Raleigh, N.C. — With an opening ceremony at 11 a.m. Friday, the 2012 version of the North Carolina State Fair officially kicks off.
While ride inspectors finished their work Thursday and early birds got to sample the deep-fried cinnamon buns and pig butt, Agriculture Commissioner Steve Troxler's official christening, complete with national anthem, invocation and ribbon-cutting, comes Friday.
The fair is open daily in Raleigh, 8 a.m. to midnight, through Oct. 21. Admission ticket prices are $8 for adults, $3 for children ages 6-12 and free for children under age 5 and adults over age 65. Ride tickets cost $1 each, and most rides require multiple tickets.
When children and parents spend the day at the fairgrounds, the cost can easily soar. In addition to admission and rides, chowing down on that famous fair food can add to the cost. Families can pack a lunch or snacks – wagons, strollers and lunch bags are allowed.
Fair officials encourage families with small children and school groups to come early and on weekdays if possible. Crowds are lightest before the Midway opens at 10 a.m. Friday, the fair's official first day, and Monday are historically two of the least crowded days.
Admission is free on Thursday, Oct. 18, with four cans of Food Lion-brand food. Folks over age 65 and younger than 5 get into the fair for free any day.