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Go Ask Mom

Go Ask Mom

Go early, bring sanitizer: Our tips for attending the NC State Fair

Posted October 19, 2021 1:30 p.m. EDT

— The North Carolina State Fair is underway at the fairgrounds. The theme this year is "Worth the Wait," a nod to last year when the fair was canceled due to COVID-19.

While the crowds appeared smaller the first two days, the opening weekend of the fair was definitely packed.

Proof of COVID-19 vaccinations or a negative COVID test are not required for entry to the fair. Masks are also optional.

COVID-19 vaccinations are being offered for those ages 12 years and over at the fair. For younger children, a COVID-19 vaccination could be getting FDA approval in the coming weeks.

With such a large event that attracts many people from across the state, you might be trying to decide if you want to bring your family to the fair this year or wait until next year.

I'm personally waiting until next year because I've got young children who can't be vaccinated yet, but I asked some of our Go Ask Mom contributors what they planned to do this year and if they had any tips for those wanting to attend the fair.

Mix 101.5 FM's morning show host Kyle Smelser went with his wife on Thursday. He suggests going during the day and not at night when crowds are larger.

"Go during the day to avoid the massive crowds. Less headache, more enjoyable, and if you get there in the sweet spot of a weekday afternoon it might feel as if you have the fair to yourself. Plus, not having to wait in a line 30 people deep for corn dogs is nice," he said.

Smelser also suggested checking out Peachey's Baking Co. near Dorton Arena and the Sky Gazer, saying they had the "best donut" he's ever eaten. Out and About checked out Peachey's at the fair in 2018.

WRAL contributor Nili Zaharony went on Saturday with her family. She said she would have preferred to go mid-week, had her family been able to. They arrived at 9:30 a.m. and wore masks as much as possible. The kids really enjoyed the unlimited rides wristband.

"When we left at 2 p.m. it was way too crowded for my comfort and the lines to get in were huge," she said.

Contributor Sloane Heffernan brought her family on Sunday. She said it was great to be back at the fair.

"It was very peaceful when we arrived," Heffernan said, "but it was crazy by the time we left at around 3 p.m. I have never seen so many people waiting to get in."

Heffernan also gave us her top food picks:

  • 🍩 Donuts from Peachey's Baking Co.
  • 🥔 French Fries from Al's French Fries
  • 🐷 BBQ Sundae from Pik N Pig
  • 🍦 Ice cream from NC State Howling Cow Ice Cream
  • 🍕 John’s Greek Pizza
  • 🍏 Caramel Apples for the road! 😉

Several contributors who attended over the weekend and Monday said most guests and food vendors they encountered were not were wearing masks. Hand sanitizer stations were not always present after getting off of rides so definitely bring your own sanitizer if you go.

If you choose to attend the fair, you can check out our guide to the parking, new food and rides and safety information.