fried food banner at the NC State Fair

The State Fair Starts Next Week! Are You Ready?

fried food banner at the NC State FairI think we’re all ready for the NC State Fair — fried food, thrilling rides, and 11 days of pure North Carolina tradition.

Regardless if you’re an NC State student who lives on campus or off, the State Fair is the place to be during October, and it’s a campus tradition you don’t want to miss.

Everything You Want to Know About the 2015 NC State Fair

This year, the fair opens Thursday, October 15th at 3 PM and runs daily through Sunday, October 25th, where you can visit the Midway, the exhibit halls, and food trucks galore.

Visiting for your first time or your twentieth? A little short on cash? Here’s what’s new, what’s cheap, and what’s fun at the 2015 North Carolina State Fair.

Student Discounts and Cheap Admission

Preview Day: The first day of the fair is always Preview Day, where you can get $8 admission tickets and a $28 wristband that lets you ride all of the rides as many times as you want. Naturally, Preview Day is usually the most crowded, but it’s a cheap alternative if you’re eager for the thrills.

Student Discounts: Want to get in the door for half price? Of course you do! Take advantage of the fair’s student discount ticket price — only good on Friday, October 16th when you show your NC State student ID. You can also get an unlimited ride wristband on this day for $34.

Hunger Relief Day: Another popular attendance day is the Food Lion Hunger Relief Day on Thursday, October 22nd, when you can get free admission if you bring five Food Lion-brand canned items to donate to benefit the Food Bank of Central & Eastern North Carolina. Free fair admission and helping your community — it’s a win-win.

Admission and Ride Ticket Information

Admission is normally  $10 for adults at the gate, but you can get $8 for advance tickets if you order before October 15th. Get your admission tickets (and ride tickets, too) by visiting the fair’s ticket page.

Want to see where everything is? Check out the 2015 NC State Fair map to find out where the best rides, best exhibits, and best attractions are.

Deep Fried Everything

The NC State Fair is well known for its deep fried treats. There are the classics like deep fried Twinkies and the Krispy Kreme Burger, and your regular ol’ funnel cakes and corn dogs.

candied apples at the NC State FairNew Foods at the 2015 State Fair

What’s not to love about the latest and greatest fried foods that can put our favorite deep fried Oreos to shame? Just in time to kick off the 2015 fall season, the newest fried foods offered at the NC State Fair include:

  • Carolina Crab Bites (located outside the Dorton Arena)
  • Deep Fried Jalapeño Pimento Cheese & Bacon Hushpuppies with Sriracha Bang Bang Dipping Sauce (located near the Grandstand)
  • Chickpea Fries (located in the church restaurants by Kiddieland)
  • Cherry Wood Smoked BBQ Chicken (at Big Al’s BBQ by the Commercial & Education Building)
  • Deep Fried S’mores and Deep Fried Pop Tarts (at the Deep Fried Candy Bar Booth in Kiddieland)
  • Coconut Macadamia Cream Pie, Cherry Pecan Streusel, Cotton Candy Crazy, Salted Caramel Latte, and Smore’os apples (at Miss Debbie’s Specialty Apples in the Commercial & Education Building)
  • Deep Fried Peanut Butter Pickle and Deep Fried Bacon Wrapped Tootsie Roll (in Kiddieland)

The Chickpea Fries in particular come straight from our very own Neomonde Bakery & Deli, located on Beryl Road just a stone’s throw from NC State’s campus.

My personal fried food favorites are definitely the deep fried cinnamon roll (sans bacon bits) and the cup of hushpuppies from the Old Grist Mill. They’re so good!

cup of hushpuppies from the old grist millWhere to Eat for Cheap

If you want a quick bite to eat and can’t get enough of a classic Southern comfort food, head to the Old Grist Mill and buy a cup of hushpuppies for just $5. (They offer one free hushpuppy to sample, too.) It doesn’t get better than that.

Generally, the church restaurants by the Kiddieland offer good meals and great service for a decent price.

And if you’re in the mood (and of age) for craft beer and local wine, head to the Hunt Horse Arena between 2 PM and 8 PM any day of the week for the Got to Be NC Wine & Craft Beer Exhibit.

Parking? No Problem

There’s free parking at Carter-Finley Stadium and PNC Arena, though it is a little far away from all of the action.

I’ve actually found that the best cheap parking is on Beryl Road just after the JC Raulston Arboretum (if you’re heading toward the fairgrounds on that street) — $5 at the Advanced Exterior Systems parking lot, 4501 Beryl Road. It’s not a bad walk to the main entrance from there.

Or, you can take the CAT bus from Hillsborough Street to the fairgrounds for just $4 round-trip.

Free Forms of Entertainment

the garden at the NC State FairBesides browsing the livestock and agricultural exhibits (this year’s giant pumpkin, anyone?), you can catch a wide variety of free performances and concerts at the fair. Highlights include:

  • Axe Women Loggers of Maine
  • Brad Matchett: Comedy Hypnotist
  • Circle “C” Racing Pigs
  • Flower & Garden Show
  • King Action Sports Stunt Show
  • One Man Band
  • The Snyder Family Band

But of course, nothing beats the dazzling fireworks displays that shoot off every night around 9:45. You can hear them all the way from campus, and maybe even further.

Did You Know…?

If you’re walking along Hillsborough Street by the library, you might have noticed the plaque that talks about the NC State Fair. More than a century ago in 1873, the State Fair was held at a large fairground area right across the street from NC State’s main campus. It stayed there for about 50 years until it relocated to the current NC State Fairgrounds in 1928.

The State Fair Spotlights NC State Campus Life

As an NC State commuter student, you don’t have to miss out on the action at the fair. Find a couple of friends to go with and be sure to try the fried foods, peruse the art and agriculture exhibits, and just soak in this quintessential NC State student and fall season tradition.

Want a complete guide to campus? Be sure to check out my NC State student commuter guide to learn about campus resources and the best places to visit.

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