WRAL.com at the State Fair

Fun guide: Tips to enjoy the 2013 NC State Fair

Posted October 17, 2013

— Thursday is the day many have been waiting for all year long. 

The 144th North Carolina State Fair opens at 3 p.m. and runs through Oct. 27. Whether you're planning to go once or every day, here are some tips that can help you make the most of your experience in 2013. 

Basic info

Gates open at 8 a.m. and close at midnight every day, except for Thursday. On the fair's first day, gates don't open until 3 p.m.

Admission ticket prices are $9 for adults, $4 for children ages 6 to 12 and free for children under age 5 and adults over age 65. Report It logo 640x480 Share your fair photos

Get in free on Thursday, Oct. 24, for Food Lion Hunger Relief Day. Bring five cans of Food Lion-brand food and get one free gate admission. The event benefits that Food Bank of Central and Eastern North Carolina. 

Tickets for fair rides will cost $1. They are only available at the Midway ticket booths. Download a fairground map to help you get around. 

If you're looking for a list of events, check out WRAL's calendar of events or the State Fair's daily schedule

Getting to the fair

Your best bet for getting to the fair is a park-and-ride service.

Raleigh's Capital Area Transit is providing round-trip shuttle service to the Hillsborough Street fairgrounds with shuttles on three routes operating every 20 to 30 minutes each day.

The cost is $4 per person except for some children and seniors. More information is available on the City of Raleigh's website or by calling 919-996-3247.

Durham Area Transit Authority and Triangle Transit are also offering shuttle services. More information is available on the State Fair website about pick-up and drop-off sites for each of these services.

Visit WRAL News at the fair!

We hope one of your first stops will be at the WRAL News tent near Dorton Arena. Come by and say hello and meet the TV news team (check out the complete schedule) before heading off for the food, rides, exhibits and competitions. Report It logo 640x480 Share your fair photos

You can also keep up with the latest food creations, recipes and interesting rides and exhibits on WRAL-TV's morning, noon and evening newscasts and at WRAL.com's State Fair coverage.

New food, rides and exhibits

Every year, the North Carolina State Fair aims to tantalize your taste buds with new deep-fried treats.

The Krispy Kreme Bacon Cheeseburger made a splash at the fair several years ago, but this year it's all about the Krispy Kreme Sloppy Joe! This time a Sloppy Joe mixture topped with cheddar cheese will reside between two glazed doughnuts. Messy, but pretty tasty.

On the deep-fried front, pink lemonade funnel cake and red velvet deep-fried Oreos topped with cream cheese are the latest twist on these fair staples. Two popular candies are also getting deep fried this year. Joining the traditional chocolate bars (Milky Way, Snicker's, Peanut Butter Cup, etc.) is the Sugar Daddy and Cow Tales.

Some new rides occupying the midway this year include a new children's train ride dubbed the Gold Rush Express. Surf's Up will allow riders to stand up like they are riding a skateboard or surf board as they head down a track and over hills. State Fair rides Fair rides get OK'd ahead of Thursday's opening

The Stampede, a take on the double Ferris Wheel, will be making its debut at the fair. It's coming straight from the factory to Raleigh, said Corky Powers, spokesman for Powers Great American Midways. This ride lets users face out as they spin in one of two wheels.

You might also notice some new performers roaming the fairgrounds. The Gantry Bike by Cirque Mechanics, K-9s in Flight dog show and Hansen’s Spectacular Acrobatic Sensations are among the new acts.

This year's state fair is also home to a new exhibit, Agriculture Today. Presented by the state's soybean farmers, this exhibit gives visitors have a hands-on learning experience through interactive stations. It will feature a 10-foot-tall soybean fountain, a biochemistry stage and a carnival-like information challenge. It will be located near Gate 11.

This year's fair does not have a petting zoo. Fair spokesman Brian Long says the concern over the spread of illness made it impossible for the petting zoo operator to get liability insurance.

But there will be plenty of animals to see at the fair.

Eat lunch at the fair

If you're an adult looking to take advantage of fair food during the lunch hour, there is a chance to avoid the $9 admission fee. 

Enter Gate 9 off of Trinity Road or Gate 1 off of Hillsborough Street after 11:30 a.m. on weekdays to purchase a weekday lunch pass. The pass costs $9, but if you leave prior to 1:30 p.m. at the same gate you enter, you will receive a refund. 


This blog post is closed for comments.

Oldest First
View all
  • Inside The Beltline Oct 17, 2013

    "Ha ha.....everyone saying negative things about the fair makes me laugh; probably the same folks that are negative toward everything downtown Raleigh." - UpChuck

    I'm happy to say I love Downtown Raleigh because I don't have to see the kind of people who go to the fair.

  • Pirate01 Oct 17, 2013

    The State Fair is fun.....just do not go on Friday night, Saturday or Sunday.

  • Obamacare rules Oct 17, 2013

    Once again, The Hans is right on. I couldn't have said it better myself.

  • The Hans Oct 17, 2013

    Why on EARTH would anyone do the "eat lunch at the fair" thing when you can go eat far better, and far cheaper, elsewhere? SMH.

  • trunkmonkee1971 Oct 17, 2013


  • BeastieBoy Oct 17, 2013

    Here's a tip: avoid disease and exposing yourselves to genetic experiments, stay away.

  • 60000Feet Oct 17, 2013

    Wow...thebaldguy, The Hans, etc. PLEASE STAY HOME! Over a million people each year find the N.C. State Fair to be a welcome and enjoyable experience. They come from all parts of the state and even from other states. Not everyone wants to go to the fair, obviously you are some of these. If you are not happy then go pound some nails or beat a stick on some rocks to relieve your pent-up frustrations but don't vent it here. Move along...move along...

  • gobbledygook Oct 17, 2013

    I'm surprised they allowed "eat lunch at fair" this year again..... So many people abused it last year... They get their money back before 1:30PM but still able to get back in to enjoy the rest of the day + night.

  • kathryn21 Oct 17, 2013

    I'm very excited about the fair! October is my favorite month: it's my birthday and fair time! There is no where I'd rather spend my birthday Monday than at the fair! One reason I love it so much is it truly is "North Carolina's Homecoming" for me! I see so many of my friends from N. C. State that I don't get the chance to see any other way due to our locations.

    Obamacare is Here...No need to use a port-a-potty! The women's bathrooms at the Village of Yesteryear are super clean! The attendant is awesome! Actually most of the bathrooms I've been to at the fair are very clean thanks to their attendants!

  • BigBrokeBill Oct 17, 2013

    I won't go this year due to upcoming back surgery (I acquired a new, painful, dance step!), but I hope everyone who goes has a great time!