RALEIGH — The N.C. State Fair is all about tradition for most people. A fried turkey leg or roasted ear of corn. That mandatory ferris wheel ride or tilt-a-whirl. The annual stroll through the livestock barns.
Even with all that tradition, fair goers also expect something more, something new – something that could become another tradition.
As always, fair organizers and Powers Great American Midways does not disappoint.
How does a deep-fried Girl Scout cookie sound? Delicious, right? S2 Concessions has partnered with the local Pines of the Carolinas Girl Scout chapter to bring us Deep Fried Caramel deLites (aka Samoas). Chocolate, caramel, coconut ... that one can’t miss.
But before dessert, grab a Philly Cheese Steak Egg Roll or Pig Butt on a Stick (a big slab of marinated pork on a stick). The Pig Butt, from a new vendor called Chester’s Gators and Taters, was very popular at the Dixie Classic Fair in Winston-Salem.
New on the midway
The midway will offer thrill-seekers two new rides this year: the Genesis and the Rock Star.
The Genesis is faster than a Ferris Wheel, but not too extreme, according to Marc Janus of Powers Great American Midways. So, it should be safe for full tummies.
The Rock Star is a guitar-shaped ride that goes pretty fast. Janus says this one is “blinged out” and better for teenagers and adults.
Both rides are decked out with bright LED lights. In a green note, Janus pointed out that about 80 percent of the lights on their rides have been changed over to the more energy-efficient option.
Talk with the animals
Just don’t touch them! Unless you’re in one of the special petting zoos this year, you will have to stay far away from livestock.
The new rules are a result of an e-coli outbreak at last year’s fair, which afflicted 25 people. Fairgoers will no longer be allowed within touching distance of farm animals competing in the Jim Graham Building, the Exposition Center or the Kelley Building. In fact, the Kelley Building will be closed to fairgoers for all but opening weekend.
Also, food vendors who normally set up in the alley between the Graham Building and the Exposition Center have been relocated.
But just to be really safe, wash your hands, people! Like, a lot.
N.C. Brewers Cup
The craft beer brewing competition had an inaugural class of 166 entries. Judging of the first N.C. Brewers Cup was held last weekend, and winners were awarded in commercial and home brewer categories.
Those winners will be on display in the Education building, along with winners from the wine competition. Unfortunately, in keeping with the fair’s no alcoholic beverages rule, the judges are the only ones allowed to taste the entries.
For the first time this year, the fair will present a Varsity Vocal Showcase featuring a cappella groups from N.C. State (Grains of Time and Ladies in Red), Duke (Rhythm & Blue) and UNC-Chapel Hill (UNC Clef Hangers and The UNC Loreleis). The show takes the stage Thursday in Dorton Arena. Admission is $10. The State Fair will donate up to $50,000 collectively to the participating groups, based on the number of tickets sold on behalf of each group. So get out there and support your school! You can order tickets online now, the same as other Dorton concerts. www.ncstatefair.org/2012/Entertainment/DortonConcerts.htm
Scotty and company
If you don’t already have tickets to see 2011 “American Idol” winner Scotty McCreery perform at this year’s fair, you’re out of luck. Both shows starring the Garner native have already sold out.
But there are still plenty of good shows available nightly at Dorton Arena. Country singer Jake Owen will perform (but fair folks say his tickets are going fast), as will Christian singer Michael W. Smith and R&B artist Brian McKnight. For the full list of concerts, go to www.ncstatefair.org/2012/Entertainment/DortonConcerts.htm
The old park-and-ride location on Wake Forest Road in Raleigh is no more. Instead, the North Raleigh CAT bus will leave from the former Westinghouse Building at 2728 Capital Blvd.
All other Raleigh locations are the same for the $4 round-trip ride. For all the information on park-and-ride options in Raleigh, Cary, Durham, Chapel Hill, RTP and Garner, check out http://www.gotriangle.org/go-info/events/#902
Powers Great American Midway has an upgraded guest relations booth on the midway this year. It will be staffed to answer questions about attractions on the midway or about the fair in general.
The booth will post information about special deals and events happening each day. While you’re checking those out, you can also make a pit stop. The location features restrooms and changing stations for babies.
Don’t leave yet. They’re not new, but the nightly fireworks shouldn’t be missed.
Moving the pyrotechnics to a location on Trinity Road last year worked out well, fair officials said, so they’ll stick with that plan again this year. The action starts at 9:45 p.m. and can be viewed from almost anywhere on the fairgrounds.