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NC State Fair testing another spot for beer sales – concerts

Sampling craft beers at the NC State Fair

Jamal Foster and Jason Whye, visiting from Baltimore, sample craft beer at the NC State Fair's beer-sampling area. This is the first year beer and wine is being offered at the fair.
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Jamal Foster and Jason Whye, visiting from Baltimore, sample craft beer at the NC State Fair's beer-sampling area. This is the first year beer and wine is being offered at the fair.

Turns out you can get beer in more than one place at the North Carolina State Fair.

Beer is being sold at two of this year’s Dorton Arena concerts in standard servings. This is in addition to a controlled tasting area that serves small samples of wine and craft beers.

Beer was available at Saturday’s show featuring the country band Parmalee. It also will be on tap for Friday night’s beach-music concert with Chairmen of the Board, featuring Ken Knox.

But like the Our State Public House, which checks IDs at the door and limits sales to one flight of samples per person, the Dorton Arena concerts also have guidelines.

For the shows with beer sales, Dorton’s Murphy House concessionaire sells 16-ounce cups of craft beers at a cart on the arena floor. Consumption is allowed only inside the seating area, not in the lobbies or outside.

The cost per beer is $7, and no one can buy more than one. Vending staff stamps customers to prevent any repeat buyers.

“We wanted to test it at a couple of shows,” said Brian Long, spokesman for the fair as well as the North Carolina Department of Agriculture. “It’s something the Brewers Guild was interested in, and we said we’ll test it at a couple of shows to see how it goes.”

After 150 years of being alcohol-free, the fair introduced beer and wine sales for the first time this year, with the intention of showcasing the state’s wineries and craft breweries. Throughout the fair, 42 breweries and 27 wineries will have rotating samples.

Most of the consumption takes place at the Our State Public House, located in the Heritage Circle area between Gates 6 and 8. Drinks are served from noon to 8:30 p.m.

No one under legal drinking age is admitted to the tasting area, where flights of craft beer or wine cost $10. A flight includes four 4-ounce tastings of beer or four 1 1/2-ounce tastings of wine. Customers are limited to one flight per day.

So far, the response has been good, officials say. Around 8,000 people had partaken of beer or wine samples through Monday, said Fawn Pattison, who is the interim executive director of the Craft Brewers Guild. The sales are from a partnership with the N.C. Craft Brewers Guild and the N.C. Wine and Grape Council.

By contrast, beer sales at Dorton during the Homegrown Music Festival Saturday show weren’t publicized.

“We just didn’t want to make a big deal about it,” said Long. “I have been told there were no problems associated with (beer sales) the other night.”

David Menconi: 919-829-4759, @NCDavidMenconi

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