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Drought Saps State Fair Entries

Farmers from across the state bring out their best produce for competition at the North Carolina State Fair, but the drought and hot summer have taken a toll on the entries.

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RALEIGH, N.C. — The statewide drought is claiming another victim: Growers have fewer entries in some categories at this year’s North Carolina State Fair, and they say they have been challenged to bring in high-quality produce.

Growers said the drought has affected both quantity and quality of what they have been able to enter in agricultural competitions at the fair.

"It's hard to select good quality whenever you have poor quality to start with," Theron Maybin, a farmer from Henderson County, said. Maybin said many apples grown in Henderson County this year are lopsided and smaller than ever before.

Horticultural competitor Edna Moore said she is bringing only about half of what she entered last year.

"Our stuff's not grown, not produced like it should (have)," she said.

Judging for the horticultural competition begins Thursday and continues Friday. The entries will be on display for the duration of the fair.

Exhibitors said they are making the best of what they have to work with, and the State Fair still has plenty of impressive sights, including a pair of pumpkins from western North Carolina that weighed in at 644 pounds and 777 pounds.

Grower Mark Britt said the sapping effect of the drought on his tomatoes forced him to get creative: Instead of the biggest tomato, he brought the best-quality, smallest tomato he had grown.

"That's the only one I could bring to actually show. It's "best tomato, any size," and I thought the novelty of the really tiny tomato might pay off," he said. "You never know."

Fair officials said they also expect fewer entries in the flower and garden show.

"I didn't have the magnitude or the big flowers that I usually have to bring because of the drought," flower show competitor Rhonda Haynes said.

Growers expressed relief that they are at least all up against the same competition: drought and heat. They hoped the State Fair will help educate the public on the challenges those adversaries pose.

"Hopefully, it will open their eyes to what the farmers deal with," Maybin said.

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Mike Charbonneau, Reporter
Anne Johnson, Web Editor

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