Since 1994, the North Carolina Mountain State Fair in Fletcher, NC has been celebrating the people, agriculture, art, and tradition of the Western mountain region. Contributing over $78 billion to the North Carolina economy, North Carolina's agricultural industry is diverse and flourishing, employing over 16% of the workforce. In recent years, this 10-day festival in the early weeks of September has attracted over 180,000 visitors. Nestled among the Appalachian mountains just South of Asheville, this fair amplifies North Carolina pride in its agribusiness, while making public education of the industry a main appeal for visitors and exhibitors alike.
Take part in cooking competitions or ogle the Flower & Garden competition. Engage in livestock shows like hog racing, or witness the live birth of a dairy cow. Revel in a gospel singing competition, or feel the rhythm of the mountains at the Clogging championship. Mountain music can be found daily at the Mountain Music stage alongside other entertainers like magicians and comedians. For those seeking thrill and mountain fame, take part in the ice cream eating contest.
For those with a flair for the arts, explore indigenous mountain handicrafts at the fair's educational exhibit. Craftsmen and women often wear traditional attire pertaining to their craft and give live demonstrations using natural mountain materials.
As a family-friendly fair, the North Carolina Mountain State Fair has a little something for everyone and is sure to educate visitors about the rich and historical background of Western North Carolina's agriculture. Native crafts, livestock shows, and clogging competitions attract people from all walks of life looking to explore and learn about the thriving industry of agricultural that defines the scenic region. Pack up the RV and join the festivities in Fletcher and camp nearby in the area.
Tickets to enter the North Carolina Mountain State Fair can be purchased ahead of time at Western North Carolina Ingles stores four to six weeks before the fair. Other purchase points are the WNC Agricultural Center in Fletcher and the WNC Farmers Market in Asheville. Purchasing ahead of time offers a small savings (usually $2 to $5) and the convenience of not having to pay at the gate. There are no online ticket sales.
Alternatively, tickets can be purchased at the gate with cash only. ATMs will be available on the grounds. Adult ticket prices hover around $10, while children and seniors receive minor discounts. Don't forget to check out the WNC Mountain Fair's deal days offering discounts for students, seniors, and more. Carnival rides require extra tickets and can be purchased in bulk as ticket "sheets."
The North Carolina Mountain State Fair is held at the Western North Carolina Agricultural Center in Fletcher, NC. The grounds are adjacent to the Asheville Regional Airport and are easily accessed from Highway 26. Though RV camping is not offered on the fairgrounds, you can find a number of RV campgrounds, state parks, and county parks in the neighboring area. Adventurous campers may enjoy the Nantahala National Forest or the Great Smokey Mountains National Park west of the fairgrounds. Mountain driving often has steep grades and should be researched before driving with heavy rigs.
Free day parking for cars and commuting vehicles is offered on fairground property. Patrons with mobility needs may find it easiest to use Entrance A or Entrance E. Overflow parking at a satellite lot is located about one mile South of Gate 6; however free bus transportation is offered to the fairgrounds (shuttle runs every 10 to 15 minutes).
Getting to the fairgrounds is best done with a personal vehicle via Highway 26. Wear your walking shoes because once on site, the primary way to traverse the fair is on foot. Stroller, wheelchair, and scooter rentals are available near entrances with ADA accessibility. Each rental requires a deposit and has a day rate. Check the event website for current pricing for rentals.
Though there is no RV camping available on the fairgrounds, several campgrounds can be found nearby in Fletcher or the greater Asheville area.
Nearby campgrounds offer a variety of features such as lakefront access, mile-high peaks, and cascading waterfalls. With the Nantahala National Forest as a neighbor, Fletcher is easily accessible from quiet, wooded campgrounds bookable online. Private RV campgrounds are also available in the urban Asheville area, close to the arts and culture scene that makes Asheville a desirable destination for foodies and artists.
With a recently paved central walking area, getting around the fairgrounds is not as muddy as years past. Still, some areas are unpaved, and with seasonal rains, the grounds can be soft. The Davis Exhibit Center is 45,000 square feet of covered, air-conditioned exhibit space. Foot travel is the only way to get around the fairgrounds unless you plan on renting a scooter or wheelchair.
Fletcher temperatures in early September can reach the upper 70's during the day, and drop into the 50's at night. The elevation of the area trends toward cooler, less humid temperatures than the rest of North Carolina. However, September is still hurricane season and even Western North Carolina has felt the effects of hurricanes in previous years, sometimes closing down the fair for consecutive days. Be sure to check weather before departing for your RV vacation.
The North Carolina Mountain State Fair operates on a cash system, so come prepared with small bills (though ATMs can be found on the grounds if you forget). Bring your own water bottle to refill on the premises. Keep bags small and minimal, and remember that all items are subject to search. Alcoholic beverages, illegal drugs, and firearms are not allowed on the grounds. Trained service dogs with certifications are permitted. Camping nearby in Western North Carolina can often be wet this time of year, so purchase firewood in the area to ensure it is dry and free of foreign contaminants.
Bring a water bottle to refill throughout the day to help you stay hydrated. Always travel with necessary prescriptions and health condition identifying wristbands. Wear comfortable walking shoes that won't blister your feet. Bugs are still prevalent in early September, so prepare with bug repellent.
Always check with your campground to ensure you know any open flame restrictions. Cooking in Western North Carolina can be rich and flavorful, as the area boasts a wide variety of local farms. Explore nearby Asheville's farmers markets to pick up fresh produce and locally grazed meats. Free range eggs, local cheese, and honey are just a few wares you may find at the area's markets.
Asheville, just a 15-minute drive north of Fletcher, is quickly becoming a mecca for foodies. James Beard awarded chefs whip up locally inspired cuisine with a Michelin-star level of quality. Wine bars, beer hauls, and intimate bohemian cafes speckle this hilly city of 92,000. Dining options in Asheville are designed to please every palette with Italian, Mexican, Asian, New-American, and Middle-Eastern cuisines. You will be hard-pressed to choose which highly rated restaurant to dine at in downtown Asheville.
North Carolina Mountain State Fair vendors offer typical fair food like funnel cakes and freshly popped popcorn. Look for yummy treats from local sellers as well. Remember to bring cash as most vendors do not offer a credit or debit card system.
Buncombe County Sheriff's Department helps to keep the North Carolina Mountain State Fair safe and well run for guests. The North Carolina Highway Patrol provides traffic assistance. Remember not to leave valuables in your vehicle. All bags are subject to search. Firearms are not allowed at the fair.
During the day, temperatures inch into the upper 70s, but they may fall into the 50s at night. Early September in Western North Carolina brings glimpses of fall weather, so be prepared with light layers. Various buildings also offer AC. Bring a rain jacket and wear water-resistant shoes as showers are still frequent at this time of year.
Skyland Fire & Rescue will be on hand to help with emergencies. The Fire & Rescue Building can be found near the Davis Arena. Medical care and pharmacy options are also available within a ten-minute drive of the fairgrounds.