'Got to be NC' says eat and buy local

Posted May 21, 2011 3:01 p.m. EDT
Updated May 22, 2011 12:30 p.m. EDT

— Rides and food took over the State Fairgrounds Saturday, but the Got to be N.C. Festival has a serious purpose: to urge people to support North Carolina agriculture.

"This is an opportunity to get people out to see the heritage of agriculture in N.C., but also celebrate the spring and the products that are coming in," state Agriculture Commissioner Steve Troxler said.

All of the vendors, produce and food hailed from North Carolina.

Jane Long brought juicy blueberries from Hannah Forest Farms in Harnett County, which has been in her family for more than 100 years.

"Tobacco went out, and we had wild blueberries growing on some of our land. And my father had always said this would make good blueberries," Long said.

Agriculture is the No. 1 industry in North Carolina and brings in more than $70 billion a year.

"Amazingly during the recession, agriculture and agribusiness have done very well if you compare it to other industries," Troxler said.

But agriculture in North Carolina still faces difficulties.

"One of the challenges that we have is that we are losing farmland at an alarming rate," Troxler said.

Danny Pipkin, a Goldsboro vendor who sold barbecue at the festival, had a solution.

"Buy local. Eat local. Support the little guys and not those big-box places," Pipkin urged.

The Got to be NC festival runs until midnight Saturday and 9 a.m.-10 p.m. Sunday.