The beginning of fall in North Carolina means many things. College football games, a mid semester break for area college students, and most importantly, the North Carolina State Fair. With a new organization heading up the midway, and people coming from all around the state to boast “the best barbeque”, this NC State Fair is different than the previous.
The State Fair started on Friday October 14 and will last until October 23. There are many attractions to take in at the fair, so come with an open mind, an empty stomach, and a good amount of cash. The midway rides are being produced by Wade Shows. They have your general terror dropping rides, ferris wheels, kiddie rides, etc. There are also plenty of animals to see, including but not limited to goats, elephants, camels, lemurs, and donkeys. But perhaps the most exciting part of the fair this year, is the food.
When you approach the midway, you are bombarded with blinking lights and colorful signs indicating where you should eat and what the features are. Don’t worry, take a good look around before you decide; because once you’ve wolfed down a turkey leg the size of Europe, you will then most likely come upon a barbeque stand and wish you had gotten that instead. There are, however, a few that must be indulged in, no matter what kind of diet you are on. It’s the State Fair, there are no eating rules here.
For an appetizer, check out some of the corn on the cob stands. What they do is take many, many, many ears of corn and place them on a huge open roaster, husk still attached at bottom. They then pull them off the grill, dip them in a vat of melted butter, and voila, for $3.00 you have a cob version of heaven. I particularly recommend putting a little salt and pepper on it. Another “snack” type item would be the Wisconsin Cheese Stand. This is the most original food stand at the fair this year, simply because it is the only one of its kind. Their number one sellers are cheese nuggets. They are exactly how they sound, creamy cheddar cheese with triple fried batter around them. Six of these will run you $6.00. Split these with someone if you can, after one you will start to feel quite full. They also offer a dipping sauce for no charge.
If you are looking for a real meal, something to get you full and substitute for dinner, the number one best bet would have to be any one of the barbeque stands that offer seating. These are housed in a permanent structure across from Dorton Arena. Most of these establishments are churches and various types of community organizations from all around the state who come to Raleigh for one week to boast the best barbeque. And may I remind you, barbeque is something that southerners take very seriously. At most places you can get a plate for $8.00-$10.00, which consists of a meat, hush puppies, and a side such as slaw, beans, corn, etc. If you are new to barbeque you might want to just settle for a sandwich which will cost you $5.00.
The sweets at the State Fair are the best you could ever find. It is a sweet tooth’s dream scenario, especially this year. You could go the normal route, fried dough, or a funnel cake, depending from where you originate. A plain piece can cost you $3.00 but toppings such strawberries, fudge, or apples can be added for a charge of $1.50. If you like fruit but prefer it covered in chocolate, a frozen banana should do the trick. It is a fully peeled frozen banana on a stick which is then dipped into hot saucy chocolate, which hardens, and then is dipped into sprinkles or nuts, your choice. This treat on a stick will cost $4.00. Next is the ultimate, the ultimate of what is not healthy, so unhealthy, that many cardiologists shudder at the thought. Fried candy bars, and wait, they are on a stick too! And not only fried candy bars, but fried Twinkies,Oreos, and fried cheesecake. If you can handle this dense amount of food, then go for it, but be prepared to spend at least $5.00.
I realize that this reads as a guide of what not to eat. However, it’s the North Carolina State Fair, and rules are made to be broken. If you are on a strict diet and plan on staying that way, then don’t go to the midway because you will surely be tempted by some of the food you will encounter. I do however recommend a few things to those venturing into this realm of glutton. First, do not over do it. If you feel full, don’t eat anymore, that’s why your full. Secondly, do not eat too much before you attempt to go on some rides; we all know what could happen there. And finally, bring some Tums or Pepto with you, chances are you might need it! Have fun and enjoy the fun food that the North Carolina State Fair has to offer!