The 2019 North Carolina State Fair Comes to Town Oct. 17-27
Brand new this year: a 155-foot-tall Ferris wheel with 15-mile sight lines
Photos courtesy of Katie Shugg
This year's North Carolina State Fair is all about new additions. Fairgoers can enjoy eight new grounds entertainers, five new rides and loads of new food concoctions.
A total of 117 concerts by established and emerging musical acts with North Carolina ties will be performed during the fair. Headlining acts include Natural Wonder, a Stevie Wonder tribute act, on opening night Oct. 17; The Embers, featuring Craig Woolard, on Oct. 18; the Branford Marsalis Quartet on Oct. 21; the Charlie Daniels Band on Oct. 22; Pure Prairie League on Oct. 23; and American Aquarium on Oct. 24.
Ground acts include a one-man band, aerialist and acrobats, lumberjacks, stiltwalkers, a parrot-riding pirate, a giraffe and her zookeeper, a musical carillon and a street drum corps.
The State Fair SkyGazer, a 155-foot-tall Ferris wheel — the tallest ride ever brought to the fair — features 15-mile sight lines. Up to 200 people at a time can jump on this 10-minute ride that glitters with more than a half-million individual LED lights. This ride requires a separate ticket ($6 in advance and $7 at the fair).
“We know fairgoers love the classics like racing pigs and lumberjack shows, but we also want to bring in a mix of new acts to continue to wow fair visitors,” says North Carolina State Fair Manager Kent Yelverton. “The SkyGazer literally raises the expectation level and we can’t wait to see the wheel go up on the grounds. It’s the tallest traveling Ferris wheel in the United States and, when assembled, it will tower 62 and half feet above Dorton Arena.”
Other new rides include Alien Abduction, SkyHawk, Sizzler and Dream Wheel. Tickets cost $10 for a sheet of 18 ride tickets in advance, and $1/ticket or $18/sheet of 18 tickets at carnival ticket booths. Most rides required 5-6 tickets each.
When it comes to food, "nothing could be finer" than the Campfire on a Stick — mini pancakes layered with toasted marshmallows covered in chocolate with a graham cracker topping. Other new food additions include Fried Rum Runners, Pumpkin Spice Hushpuppies With Pumpkin Spice Glaze, Deep-Fried Olives, Crack-n-Cheese® Stuffed Turkey Legs, Loaded Lamb Nachos and Reeses Donuts — hand-cut yeast-raised donuts covered in creamy chocolate frosting, topped with chopped peanuts, chunks of Reeses peanut butter cups and sprinkled with mini Reeses Pieces. This treat can also be topped with soft serve ice cream and hot fudge. (Photo of Reeses Donut courtesy of the North Carolina State Fair.)
The Our State Public House will add North Carolina-made craft sodas to its offerings. Prior to the fair, you can purchase a Kegs, Corks and Pop pass for $12-$17, which includes admission plus a beer, wine or craft soda sample.