I'll tackle the Got to Be NC Festival at the N.C. State Fairgrounds today. Stay tuned for more about Artsplosure in downtown Raleigh tomorrow.
I'm a big fan of the Got to Be NC Festival for many reasons. The big one: Admission and parking are free for the event which is like a mini-State Fair with rides; carnival games; farm animals; food; lots of exhibits and displays; and even a daily tractor parade (that's 1 p.m., Friday, and 11 a.m., Saturday and Sunday).
Gates are open from noon to midnight, Friday; 9 a.m. to midnight, Saturday; and 9 a.m. to 10 p.m., Sunday. Rides run from noon to midnight, Friday; 10 a.m. to midnight, Saturday; and 10 a.m. to 10 p.m., Sunday. The building and exhibit hours are noon to 8 p.m., Friday; 10 a.m. to 8 p.m., Saturday; and 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., Sunday.
Just like the State Fair, I recommend that if you are planning to go, and are able, go as early as you can to avoid the crowds.
If you're going with young children, the festival, like the fair, does allow parents to ride for free on some rides. According to the state's agreement with the carnival company, "all carousels and slides will offer free rides to parents of paying children under 40 inches tall."
I don't know the names of each of the rides, but hope to get an update from the state once it gets a ride list from the carnival company.
Brian Long, public affairs director with the N.C. Department of Agriculture and Consumer Service, which puts on the festival, also highlighted some special events and activities that families will enjoy.
Here's what he recommends:
- There’s a new traveling exhibit from BP promoting the Olympic experience for able-bodied and para-Olympic competitors. It allows participants to get timed running on a short sprint track, use their arm muscles to propel a competition wheelchair, learn about clean fuels and more. The exhibit, which is free, will be located between Dorton Arena and the Graham Building.
- The carnival will offer all-you-can-ride wristbands on two days instead of one: Friday and Sunday. Cost is $20. Wristbands will be sold from noon to 5 p.m. Friday and may be used until midnight. Wristbands will be sold all day Sunday. (They will not be sold or honored on Saturday.)
- Fans of the Keith King BMX shows at the State Fair should enjoy the Trans Jam BMX Contest, which will take place Sunday beginning at 11 a.m. in Dorton Arena. The competition will feature participants of all ages and skill levels contending for prizes and a $1,000 professional purse. The event will also feature bicycle-related exhibitors and vendors, a display of vintage bicycles and an art contest for children. Admission for spectators is free, but there is a fee for competitors. Details are available at www.transjambmx.com.
- The Walmart Grandstand will feature free mechanical bull rides for children from noon to 6 p.m., Friday. Other children’s attractions in the grandstand Friday are a three-legged race at 1:30 p.m., egg and spoon race at 2:30 and stick horse races at 4:30. Registration for the stick horse races begins at 3:30. There is no charge for the races.
- Rocky the Trick Mule returns to the festival to perform a free show at 5 p.m. Friday in the grandstand. The mule also will perform outside the Holshouser Building at 2 p.m. and 7 p.m., Friday, and at 10 a.m., 2 p.m. and 7 p.m. Saturday and Sunday.
- The Agri-Plaza is back with daily barnyard heritage programs plus hands-on educational activities, arts and crafts with an agriculture focus. It will be located between the Expo Center and Graham Building. Activities are free.