Should You Pay a Child for Good Grades?


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Q.My husband and I disagree about how to respond to our 9-year-old son's grades. He is a B student and we know he is capable of doing even better. My husband would like us to tell him that we will give him $15 for every A on his next report card. I can't say exactly why, but I am not comfortable with this approach. Is there anything wrong with paying for grades?

A. The short answer is there is nothing wrong with paying for grades. The longer answer is that it may or may not be right for your child and family when you consider your values and orientations.

What motivates a child learn?

We are motivated to do something because we seek rewards. Rewards come in two types. One type is what we commonly think of as a reward: attaining some benefit in the wide world. We can call this an outside reward. It could be the smile of a loved one, a sticker, a job promotion ... the list is endless.

The other type of reward is an inner satisfaction within one's own mind. We can call this an inside reward. There are also numerous examples of internal rewards, and they usually involve fulfilling some wish or desire or following one's moral and ethical sense.

Let's apply this to understand a child's motivations to get good grades. From the standpoint of outside rewards, Tommy understands that good grades currently lead to compliments from teachers, possible recognition by the school, proud parents and, in the future, benefits such as good employment opportunities and financial security. Whether these outside rewards matter

to him or he fully understands the future issues, is another matter.

From the standpoint of inside rewards, children may derive pleasure from learning about something that interests them. They might feel that knowledge will allow them to pursue their interests. This is not the same as "getting in the good university," but is about being able to continue to derive satisfaction from learning.

They may want to be the best or smartest for reasons having to do with their psychological makeup. They might feel like a good person when they learn and know things. People recognize different ethics as being important, in addition to right and wrong behavior.

What vision do you have for your child?

Parents have the most influence on shaping their children. Although genetics plays a part, the humanity of a person, values, relationships and ability to derive meaning from life comes mostly from family and other key experiences, in addition to the individual spark that creates a "self."

You and your husband can ask yourselves some searching questions. To what extent would you wish for Tommy to respond to his inner rewards and follow his own star? To what extent would you wish for Tommy to make decisions on the basis of factors such as employment prospects and economic security? Most (but not all) parents hope for their children to grow into adults who pay attention to both, following their own star but also responding to a blend of inside and outside motivations.

Recognizing that most parents seek a blend of motivation is only a start. When the rubber meets the road, you and your husband may disagree with the relative balance of internal and external rewards. Parents' positions also shift.

Providing monetary rewards clearly sends a message that the reason to learn and get good grades is to achieve external rewards such as parental approval and money to spend on things Tommy wants. It doesn't mean you do not also value internal rewards, but you would make a strong statement about the importance of making learning choices for the sake of achieving outside rewards. Even if Tommy does not respond to the challenge, he will get this message.

There is a potential pitfall with an outside reward-based approach. Tommy may wish to get better grades, but have some learning or psychological difficulty that interferes with his own interest. In this event, a monetary carrot is unlikely to be effective and could even demoralize Tommy.

No two parents balance the world of rewards in the same way, even when they share many basic values. This is clearly a time when you and your husband can benefit from some soul searching, and openly and supportively share your views. It is not a question of right and wrong, but a question of your individual and collective vision of Tommy's future.

Considering whether to pay for grades gives you an opportunity to think about the broader issue of what it is that you would like to see matter to Tommy. As you learn together about this, you and your husband will be in a stronger position to provide continued guidance for Tommy, not only in this situation, but in many other instances in which he will have to weigh and balance the relative importance of being true to himself and to the practicalities of the world.  n

The Lucy Daniels Center is a nonprofit agency that promotes the health and well-being of children and families. To submit a question, email editorial@carolinaparent.com with "Ask Lucy Daniels" in the subject line. The question may be a composite or illustration of parents' questions.

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October 2019

Since the 1850s, North Carolina farmers have been going to the State Fair to learn about ways to improve their farming practices. Discover the origins of the State Fair and the history behind some...

