WRAL.com at the State Fair

Got To Be NC, starting tomorrow!

Posted May 20, 2010 2:04 p.m. EDT
Updated May 20, 2010 2:07 p.m. EDT

I must say I have not been in the mood for late spring/early summer festivals with the chilliness and the rain and the just generally gloomy weather. But have you been outside today? The sky is a bright azure, there's a warm breeze blowing, and it's getting humid! Ah, North Carolina. Your weather is right on time, because Got to Be NC starts tomorrow.

Got to Be NC is in its third year as a mini-agricultural festival / mini-Fair type thing. The first year it was way too hot and the exhibits were skimpy. Last year, it was great: wonderful weather, tons of exhibits, and enough of a carnival area to keep your kids content without destroying your wallet.

The 2010 Festival website is at http://www.ncagfest.com/. As in previous years, the festival is taking place at the NC Fairgrounds and as in previous years admission is free, as is parking. The Festival runs tomorrow, Saturday, and Sunday. Tomorrow and Saturday it's 9am to midnight, while Sunday it's 9am to 10pm. (The exhibit halls and carnival area have slightly shorter hours.)

You can get a list of attractions here and the daily schedules here but let me hit some of  the highlights.

-- MUSIC: Last year a stage for bluegrass bands was set up in the grassy lawn area behind the flower exhibit. There was great music, plenty of shade, and lots of room. I can't think of many fairgrounds concerts I've enjoyed more than that one. There will be another stage set up closer to Dorton Arena for country and beach music.

-- FOOD: The North Carolina Food Expo takes place all three days of Got to Be NC, and this year features over 100 companies and all kinds of North Carolina food and drink. This year also includes the addition of a "wine garden" area with information on over a dozen NC wineries.

-- PIGS & FISH: Friday there's a Shriners Fish Fry, while Saturday there's the NC Pig Jig, a barbecuing competition. (Tip: put plenty of space between your trip to the Food Expo and the Pig Jig, or your'll be so full of sandwich you won't be able to enjoy the samples, or vice-versa!)

-- WHEELS: As was true last year, this year's Got to Be NC will feature lots of antique tractors and other old farm equipment. There will also be a classic car exhibit (on Friday) and a Harley Davidson parade (on Saturday morning.)

-- GRANDSTANDING: There will be shows in the Sam Rand Grandstand all weekend, including tractor pulls, draft horse pulls, and (my personal favorite!) lawnmower racing! The grandstand shows are not free -- they're $5 -- but that's not bad at all.

If you can't stand taking your kids to the regular Fair in October because it's too expensive and too much to see in a couple hours' trip, try Got to Be NC. There's plenty of entertainment, food, and fun, and you can take it all in over the course of an afternoon. Just cross your fingers for the weather!