” so we can keep track of our consumption (see above).
As you’ll notice by the scratch marks and checks, we made a lot of progress this year — and consumed a lot of calories. All in the name of public service.
In an unassuming white tent behind the Kerr Scott Building, you’ll find one of the most rocking events at the Fair. The Folk Festival has been entertaining visitors and preserving traditional N.C. music and dance for 60 years, getting many a hand clapping and many a toe tapping.
The video is introduced by Annette Pulley, a Folk Festival veteran who is the superintendent over all the two-steppers and tunesmiths. It was first established in 1948 to promote and preserve traditional music and dance of our state and the talented people who perform. Twice a day, amateur hopefuls perform for judges in hopes of being crowned.
I stopped in on some of the junior cloggers, backed by a traditional band and fiddlers and pickers. The tent often feels like more like a family reunion or revival, as you can tell by the yells and clapping.