fairgoers at North Carolina State Fair

8 Reasons Why You Should Be Excited About the State Fair This Year

There are just a few days left until the best 11 days of fall in Raleigh. The North Carolina State Fair opens October 13th this year and runs until October 23rd, and if you haven’t ever had the chance to go to this highly anticipated state (and State) tradition, stop what you’re doing and go buy a ticket right now.

While the State Fair always has several features that remain the same (like discounted tickets during Preview Day, student discounts during Friday Frenzy, and tons of fried food), there’s something new and exciting every year. 2016 is another year to look forward to. Here are just a few reasons you should be excited about going to the NC State Fair this year.

 1. There are 4 Unlimited Ride Wristband Days

Fair ride enthusiasts know the struggle: Riding all of the high-swinging fast-turning rides is so expensive you need to take out another loan to do them all. The unlimited ride wristbands are by far the best deal. This year, there are not one, not two, but four days for the wristbands:

  • Thursday, October 13th (wristbands are $28)
  • Friday, October 14th (wristbands are $35)
  • Monday, October 17th (wristbands are $35)
  • Tuesday, October 18th (wristbands are $35)

ride at North Carolina State Fair2. And There’s a “Daredevil Package” Deal

2 admission tickets. 6 ride sheets (a total of 108 tickets). All for $72. If you love the rides, take a friend and go nuts. The Daredevil Package is only available online until 11:59 PM on October 13th.

3. The NC State Fair Flyer AKA Giant Ski Lift

The NC State Fair Flyer is a brand new attraction for the 2016 State Fair. It’s like a chairlift, only instead of powdery ski slopes below you, it’s the dazzling ride lights and shrieks of thrill-seekers from the Midway. Take your pick of a one-way or round trip. Tickets are $5 one way ($4 in advance) or $8 round trip ($7 in advance).

Unfortunately, unlimited ride wristbands don’t include the NC State Fair Flyer.

4. Fall in a Cup (of Howling Cow)

NC State University’s own Howling Cow ice cream has been a staple of the fair for years. The line is always ridiculously long, but this year, it might be worth it. Caramel Apple Crisp is the newest flavor available at the North Carolina State Fair this year.

fairgoers at North Carolina State Fair

If you want a taste, head to the Howling Cow booth by the Grandstand. (That’s the red building in the picture above.)

5. 117 Free Concerts During Homegrown Music Fest

From high school chorus groups to legendary bands, the 2016 North Carolina State Fair is pulling out all the stops for nothing short of an awesome music festival.

Featured appearances at the Homegrown Music Fest include The Voice season 8 star Katelyn Read, Kernersville country singer Chris Lane, beach music favorites The Embers featuring Craig Woolard, Durham local Skylar Gudasz, and Raleigh rock band Kooley High.

6. Even More Ridiculous Deep Fried Foods

North Carolina State Fair food tent

Really, what’s a trip to the fair without eating as much deep fried food as you can possibly stomach? There’s a whole lot of food already at the North Carolina State Fair, but here’s just a few of the new foods to try for 2016:

  • Fried Bacon Pimento Cheeseburger Egg Roll
  • NC Lump Crab Meat Hushpuppies
  • Deep Fried Cuban Roll
  • Deep Fried Jello
  • Fried Chicken & Waffle Kabob
  • Shrimp Bites
  • Salted Caramel Maple Bacon Funnel Cake

But the bacon-wrapped grilled cheese sandwich from Bubba’s Bacon may just be the winner of the most ridiculous fried food combination at the 2016 North Carolina State Fair. Yep, this thing:

7. Watch the Fireworks… After the Laser Show

Most NC State students look forward to hearing the fireworks from campus every night during the fair. But did you know that this year you can watch another cool light show beforehand? It’s a laser show at Heritage Circle and it is going to be spectacular. Here’s a sneak peek from the official NC State Fair Twitter account:

8. You Can Make Money at the Fair

Well, that’s not a new thing. But few NC State students know that they can earn a little spending money at the fair for the rides or fried food.

Duke University research mobile at the fair

The Duke University ResearchMobile sets up shop every year at the North Carolina State Fair and conducts paid surveys. In the past, people have earned $1 to $6 in cash for participating in short research studies.

New to NC State? Living Off Campus?

The North Carolina State Fair is just one of many NC State student traditions. It’s where you can learn about the local history while chowing down on a giant turkey leg, and where you can spend time eating deep fried food and making memories with your friends.

If you’re new to NC State University (and especially if you live off campus and commute), check out the NC State Student Commuter Guide. It’s the best way to make friends, find fun things to do, and check all the boxes off your college bucket list.


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