As the State Fair enters its final weekend, the N.C. Insider surveyed North Carolina Council of State members about their favorite parts of the fair and what they look forward to every year. Here's what they had to say:
Governor Roy Cooper's must see attractions at the fair are the animals and the agricultural demonstrations. Every year he makes sure to grab a caramel apple with nuts. He said his favorite thing about the fair is the heritage craft exhibit at the Village of Yesteryear. "The State Fair is a wonderful place for families from across the state to come together for some annual fun as well as a celebration of our rich agricultural history in North Carolina," he said.
Lt. Governor Dan Forest said the ferris wheel is a must-visit attraction for him every year, but his favorite thing about the fair is the pig races. When it comes to fair food he goes for the mini donuts, but is "willing to try anything fried and dipped in chocolate."
Secretary of State Elaine Marshall is a big fan of the 4-H competitions. As a 4-H alum herself, she loves seeing the kids participating. She also enjoys greeting fairgoers – especially the kids – at the Secretary of State's booth in the Kerr Scott building. "I think it's important for schoolchildren, especially girls, to have that experience of meeting and talking to state officials. It's important for them to have that example early on and know that is something they can aspire to," she said. And she said the new tuna bites at Basnight's Lone Cedar Cafe were delicious.
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State Treasurer Dale Folwell said the attractions he likes every year are the Village of Yesteryear and the botanical garden exhibits. His food of choice is the House-Autry hushpuppies. One of the best things about the fair, he said, is seeing the law enforcement and first responders in their dress uniforms "and the marvel in kids' eyes when they talk with them." He added that he also enjoys being able to give away cash from the N.C. Cash Program – this year, he was able to present the Food Bank with a check for over $16,000.
Attorney General Josh Stein has to try and win the squirt gun contest each year, he said. He usually plays until he wins, "which means I end up paying $20 to win a $2 stuffed animal." As far as food is concerned, his go-to item is a turkey leg, and this year he tried scallops from Lone Cedar, which he described as incredible. His favorite thing about the State Fair? Being surrounded by 50,000 people, "all with smiles on their faces."
Labor Commissioner Cherie Berry said her favorite attraction at the fair is working at the North Carolina Department of Labor booth and "taking selfies with all the visitors." As far as food goes, she loves anything fried with a muscadine slushy "to wash it down with." She said sometimes she'll have two slushies when she's there. Before the fair started, Berry said she was excited about the new Thanksgiving eggroll. Her verdict? "I tasted the Thanksgiving eggroll on media day at the fair and it was delicious. Now, all I need for Thanksgiving dinner is a bowl of popcorn and a glass of wine with my kitty cats." This year her favorite thing was the new craft beer and wine tasting at the Our State Public House. "I enjoyed several flights of North Carolina craft beers there after business hours, of course," she said.
State Auditor Beth Wood said the attraction that is a must-visit for her are the exhibits in the Kerr Scott Building, and there's one particular vendor called Fan Feet that she goes to every year to see what new products they have. They specialize in handmade shoes and booties for the major universities across the nation. She said she didn't try any of the new food this year, but did go for the "old familiar corndogs, roasted corn and homemade lemonade." She said her favorite thing about the fair is the rides – "the wilder, the faster, the better."
Agriculture Commissioner Steve Troxler goes a bit old school for his favorite attractions at the fair. He has to visit the Village of Yesteryear and Heritage Circle. For food, his go-to items are french fries, bloomin’ onions and butter pecan ice cream. Since he's the most visible Council of State member at the fair, he's gotten to try a lot of the new foods. At a pre-fair media lunch, he tried the jerk barbecue ribs, firecracker shrimp and the roasted chicken breast with country ham and pimento cheese cream sauce. And his favorite thing about the fair? "Seeing people have fun," he said.
State Superintendent Mark Johnson was unable to respond, but his spokesman confirmed Johnson attended the fair this year for the State Highway Patrol's Operation Stop Arm school bus safety event.
Insurance Commissioner Mike Causey did not respond.
The North Carolina State Fair runs through Sunday, Oct. 22.
Colin Campbell of the N.C. Insider contributed.