The Got to Be NC Festival runs this Friday through Sunday at the N.C. State Fairgrounds in Raleigh.
The annual event is sort of a mini N.C. State Fair with rides, animals, demonstrations, games and more. But here's the great part about it: It's free! There is no fee for either parking or admission.
Some tips if you're going with kids:
1. One parent may accompany a child under 40" in height at no additional cost when the child presents a paid ticket for the carousel or slide rides only.
2. Want to beat the crowds? Get there as soon as gates open at noon, Friday. Organizers also suggest going in the morning on Saturday or Sunday. Gates open at 9 a.m. those days.
3. The festival this year includes several new attractions, from an interactive dinosaur exhibit to pirate reenactors and educators to an antique construction equipment. You'll find:
- Dakota & Friends, an interactive and informational dinosaur exhibit featuring Dakota, a moving, life-size Deinonycus. In the exhibit, visitors will have a chance to interact with Dakota and pet a baby Tyrannosaurus Rex. The attraction also includes other dinosaurs, exploding volcanoes, natural dinosaur habitats and more.
- Shadow Players, a stage combat group that portrays and re-creates scenes from the golden age of piracy.
- Bulldozer Display and Demonstration from the Antique Caterpillar Machinery Owners Club Chapter 12, which will bring more than a dozen antique bulldozers and pull-behind scrapers for display and demonstrations. Members will hold daily demonstrations in the Grandstand.
4. You can take advantage of an N.C. State Fair ticket deal if you go to the festival. The discounted adult fair tickets will be $5 each. Just six tickets are allowed per customer. Only 2,500 discounted tickets will be available. Tickets will be available at the ticket booth near the waterfall and are first come, first served.
5. And, of course, old favorites are returning.
- Fireworks are at 9:15 p.m., Friday and Saturday.
- The Antique Farm Equipment parade is 1 p.m., daily. Dozens of pieces will tour the fairgrounds.
- The Grandstand features Wake County Sheriff's K9 Unit demonstrations, antique tractor pulls and flag presentations on horseback.
- The Agri-Plaza, between the Jim Graham and Expo buildings, includes opportunities to see baby chicks hatch on the spot, learn how to manage your own backyard chickens, milk a cow, learn how to milk a goat and see a variety of other animals.
- Pig races happen multiple times each day on the Hogway Speedway near the Martin Building.
- And, finally, rabbit agility shows, which I wrote about during last year's State Fair, are planned a couple of times a day Friday through Sunday.
It all happens at the N.C. State Fairgrounds off Blue Ridge Road in west Raleigh.