What's on Tap

What's on Tap

No headlining concerts at Dorton Arena this year

Posted March 11, 2015
Updated March 12, 2015

— This year's North Carolina State Fair entertainment will be a little more "homegrown."

The fair announced Tuesday that the nightly Dorton Arena headlining concerts will be replaced by the "Homegrown North Carolina" concert series.

In previous years, Dorton Arena has hosted musical acts including Vanilla Ice, Joan Jett and the Blackhearts and "American Idol" winner Scotty McCreery.

The rising cost and competition to book headlining bands played into the decision to try something new this year with nightly entertainment.

"Competition for headline musical entertainment has increased over the past decade, with more venues in the Triangle seeking to fill dates,” fair manager Wesley Wyatt said in a press release. “If concerts were drawing people to the fair who otherwise might not come, that would be one thing. But our visitor surveys show that most people come for the food, carnival rides and exhibits, not to see a concert in Dorton Arena."

During the day, Dorton Arena will also be busy. The State Fair Folk Festival is moving from a large tent behind the Kerr Scott Building to perform free shows at Dorton.

"With the addition of free entertainment like the Folk Festival, the Department of Cultural Resources’ returning World War I exhibit in the lobby, and a focus on emerging North Carolina talent at night, the building will be active throughout the day, and that’s a good thing," Wyatt said.

Performers interested in playing Dorton Arena, the Waterfall Stage or Heritage Circle during this year's State Fair should email fair representatives at fair.entertainment@ncagr.gov.

Information on registration for the State Fair Folk Festival will be available in July in the competitions premium book online at www.ncstatefair.org. Information on registration for the State Fair Folk Festival will be available in July.

The lineup for the “Homegrown North Carolina” concert series will be announced this summer. The 2015 N.C. State Fair is Oct. 15-25.


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  • Arch Maker Mar 12, 2015
    user avatar

    The real problem is the NC Department of Agriculture has a part-time no-experience person booking the concerts.

    Concerts of artists with some name recognition, but not enough to play somewhere big. So they pay them as if they are selling out.

    In the past 4 years, 34 of the 44 concerts lost money and only six of them sold out.

    That's a loss of nearly a million dollars in the past four years.

  • Carl Sommer Mar 12, 2015
    user avatar

    The reason folks don't come for the concerts is because the acoustics in Dorton are gosh awful; you're better off spending your ticket money on iTunes...

  • Angie Cox Mar 12, 2015
    user avatar

    I went to the fair every year since I moved here in 1983. the past couple years I have not went until last year and the ONLY reason why I went was Joan Jett. the traffic is horrible. the lines are too long. there's too many people. the food is disgusting. and the rides are unsafe. it's the same thing every year. I wish they would change it up.

  • Johnny Byrd Mar 12, 2015
    user avatar

    View quoted thread

    Agree 100% Josh.
    It IS the NC State Fair and we are blessed with some great raw talent native to our fine state. The Fair, which is used to showcase NC's best should have been using local talent all along.
    "Headliners" are a waste of money for NC State Fair budgets and not in line with the purpose.

  • Josh Anderson Mar 12, 2015
    user avatar

    I guess I'll be the one who agrees with the decision. This is the NC State Fair. Let's focus on all the good things that come from this state. Heck, I might not know any of these bands, but why not listen to something that might be interesting and I might not know about yet? We go to the fair to see NC grown vegetables, NC raised livestock and to support NC businesses. This just extends that support one more step.

  • Todd Jenkins Mar 11, 2015
    user avatar

    I think the acoustics would be great for a pig calling contest...

  • Jon Nelson Mar 11, 2015
    user avatar

    What a Joke. Look at any other state fair in the USA. They have concerts. NC wont. Hmmmm. I guess no one wants to come to NC to play anymore or the people at the state fair just don't want to put in the effort to book talent? Or are they saying the NC State Fair cant compete and isnt on par with other state fairs in the country ?

  • Patricia Nunn Mar 11, 2015
    user avatar

    What about looking at the concerts that sold the most tickets and schedule similar type concerts? The only reason we went to the fair was to go to the concert on the same night. We have seen some really great concerts there, very sad to see it go.

  • Larry Sutton Mar 11, 2015
    user avatar

    Maybe drop the concerts altogether. Dorton was not built with concerts in mind, and since all the sound guys are apparently deaf, the acoustics do not allow for a good concert experience no matter who it is.