Cost: Free

Where:
Historic Yates Mill County Park
4620 Lake Wheeler Road
Raleigh, NC  27603
View map »


Sponsor: Historic Yates Mill County Park
Telephone: 919-856-6675
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Cost: See website for fees

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Southpoint Mall and American Tobacco Trail
6910 Fayeteville Rd
Durham, NC  27713
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Cost: Free

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Kids Together Playground
111 Thurston Dr.
Cary, NC  27518
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Cost: Free

Where:
Carmichael Gymnasium
2611 Cates Ave.
Raleigh, NC  27695
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Performers in Mallarmé's first Family Series Concert, “JAZZ IS CHAMBER MUSIC, TOO!” will include faculty and students from the NCCU Jazz Department...

Cost: Free

Where:
Kirby Horton Hall, Sarah P. Duke Gardens
420 Anderson St
Durham, NC  27705
View map »


Sponsor: Mallarme Chamber Players
Telephone: 919-560-2788
Contact Name: Mickaella Guarascio
Website »

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Celebrate the 20th anniversary of Triangle Beagle Rescue with barbecue, cake, ice cream, vendors, raffles and a doggie costume contest.  

Cost: Free

Where:
Compass Rose Brewery
3201 Northside Dr.
Raleigh, NC  27615
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Website »

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Cost: Free

Where:
Crowder County Park
4709 Ten-Ten Road
Apex, NC  27539
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Telephone: 919-662-2850
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The Durham Medical Orchestra will perform a benefit concert for the Miracle League of the Triangle, including children and adults with special needs. Special guest is Wool E. Bull of the Durham...

Cost: Free

Where:
Durham Central Park Pavilion
501 Foster St.
Durham, NC  27701
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Participants develop their naturalist skills and understanding of local nature. Ages 5-8 with parent. Register online. 

Cost: $8/resident, $10/nonresident

Where:
Stevens Nature Center/Hemlock Bluffs
2616 Kildaire Farm Rd.
Cary, NC
View map »


Telephone: 919-387-5980
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N.C. By Train and Amtrak are making it easier than ever for families to get to the N.C. State Fair through a special stop right at the fairgrounds in Raleigh from Friday, Oct. 18 through Sunday,...

Cost: See website for fees; prices vary based on pick-up location

Where:
, NC


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Enjoy a guided tour of the trees, shrubs and flowers that adorn the park, followed by an art activity using plant materials collected during the tour. All ages and abilities welcome. Registration...

Cost: Free

Where:
Kids Together Playground
111 Thurston Dr.
Cary, NC  27518
View map »


Website »

More information

One dark fall night, Mouse creeps out and hears strange sounds and sees spooky sights. What could it mean? Don't worry, Mouse—it's Halloween! Join us for a fun yet spooky tale by Lauren Thompson...

Cost: Free

Where:
Historic Yates Mill County Park
4620 Lake Wheeler Road
Raleigh, NC  27603
View map »


Sponsor: Historic Yates Mill County Park
Telephone: 919-856-6675
Website »

More information

N.C. By Train and Amtrak are making it easier than ever for families to get to the N.C. State Fair through a special stop right at the fairgrounds in Raleigh from Friday, Oct. 18 through Sunday,...

Cost: See website for fees; prices vary based on pick-up location

Where:
, NC


Website »

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Join a naturalist for a re-energizing walk in the forest. This is a hike to immerse ourselves in nature. We will stop and talk about plants when it is interesting for the group. Note that, as a...

Cost: Free

Where:
Historic Yates Mill County Park
4620 Lake Wheeler Road
Raleigh, NC  27603
View map »


Sponsor: Historic Yates Mill County Park
Telephone: 919-856-6675
Website »

More information

There is more to the “ring-tailed bandit” than meets the eye! Discover the mysteries behind this animal, including what their favorite foods are and their unique adaptations. Make a mask of...

Cost: Free

Where:
Crowder County Park
4709 Ten-Ten Road
Apex, NC  27539
View map »


Telephone: 919-662-2850
Website »

More information

Enjoy a guided tour of the trees, shrubs and flowers that adorn the park, followed by an art activity using plant materials collected during the tour. All ages and abilities welcome. Registration...

