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Step right up to the 2023 NC State Fair

From Oct. 12 through Oct. 22, folks from all over will flock to the City of Oaks for the the NC State Fair. Keep reading to plan ahead for this fall Raleigh tradition.

A ton of people at the NC State Fair.

What is your favorite part of this Raleigh tradition?

Photo by Justin Kase Conder via NC State Fair

It’s almost time for every fall-loving Raleighite’s favorite tradition: The NC State Fair. It comes as no surprise that according to Country Living, the City of Oaks throws the ninth coolest state fair around the US. From Thursday, Oct. 12 through Sunday, Oct. 22, nearly 1 million folks will flock to our fairgrounds to consume fried foods, experience new attractions, and watch livestock competitions.

Bonus: The section of Hillsborough Street that intersects with Blue Ridge Road and passes the NC State Fairgrounds is open in a temporary pattern and should be finalized in late 2024.

Keep reading for your guide to 10 days of thrills and chills at the NC State Fair.

Race you to the ticket booth

Advance discounted tickets are available now until Thursday, Oct. 12 at the NC State Fairgrounds, NC Museum of History, and State Farmers Market. Ticket prices are $10 for an adult advance ticket and $13 at the gate.

The fair has several other discounts in place for community members. Specialty pricing includes $8 tickets with the daily military discount, $8 admission on Oct. 12 with an NC State student ID, and fair-goers can bring six cans of food to get in for free on Thursday, Oct. 19 during Hunger Relief Day benefiting Food Bank of Central & Eastern NC and its partners.


Take a double-decker carousel ride on the intricate Venetian Carousel.

Photo by Frank W. Koch via NC State Fair

Next stop: Ferris wheels + livestock

The fair is introducing four new rides to this year’s seasonal celebration. The most notable carnival attraction is the two-tiered Venetian Carousel complete with intricate details. Fair-goers will also be able to enjoy the new Tesla AC, Techno, and Wipeout rides. But don’t forget about long-time staples like the State Fair Flyer.

Once your head stops spinning, check out the judging schedule to cheer on this year’s livestock competitors and head to the Waterfall Music Stage for live Homegrown Music Fest performances.

Someone holding a cup of chicken and mac and cheese.

City Editor Cat’s favorite stop is the Hot Chix food truck.

Photo by RALtoday

Just here for the fried dough

Though this year’s new foods have not yet been announced, our mouths are watering just thinking about Howling Cow ice cream scoops, corn on the cop, and turkey legs galore. This year, serious eaters can participate in deep fried bingo to win prizes.

If you want to miss the crowd and enjoy lunch at the fair, adults can visit Gate 9 off of Trinity Road or Gate 1 off of Hillsborough Street after 11:30 a.m. during the weekdays. The lunch crowd can purchase a $10 lunch card (cash only), eat until their heart’s desire, then return the lunch card by 1:30 p.m. to receive a full $10 cash refund.

Other dates to keep in mind are Access Ability Day on Sunday, Oct. 15 from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., Senior Citizen’s Day on Tuesday, Oct. 17, and Military Appreciation Day on Wednesday, Oct. 18.

Did you know this is the fair’s 170th year in Raleigh? That popped a question in our minds — what’s your favorite part of this more-than-century old tradition? Send us an email and share your memories.

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