Where can you find lights, laughs and livestock? The fair of course!
North Carolina boasts approximately 41 agricultural fairs, all chock full of entertainment and education for the whole family.
The fairs offer carnival rides to send your heart racing, breathtaking pieces of artwork submitted by amateur artists and exciting livestock shows featuring sheep, goats, cattle, swine, poultry and more.
Fairs are a wonderful opportunity to learn about agriculture and get up close and personal with animals you might not normally meet.
Fair exhibitors are always willing to answer questions, give demonstrations and, maybe, if you’re lucky, introduce you to their animal companions.
But fair visitors aren’t the only ones who walk away having learned something.
“The kids who compete at the fair come back year after year and learn to improve their skills,” says Kevin Hardison, N.C. Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services (NCDA&CS) marketing specialist and county fair coordinator. “Whether it’s cooking, growing the largest pumpkin or grooming their animal correctly, it teaches them to set goals and achieve them.”
The fair is also a valuable opportunity for these competitors to secure prize money or scholarships to help them pursue their dreams.
In 2015, the North Carolina State Fair Youth Livestock Scholarship awarded $2,000 to kids based on their livestock activities, academic achievements, a typed essay and general resume.
And let’s not forget the food.
Going to the fair without sampling the delicious midway options and local vendors would be a travesty. With even more each year, there is truly something to fit every palate.
“There is a wide range of foods available,” Hardison says. “A lot of fairs are incorporating local charitable organizations, such as firemen, EMS, Lions Club and the Shriners, who cook anything from hot dogs to full sit-down meals.”
Much of the money these organizations make goes back into the fair and the community in the form of donations, sponsorships and scholarships.
“The money raised by Lions Club goes back into activities for the visually impaired, and some organizations work with colleges to provide scholarships,” Hardison says. “Whenever money is spent at the fair, a portion of it is turned around and given back to the community.”