Cost: Free

Where:
Kids Together Playground
111 Thurston Dr.
Cary, NC  27518
View map »


Website »

More information

N.C. By Train and Amtrak are making it easier than ever for families to get to the N.C. State Fair through a special stop right at the fairgrounds in Raleigh from Friday, Oct. 18 through Sunday,...

Cost: See website for fees; prices vary based on pick-up location

Where:
, NC


Website »

More information

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Did you know young raccoons are called kits? Learn all about these ring-tailed mammals through hands-on discovery, stories, and a fun craft! Then learn how to walk like a raccoon and search for the...

Cost: Free

Where:
Crowder County Park
4709 Ten-Ten Road
Apex, NC  27539
View map »


Sponsor: Crowder County Park
Telephone: 919-662-2850
Website »

More information

Enjoy a guided tour of the trees, shrubs and flowers that adorn the park, followed by an art activity using plant materials collected during the tour. All ages and abilities welcome. Registration...

Cost: Free

Where:
Kids Together Playground
111 Thurston Dr.
Cary, NC  27518
View map »


Website »

More information

N.C. By Train and Amtrak are making it easier than ever for families to get to the N.C. State Fair through a special stop right at the fairgrounds in Raleigh from Friday, Oct. 18 through Sunday,...

Cost: See website for fees; prices vary based on pick-up location

Where:
, NC


Website »

More information

Show More...
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Enjoy a guided tour of the trees, shrubs and flowers that adorn the park, followed by an art activity using plant materials collected during the tour. All ages and abilities welcome. Registration...

Cost: Free

Where:
Kids Together Playground
111 Thurston Dr.
Cary, NC  27518
View map »


Website »

More information

Assist with our habitat box monitoring. Tasks will vary depending on what needs attention and may include: cleaning or repairing habitat boxes or installing new ones, monitoring our current...

Cost: Free

Where:
Harris Lake County Park
2112 County Park Dr.
New Hill, NC  27562
View map »


Sponsor: Harris Lake County Park
Telephone: 919-387-4342
Contact Name: Joanne St. Clair
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More information

N.C. By Train and Amtrak are making it easier than ever for families to get to the N.C. State Fair through a special stop right at the fairgrounds in Raleigh from Friday, Oct. 18 through Sunday,...

Cost: See website for fees; prices vary based on pick-up location

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, NC


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For years, scientists have worked to understand the changes that occur in trees and other plants during autumn. Although many details remain unclear, we do know enough to explain the basics of...

Cost: Free

Where:
Historic Yates Mill County Park
4620 Lake Wheeler Road
Raleigh, NC  27603
View map »


Sponsor: Historic Yates Mill County Park
Telephone: 919-856-6675
Website »

More information

For years, scientists have worked to understand the changes that occur in trees and other plants during autumn. Although many details remain unclear, we do know enough to explain the basics of...

Cost: Free

Where:
Historic Yates Mill County Park
4620 Lake Wheeler Road
Raleigh, NC  27603
View map »


Sponsor: Historic Yates Mill County Park
Telephone: 919-856-6675
Website »

More information

For years, scientists have worked to understand the changes that occur in trees and other plants during autumn. Although many details remain unclear, we do know enough to explain the basics of...

Cost: Free

Where:
Historic Yates Mill County Park
4620 Lake Wheeler Road
Raleigh, NC  27603
View map »


Sponsor: Historic Yates Mill County Park
Telephone: 919-856-6675
Website »

More information

For years, scientists have worked to understand the changes that occur in trees and other plants during autumn. Although many details remain unclear, we do know enough to explain the basics of...

Cost: Free

Where:
Historic Yates Mill County Park
4620 Lake Wheeler Road
Raleigh, NC  27603
View map »


Sponsor: Historic Yates Mill County Park
Telephone: 919-856-6675
Website »

More information

Enjoy a guided tour of the trees, shrubs and flowers that adorn the park, followed by an art activity using plant materials collected during the tour. All ages and abilities welcome. Registration...

