For the last few years, I have spent some time at the beginning of October at the Dixie Classic Fair, but I wasn't able to this year due to a illness in the family. But the 2012 North Carolina State Fair got off to a great start when I ran into April Blazich, Superintendent of Horticulture, at the Expo Building. She showed me some changes in the Expo Center exhibits, including a chance to get close up with some of the smallest entries in the horticulture contests.
Have you heard of micro peppers? They are peppers smaller than one inch long, and are one of the many pepper categories in the horticulture contests. Until this year, the micro peppers and other peppers were displayed in the same area as the other fruits and vegetables. Kept on a display behind a barrier, they were hard for the public to view.
This year, they've been moved to a series of tables in the walkway between exhibits, in a set of display cabinets that were formerly used for... "Sports cars," Ms. Blazich told me. "They're locked so the peppers won't be removed, and bolted down so the cabinets won't fall off the table."
Getting to see the peppers this closely makes you more aware of the huge variety that are covered in the horticulture contests. There are the micro peppers as previously mentioned, Habaneros, Jalapenos, hot peppers and sweet peppers. Some of them are blazingly hot (those Scotch Bonnet and Trinidad Scorpion peppers are scary!) while some of them are mellow enough even for a spice wimp like me (stuffed green poblanos, anyone?)