Go Ask Mom

Go Ask Mom

Help a Mom: Share your fair tips, must-sees

Posted October 9, 2012

The N.C. State Fair opens Friday! The celebration of North Carolina agriculture, crafts, music and more, with lots of rides, carnival games and food thrown in too, runs through Oct. 21.

The folks at the fair offered some general tips and recommendations here on Go Ask Mom earlier this week. Click here to read the post, which includes details on which rides parents of young kids can ride for free, when to go to beat the crowds and lots of other information.

But what are your favorites at the fair? Is there a contest or booth that you can't miss? Is there food that you always have to eat? Is there a ride your kids can't get enough of? Do you have tips for keeping costs low for those of us on a tight budget?

In my family, we're not big on the rides and games. When we go, we go as early as we can to beat the crowds and mostly wander in and out of the exhibition halls to see the animals and check out all the contest entries. But I have three favorite spots that I won't miss. Here they are:

The Marbles and UNC-TV tent near Dorton Arena. I featured this last year and will have more about what they have this year early next week, but this is a great place for kids 10 and under. The tent features all kinds of free opportunities to have some low-key, Marbles fun and meet UNC-TV characters. I come here with my kids when I need a break from the midway and all of the attractions.

Howling Cow Ice Cream stand. I fell in love with this ice cream during my first visit to the fair many years ago and now, I always get a cone. Of course, I have since learned that you can actually buy this creamy, delicious ice cream year round on N.C. State's campus (dangerous information for me). But I will still indulge in a cone next week too. It's just tradition. You can find it near the Village of Yesteryear, which brings me to ...

The Village of Yesteryear. My older daughter, in particular, has enjoyed walking through to watch the artists and craftspeople do their thing. The lawn around the village also is a nice place to relax (with a cone of Howling Cow). While my kids are finishing their ice cream with their dad, I have been known to sneak back in to buy Christmas ornaments and stocking stuffers.

Share your favorite fair tips and must-see spots in the comments box below. (If you don't see the comments box below, you'll need to log in or sign up for a WRAL account. You can do that by going to the top of the page and clicking on either "log in" or "register").

Help a Mom usually features questions from readers every Wednesday. If you have a question that you'd like to ask Go Ask Mom readers, click here to email it to me.


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  • Whosays Oct 19, 2012

    They have lots of stuff for kids to do this year at the fair, beside the Vilkage of Yesteryear you can make your own Salvation bracelet, and I saw some other beading tables for the kids. So even though you lost the ability to pet the animals, they have well made up for it in other things they let the kids do. Some of the farm exhibits have things for them to do as well.

  • jctrotman Oct 14, 2012

    We love the shows in Kiddieland...Magic 4 U, Hubba Bubba. This year we show Spoonman and my three year old got to play spoons on stage. He loved it and has watched the video several times. My eight year old loved the Amazing Arthur magic that was near the expo center. We also love the man in the purple car in Kiddieland that draws free caricatures of the fairgoers. That has been a hit for years.

  • angelienna Oct 11, 2012

    When my son was younger when we would go I would take a business card and give it to each child in our group. On the back would have all the adults in our parties cell phone numbers and names. One year we had a boy get separated from the crowd as he kept walking.. when I found him he was holding up the card while crying for another mom to look at. Even scared he did the right thing and that is why we did this because scared kids can't remember the important details! Also made sure my kid as a really young guy knew our full names and not just mommy or grandad... Have fun, be safe and we always gave our extra ride tickets to families that had lots of kids and especially young ones... made my son feel good :)

  • americaneel Oct 11, 2012

    They have the world's biggest alligator but I haven't seen him move in 5 years

  • busyb97 Oct 11, 2012

    @americaneel - too funny. I didn't remember seeing those specifically- but I miss alot! I do know that there are a few of those places you have to pay money to go in and see the world's tiniest horse or something behind the tent wall (don't remember what the pitch is). Not many- so I just assumed it was something in there. :) But the fair does have a couple of those TYPES of money-"black holes", along the different midways.

  • americaneel Oct 11, 2012

    busyb97...That was actually a joke, they don't have those at the fair.

  • busyb97 Oct 10, 2012

    Oh. This year, we're going to try to get a King Action Sports Stunt show too. I think my boys would like it. Maybe one of these years, we'll get to the Tractor Pull. I used to love seeing that as a kid (even as a girl!). They'd like the Demolition Derby too. This year the schedule won't jive with our's though.

  • busyb97 Oct 10, 2012

    "Must sees:
    Bearded Lady; Fat lady; two-headed woman; alligator man; three headed sheep; Lizard man; Mr. Elastica; Elephant man"

    I think that would give a kid nightmares! It might give me nightmares....yikes. :-) We avoid those sorts of gimmicks. I pay enough to get into the fair and for the rides and any food. I'm not tossing money on games and those things.

  • lilypony Oct 10, 2012

    Mom of little kids here --- We go on Sunday or Friday morning and its never crowded We get up early as if we were going to school/work and head out super early. Do all the exhibits first. There's little complaint from the peanut gallery because they're not tired yet and the rides aren't open yet. Each gets one sheet of bought-in-advance ride tickets. When they're gone, that's it. They're never to young to learn budgeting. Sometimes s nice family donates the missing ticket or two for an extra ride... Sometimes we're that nice family who donates the leftovers. We don't eat lunch there but the family shares an assortment of fair goodies. We don't eat lunch there usually but I do bring a light snacky lunch for the ride home. We've never bought toys or played games. They don't even ask, they already know! We're always done with time for a good nap.

  • americaneel Oct 10, 2012

    Must sees:

    Bearded Lady; Fat lady; two-headed woman; alligator man; three headed sheep; Lizard man; Mr. Elastica; Elephant man