Cost: Free

Where:
Kids Together Playground
111 Thurston Dr.
Cary, NC  27518
View map »


Website »

More information

Trick or Treat in Downtown is a Free annual Halloween event sponsored by Fuquay-Varina Downtown Association and participating Downtown Businesses. Held from 2-5pm, families are invited to...

Cost: Free

Where:
Downtown Fuquay-Varina
Fuquay-Varina, NC  27526


Sponsor: Fuquay-Varina Downtown Association
Telephone: 919-552-0848
Contact Name: Rachel Cornett
Website »

More information

Celebrate the fall season at the Garden with a fun-filled evening of hands-on nature activities! Meet green monsters, craft a magic wand and leaf critter, tackle the spider web obstacle course,...

Cost: $5 per person; children 2 & under FREE

Where:
North Carolina Botanical Garden
100 Old Mason Farm Rd
Chapel Hill, NC  27517
View map »


Sponsor: North Carolina Botanical Garden
Telephone: 919-537-3770
Contact Name: Elisha Taylor
Website »

More information

Enjoy carnival rides, games and prizes, bounce houses, raffles and live entertainment.  Food,  soda, cotton candy and snow cones are for sale.  Friday also enjoy trunk...

Cost: Kids 3 and older: $15 per day or $25 for two days. Adults are free!

Where:
St. Thomas More School
920 Carmichael Street
Chapel Hill, NC  27514
View map »


Sponsor: St. Thomas More School
Telephone: 919-338-8110
Contact Name: Jennifer Galloway
Website »

More information

Just as you are getting sleepy and letting go of a yawn, many of the wetland’s inhabitants are stretching and getting ready for their “day.” We’ll learn which animals in the wetland are...

Cost: $5 per family

Where:
Walnut Creek Wetland Park
950 Peterson Street
Raleigh, NC  27610
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Telephone: 919-996-2760
Contact Name: Stacie Hagwood
Website »

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Conjure up your best disguise* and show off your Halloween threads as you compete in our costume contest, then march over to the Makery to decorate a trick-or-treat bag for the big night. Summon...

Cost: $35

Where:
Kidzu Children's Museum
201 S. Estes Drive
Chapel Hill, NC  27514
View map »


Sponsor: Kidzu Children's Museum
Telephone: 919-933-1455
Contact Name: Sabrina Varney
Website »

More information

This event is very popular, and spots fill up fast so make sure to reserve your spot in advance.  In the heart of a zombie apocalypse at TreeRunner, the park has been quarantined as a large...

Cost: Adults & Kids Over 14 years of age:$44; Kids 13 and under: $39

Where:
TreeRunner Raleigh
12804 Norwood Rd.
Raleigh, NC  27613
View map »


Telephone: 919-410-7347
Contact Name: TreeRunner
Website »

More information

N.C. By Train and Amtrak are making it easier than ever for families to get to the N.C. State Fair through a special stop right at the fairgrounds in Raleigh from Friday, Oct. 18 through Sunday,...

Cost: See website for fees; prices vary based on pick-up location

Where:
, NC


Website »

More information

Show More...
Show Less...

For years, scientists have worked to understand the changes that occur in trees and other plants during autumn. Although many details remain unclear, we do know enough to explain the basics of...

Cost: Free

Where:
Historic Yates Mill County Park
4620 Lake Wheeler Road
Raleigh, NC  27603
View map »


Sponsor: Historic Yates Mill County Park
Telephone: 919-856-6675
Website »

More information

For years, scientists have worked to understand the changes that occur in trees and other plants during autumn. Although many details remain unclear, we do know enough to explain the basics of...

Cost: Free

Where:
Historic Yates Mill County Park
4620 Lake Wheeler Road
Raleigh, NC  27603
View map »


Sponsor: Historic Yates Mill County Park
Telephone: 919-856-6675
Website »

More information

For years, scientists have worked to understand the changes that occur in trees and other plants during autumn. Although many details remain unclear, we do know enough to explain the basics of...

