12 things to eat + do at the 2021 NC State Fair, happening Oct. 14-24

The North Carolina State Fair starts tomorrow | Photo provided

Stephanie here. 👋 As a born + bred Raleighite, there’s nothing I love more than the North Carolina State Fair. Between funnel cakes, Ferris wheels + the cute animals at the NC Ag booth, it’s basically the best fall tradition ever

Since we didn’t get to go to the fair last year, this year is going to be worth the wait. Did you know it’s been 735 days since the last state fair? Not like we’re counting. 👀 

🎡 NC State Fair fast facts 

📅 Oct. 14-24

🕖 8 a.m.-11 p.m., Sunday-Thursday; 8 a.m.- midnight, Friday & Saturday

📍 NC State Fairgrounds, 4285 Trinity Rd.  

🎟️ Grab your ticket to ride 

Fairgoers have until 11:59 p.m. on Oct. 14th to snag advance sale tickets: adults for $10 and kids 6-12 or seniors 65+ for $5. After that, prices will increase to $13 for adults and $7 for kids.

Little ones under 5 always get in free and seniors 65+ are $5 except on Tues., Oct. 19 when seniors are admitted free of charge.

One of the best things about the NC State Fair is the variety of deals and discounts they offer on tickets, like:

  • Dizzy Pass: Get 1 FastTrack gate admission ticket + 1 unlimited ride wristband. These are only available in advance.
  • Smithfield Food Hunger Relief Day: On Thurs., Oct. 21, bring 6 cans of food + get in free. 
  • Senior Day: Seniors get in free on Tues., Oct. 9. Plus, free Bojangles breakfast at 9 a.m. 
  • Friday Frenzy: Show a student ID and get $8 admission on Fri, Oct. 15. 
The fair has ~100 rides for kids + adults | Photo provided

You can find maps + directions here, and learn how parking works here. Pro tip: There will be a clear bag policy for the first time this fall, so make sure to plan accordingly.   

🎟️ What’s new this year? 

  • A bigger and better NC Ag Pavilion. We love checking out all the amazing local products at the Got to Be NC Ag Pavilion, and this fall it’s moving from outside the Scott Building to Dorton Arena. Expect cooking demonstrations, pop-up competitions, and more. 
  • A new look for the State Fair Conservation Forest, presented by Enviva. The NC Forest Service, Soil + Water Conservation, and NC Dept. of Agriculture are collaborating to cover the side of their shared building with 100+ trees native to North Carolina
NC State Fair deep fried Oreos | Photo provided

🍦 Good eats, good drinks 

Obviously, deep fried Oreos are a must. But there’s so much more, like:

  • For craft beer lovers, the NC Public House is the place to be. Catch them at their new location in the South Dorton Arena Lobby to experience award-winning craft beer, wine, cider, and soda from local breweries and wineries. 
  • NC State Fair staples like the Cheerwine Funnel Cake + exciting new options, like lobster rolls, stuffed avocados, and Jamaican jerk chicken sliders.
Ferris Wheel eyes | Photo provided

🎉 Can’t-miss celebrations 

You can plan out your perfect night at the fair using the Daily Schedule guide — here are some of our top picks:

  • Homegrown Music Fest | Oct. 14-24 | Music lovers, this one’s for you. The Homegrown Music Fest takes place over 11 days and 2 stages for a total of 105 concerts from all-NC  musicians. Best of all? It’s free with your ticket.    
  • Folk Festival | Oct. 14-24 | Heritage Circle | One word: clogging. 
  • Flower + Garden Show | 9 a.m.-9:45 p.m. daily (except Thurs., Oct. 14, when the exhibit will open at 12 p.m.) | This may or may not be our favorite part of the fair. The Flower Show is right by the Village of Yesteryear, and features bonsai, annuals, perennials, special arrangements + more
  • State Fair Ark | 9 a.m.-9:45 p.m. daily (except Thurs., Oct. 14, when the exhibit will open at 12 p.m.) | Exposition Center | Think: where all the baby animals are. 

💛 Feel good facts

  • Did you know? The NC State Fair hosts the largest mobile carnival in North America.
  • It’s also the largest event in North Carolina, with close to 1 million people in attendance each year.
  • Local starts here. The state fair is also the first fair in the country to showcase talents with state roots at the Homegrown Music Fest, which features an all local music line-up. 
NC State Fair rollercoasters | Photo provided

It’s fair to say that after a year off, we couldn’t be more excited to ride the Ferris wheel, eat funnel cake, and check out everything that the NC State Fair has to offer. Stay in the loop on daily specials, events + announcements via the fair’s Facebook, Twitter + Instagram.