This event is steeped in history, with the first North Carolina State Fair held before the Civil War. Decades of incredible happenings later, the fair maintains the theme of the past few years as “Nothing Could Be Finer.”
You will agree when you enter the fairgrounds and sense the magic and wonder behind every event. It truly is a family-oriented atmosphere, and your kiddos will be asking to go back year after year. Will the Field of Dreams be their favorite place to visit? Or will the draw be the State Fair Ark, or the rides and games?
Musical entertainment includes the best local talent the state has to offer and grandstand events like Motorsports Mayhem thrill young and old alike. Lumberjacks show just what they can do with a chainsaw and an ax while educating the public on the importance of our forests.
In the Heritage Circle, witness the work at a forge, visit a historic schoolhouse and see the marvel of a grist mill. History abounds at this location, so make education part of your fair experience.
These are just a very few of the highlights of the fair. Pack the RV for an extended vacation because you will want to attend this tremendous event every day and explore Raleigh, too.
Peruse www.ncstatefair.org to get detailed ticket information; expect to pay between $10 and $70. The number of packages to choose from is almost as extensive as the events held at the North Carolina State Fair.
Examples are the gate admission tickets (children 4 and under are free), the Dizzy Pass which includes admission to the fair and a ride wristband, and the Food Lion Hunger Relief Day where non-perishable food donations get you in for free. Check the website for the required number of cans and do good while on vacation. Ticket prices vary depending on what you want to do while there, such as attend a tractor pull or take a sky gazer ride on a giant Ferris wheel.
Set your GPS coordinates for the I-440 Beltline. The website has detailed directions from many points surrounding Raleigh such as Greensboro and Charlotte, and out of state areas like Richmond, Virginia. Traffic will be heavy, so sign up for TIMS, the North Carolina traveler information system to learn about road closures and weather-related issues. Before heading to the fair, decide on your entrance gate as there are several.
Parking is usually free at the State Fair, Carter-Finlay Football Stadium, and the PNC Arena lots. RVs are not permitted to park overnight during certain hours. In the same area, some residents may allow parking on their property, although this option is not connected with the fair and may require some coordination. You can also use the Reedy Creek lot, which offers a free shuttle to the grounds. Check the website for up to date details and to find information on ADA-accessible parking areas.
The North Carolina State Fair also offers an option for those who do not want to maneuver a vehicle in densely populated areas around the fair. Choose the Park and Ride option by driving to the Triangle-area Park and Ride lot. There are buses that head to the fair, making this a stress-free way to get to the fun.
The onsite camping area of the fairgrounds is closed during the North Carolina State Fair to allow exhibitors and competitors to be able to stay close to livestock and booths. There is camping in the area as well as nearby, in towns like Four Oaks and Clayton.
Raleigh and surrounding areas are ideal for RVers. With facilities that are a campers dream, you can claim your spot in a campground with sprawling sites. Blue skies, green fields, and trees for shade are the main attraction, overshadowing the fact that the amenities are fabulous. Clean and bright accommodations offer full hookups and sites that are easy to maneuver and set up as your home away from home.
Tram services outside the fair stop at a few gates only, but this service does make getting around easier. An inner tram is available, too; however, neither option is wheelchair or scooter accessible. Tickets cannot be bought in advance. Once inside the gates, there are wheelchairs and electric scooters for rent on a first-come, first-served basis. You can either rent a stroller or wagon or bring your own.
Making the North Carolina State Fair your vacation destination means the clothing packing list is a simple one. Bring jeans and tops, comfy sweatshirts, and rain gear just in case for the daytime activities, and cozy pajamas for sleeping. Your favorite, worn-in shoes are a must since this fair will have you on your feet all day long exploring. You won’t want to miss a thing due to sore feet, so consider bringing a change of footwear when you pack your day bag for the fair.
Bring snacks, a refillable water bottle, sunscreen, and an umbrella if there is a threat of rain. Your bag will be subject to search when you enter the grounds. For camp, remember toiletries, a small radio, flashlights, a first aid kit, and some indoor and outdoor games. Your trip prep list is an essential part of getting ready for the road. A week before leaving, jot down every item you think of as you go about your day to be fully prepared when it’s time to pack.
Have the kids wear a hat on fair day and reapply sunscreen often. Put a family contingency plan in place in the event of separation in this crowded and busy venue. Older kids can help keep track of the younger ones to give mom and dad extra sets of eyes. Have the family wear the same colored t-shirts to spot each other easily. When setting up camp, go over the fire safety rules and give guidelines on wild animal spottings.
Family appetites will be raging after all of the activity, so have a few pre-prepped meals in the RV refrigerator for nights when a full day at the fair does not allow for a relaxed cooking session. Chili and lasagna travel well and are easy to reheat.
Stock the RV with briquets for the nights that a barbecue is on the menu. Make sure the propane tank is full and bring along the camp stove, too. Restocking options may be closer to your campground than to the fair but are plentiful in the Raleigh area.
Southern food is sure to satisfy the family. Take a night off from cooking and indulge in fried chicken or an exquisitely built BLT. Try a variation of food choices while here as well, and go for dim sum or vegan “chicken” waffles. Let the kids fill up on their favorite pizza style. Take everyone for burritos and then splurge on a decadent dessert.
With the North Carolina State Fair being a gigantic venue, one can only imagine the variation of vendors. Enjoy typical fair delights and specialty foods. The menu will range from fried foods to healthy eats like farm-fresh veggie wraps. Commercial vendors offer handcrafted goods that will amaze, like wood carvings and intricate jewelry.
Police and security staff remind and advise fairgoers that although the North Carolina State Fair is a destination for fun, some practical security tips are warranted. Keep your purse or day bag close to you (not in the stroller or wagon) and keep your wallet in your pocket. Advise police or staff if you feel uncomfortable or see anything that looks suspicious. Drive carefully around the fair parking lots and the streets leading to the grounds.
“Nothing Could Be Finer,” rain or shine. Pack clothing for every eventuality. If rain does appear, the fair goes on, and rides continue unless conditions become hazardous. The evenings typically cool down, so be comfortable and bring along a cozy sweater. Once back at camp, enjoy a wonderful evening around the campfire, but be sure to practice fire safety rules and do not turn in for the night without making sure the fire is out at your campsite.
With an attraction this big, there are a few first aid booths throughout the fairgrounds. Familiarize yourself with the location of each one as soon as you arrive. Service dogs are permitted to attend the fair with you as long as they have certification and are well identified. Remember when you stop for a water break for the kids, fill your guide dog’s bowl as well, and give them plenty of rest periods in the shade.