Cost: Free

Where:
Historic Yates Mill County Park
4620 Lake Wheeler Road
Raleigh, NC  27603
View map »


Sponsor: Historic Yates Mill County Park
Telephone: 919-856-6675
Website »

More information

For years, scientists have worked to understand the changes that occur in trees and other plants during autumn. Although many details remain unclear, we do know enough to explain the basics of...

Cost: Free

Where:
Historic Yates Mill County Park
4620 Lake Wheeler Road
Raleigh, NC  27603
View map »


Sponsor: Historic Yates Mill County Park
Telephone: 919-856-6675
Website »

More information

Give rugby a try. Take part in tag rugby pick-up games every Saturday morning at Baileywick Road Park, near the Second Shelter.  No experience necessary. All ages. 

Cost: Free

Where:
Baileywick Road Park
9501 Baileywick Rd
Second Shelter Field
Raleigh, NC  27615
View map »


Sponsor: Raleigh Redhawks Rugby
Contact Name: denise travis
Website »

More information

Families explore different school and calendar options in the Wake County Public School System.

Cost: Free

Where:
Panther Creek High School
6770 McCrimmon Pkwy.
Cary, NC  27519
View map »


Website »

More information

Live entertainment, a kids' zone, corn hole competition, food trucks, and arts and crafts vendors highlight this annual festival in Holly Springs.  

Cost: Free

Where:
Sugg Farm at Bass Lake Park
2401 Grigsby Ave.
Holly Springs, NC  27540
View map »


Website »

More information

Food trucks, a kids costume contest, arts and crafts vendors and more light up Main Street in Rolesville.

Cost: Free

Where:
Main Street
Rolesville, NC  27571


Website »

More information

The local community is invited to the CORRAL Riding Academy’s CORRAL Classic to celebrate the young women of CORRAL as they give riding demonstrations, meet CORRAL’s horses and goats at...

Cost: Free

Where:
CORRAL Riding Academy
3620 Kildaire Farm Rd
Cary, NC  27518
View map »


Sponsor: CORRAL Riding Academy
Telephone: 919.355.2090
Contact Name: Abby Shea
Website »

More information

Pittsboro comes alive with arts and crafts vendors, food trucks and more. 

Cost: Free

Where:
Downtown Pittsboro
, NC  27312


Website »

More information

Enjoy a guided tour of the trees, shrubs and flowers that adorn the park, followed by an art activity using plant materials collected during the tour. All ages and abilities welcome. Registration...

Cost: Free

Where:
Kids Together Playground
111 Thurston Dr.
Cary, NC  27518
View map »


Website »

More information

Calling all walkers, runners and anyone who wants to have fun at the beautiful Dorothea Dix Park in Raleigh and help us celebrate 40 years of prevention. Join the staff of PCANC and the triangle...

Cost: $30 Individual/$70 for Families

Where:
Dorothea Dix Park
2105 Umstead Dr
Raleigh, NC  27603
View map »


Website »

More information

Learn basic canoeing skills and a bit about the millpond's history, then head out to explore the pond's many features as seen only from the water. Canoes, paddles, and life jackets are provided,...

Cost: Free

Where:
Historic Yates Mill County Park
4620 Lake Wheeler Road
Raleigh, NC  27603
View map »


Sponsor: Historic Yates Mill County Park
Telephone: 919-856-6675
Website »

More information

Want to get inside Historic Yates Mill? Join us for a half-hour tour (starting at 1, 1:30, 2, 2:30 & 3 p.m.) to view the main power drive and milling machinery while exploring the mill's history...

Cost: $5/Adult, $4/Senior (60+ yrs), $3/Child (7-16yrs), Free/Child (6yrs & younger)

Where:
Historic Yates Mill County Park
4620 Lake Wheeler Road
Raleigh, NC  27603
View map »


Telephone: 919-856-6675

More information

Come in costume for Halloween family fun at the 𝗧𝗿𝗶𝗰𝗸 𝗼𝗿 𝗧𝗿𝗲𝗮𝘁 𝗲𝘃𝗲𝗻𝘁 𝗮𝘁 𝘁𝗵𝗲 𝗺𝗮𝗹𝗹 𝗦𝗮𝘁𝘂𝗿𝗱𝗮𝘆,...

