Bill Leslie's Carolina Conversations

State Fair Memories

Posted October 12, 2007

What are your favorite childhood memories of the State Fair?

And who is your favorite craftsman in the Village of Yesteryear?

I would love to hear your comments.

I wish I had some childhood midway memories. But I grew up in the foothills and never made it to Raleigh for the big autumn show. The best I could do was the Burke County Fair which was a lot of fun. I think my favorite ride back then was the Scrambler. I became an early fancier of funnel cake and cotton candy. I remember quarters flying out of my blue jeans while zipping around on the roller coaster.

As for crafts people I have met many of the exhibitors in my travels around the state as a reporter in the 80's and 90's. I still use my beautiful dough bowl crafted by Ed Briggs who has been a regular at the State Fair Village of Yesteryear since 1988. Please say "hey" to Ed and all of the other fine crafts people.

Okay, what are your memories and who are your craft favorites.

By the way, I'll be vacationing away from the computer next week. Carolina Conversations will return in a week or so. I have just secured that coveted grits and grouper recipe from Charleston. I will share that when I get back and also the ultimate recipe for pumpkin bread.


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  • ArkAngels Oct 19, 2007

    I remember the original blacksmith that came to the fair every year, Bea Hensley. He and his son Mike came down from Spruce Pine every year to do the fair. I still have one of the pieces he use to make while at the fair called "From the Mountains to the Sea." It had a leaf on one end and the scroll of an ocean wave on the other.

    I also remember Woody's Chair Shop coming down too. They made on of the best well balanced rocking chairs around. My dad got one and I have that now.

    Then there were the Volkert's, Herb and Doris. They did fine woodworking. Their son (cannot remember his name now) did beautiful scrimshaw work.

    Then there was the guy (cannot remember his name either) that made the Gee Haw Whimmy Diddle. He was in the old Village of Yesteryear along with the Volkert's and Woody's Chair Shop. I never did get the hang of making that Gee Haw Whimmy Diddle work, but it was fun to try and fun to watch them make it work.

    These are a few of themy fond memories of the fair.

  • rogerkneebend Oct 17, 2007

    For me, it's always been about the rides and the food. Though I usually wait and eat after I've been on the rides - certainly not beforehand.

  • Furious George Oct 16, 2007

    "Oh yeah, and I'll never forget this one guy announcing all the kind of pie they have. It's right in front of the waterfall."

    Ha, that's the Apex Lions Club recording. The funny thing is that I always thought that guy's recording was awesome, and then last year my friends and I decided we were finally going to go get us some of the "all kinds of piiiie in here" that he was always talking about. So we go in, and I ordered a slice of pecan pie, and. . . they took a Mrs. Smith's pie out of the freezer and thawed it. I was disappointed to say the least.

    I did go back this year in the interest of giving them another chance, and I must say that was a fine ham biscuit.

  • jaynet Oct 14, 2007

    Oh, and my craft favorites have to be the Village of Yesteryear, everything and everybody in it. I love seeing the handmade crafts. As a small scale crafter (at times) myself, I can appreciate the love, time and effort it takes to produce handmade items. Unfortunately, in our "forget the quality, how cheap can I get it world" crafters can hardly ever get paid what their wares are truly worth. And these are items that last, they can be handed down from generation to generation. And although the Village of Yesteryear is aaaalllllll the way at the other end of the fairgrounds from the Folk Festival, I always make time to battle the crowds and find my way down there.

  • jaynet Oct 13, 2007

    Clogging at the Folk Festival every year since 1980. 1st with my granddaddy's team, the Craven County Cloggers, & since 1991 with my team, the East Country Hoedowners. Being recognized at the Folk Festival's 50th Anniversary celebration for having 4 generations of my family perform there. My grandparents, my dad, myself, & my children. I live in Wilson, & after my kids were born I would take them to the fair on weekdays & clog with the House team. They did 3 shows a day back then. Most performers & cloggers went on the weekends, so they were always looking for dancers during the week. I remember the superintendent, Annette Pulley, holding my 9 mo old daughter on her hip & sitting my 3 yr old son at the keyboard (turned off, of course) so I could dance. Each year is like a family reunion! Seeing Annette & Audrey & Ellis & the judges & band members, & some of the performers who are always there when we are. We dance this year on Tuesday, come watch us clog & make sure you say hi!

  • WakkaWakka Oct 13, 2007

    One of my favorite memories was from when I went to NC State. Every night of the fair I could watch the fireworks from my dorm room. My roommate and I pulled our chairs up to the windows that faced the direction of the fair grounds, and ate snacks while we watched them.

  • mrtwinturbo Oct 13, 2007

    Is this one of the new attractions?

  • dhall357 Oct 12, 2007

    I am 58 and I can not remember missing the State Fair. I grew up in Alamance Co. and you could get out of school to go to the fair. You had to have a note and go to school and then your parents could come get you. To me it was as exciting as Christmas. Always went with my cousins and we would head straight to the old waterfall to see if the ducks were still there. When I was about 11 my first cousin and I spotted a roll of money on the ground near the midway. We split it and had $20 each. We spent every penny on the midway and got only two small prizes.

  • For-Better-Or-Worse Oct 12, 2007

    I am a native North Carolinian and the State Fair has been part of our life as long as I can remeber. One of my earliest memories was going to the fair with my Mom and it started to rain, we got a box of Kentucky Fried Chicken (they actually had a tent there many many many years ago) and we went to the Dorton Arena and watched the show.

  • tamrusso Oct 12, 2007

    My greatest memory of the Fair was in the 60's. My Grandmother, Mary Jones, an accomplished artist worked in the Art Gallery and my Grandfather, Wiley Jones,worked as a Deputy Sheriff and was widely known. Grandaddy enjoyed showing off his only granddaughter and we walked together thru the midway meeting carnies and greeting our friends, the Strates family (but I never met the "hoochie coochie" girls!) He introduced me to a one-armed man named Blackie who ran the "nickel on the spot" game (very difficult but the biggest prizes). When we left, I carried a purple dog larger than me (that's when I learned a smile can work wonders!) I will never forget Blackie and especially the memories of my Grandparents!!




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