Cost: Free Admission

Where:
Triangle Town Center
5959 Triangle Blvd
#206
Raleigh, NC  27616
View map »

More information

Learn basic canoeing skills and a bit about the millpond's history, then head out to explore the pond's many features as seen only from the water. Canoes, paddles, and life jackets are provided,...

Cost: Free

Where:
Historic Yates Mill County Park
4620 Lake Wheeler Road
Raleigh, NC  27603
View map »


Sponsor: Historic Yates Mill County Park
Telephone: 919-856-6675
Website »

More information

Man's best friend is featured in a family-friendly event that includes dog shows, a canine costume contest, parade, photo booth and more.

Cost: Free

Where:
Durham Central Park
501 Foster St.
Durham, NC  27701
View map »


Website »

More information

Enjoy carnival rides, games and prizes, bounce houses, raffles and live entertainment.  Food,  soda, cotton candy and snow cones are for sale.  Friday also enjoy trunk...

Cost: Kids 3 and older: $15 per day or $25 for two days. Adults are free!

Where:
St. Thomas More School
920 Carmichael Street
Chapel Hill, NC  27514
View map »


Sponsor: St. Thomas More School
Telephone: 919-338-8110
Contact Name: Jennifer Galloway

More information

Put on your fastest shoes and your race face for some fun, frightening fitness in a 3.1-mile run, Enjoy live music and seasonal food and drinks at the Farmhouse Café. Costumes not...

Cost: Free

Where:
Wendell Falls
320 Vintage Point Lane
Wendell, NC  27591
View map »


Sponsor: Wendell Falls
Telephone: 919-437-4043
Contact Name: Cherith Andes
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More information

Meet the farm's horses and enjoy games, crafts, treats, music, a haunted trail for teens and more. All proceeds benefit Horse and Buddy Therapeutic Riding Program, a local equine...

Cost: $10/person. Free for ages 9 and younger

Where:
Horse and Buddy Therapeutic Riding Program
4728 Old U.S. Hwy. 1
New Hill, NC  27562
View map »


Website »

More information

Search wetlands and forests for birds. Ages 13-15. Register online. 

Cost: $8/resident, $10/nonresident

Where:
Hemlock Bluffs/Stevens Nature Center
2616 Kildaire Farm Rd.
Cary, NC  27518
View map »


Telephone: 919-387-5980
Website »

More information

East Cloud Kungfu hosts a Parent's Night Out event, featuring a safe environment for kids as they about the wide world of kungfu.   Check it out!...

Cost: $25 first child, $20 each additional child

Where:
East Cloud Kungfu, LLC
5655-A Western Blvd
Raleigh, NC  27606
View map »


Sponsor: East Cloud Kungfu, LLC
Telephone: 252-646-7053
Contact Name: Imari Colon
Website »

More information

The Annual Raleigh Zombie Walk will be calling the living dead once again this year. The Zombie herd will gather for the 13th Annual Zombie Walk, invading the streets of downtown Raleigh. You can...

Cost: Free

Where:
Nash Square Park
200 S. McDowell St
Raleigh , NC  27601
View map »


Website »

More information

N.C. By Train and Amtrak are making it easier than ever for families to get to the N.C. State Fair through a special stop right at the fairgrounds in Raleigh from Friday, Oct. 18 through Sunday,...

Cost: See website for fees; prices vary based on pick-up location

Where:
, NC


Website »

More information

N.C. By Train and Amtrak are making it easier than ever for families to get to the Lexington BBQ Festival. Board at any of these stops: Charlotte, Kannapolis, Salisbury, High Point, Greensboro,...

Cost: See website for fees; prices vary based on pick-up location

Where:
, NC


Website »

More information

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