I don’t know what plans you’ve made for this weekend, but if you live in North Carolina or within driving distance of Raleigh then listen: cancel your plans and head to the North Carolina State Fair.

It’s been YEARS since I’ve been to the State Fair…actually now that I think about it-  I’ve only ever been to county fairs and I’ve always been less than impressed.  But, a week before opening day, I came across a Facebook post highlighting all the amazing food that would be available.  You KNOW my love language is food.  You KNOW my favorite thing about Instagram (social media as a whole, really) is pictures of food.  Actually, I take that back; I love connecting with our family since we don’t live in our home state…but after that- FOOD.  Just look at this:

Yep.  You need a take a moment and wipe the drool out of the corner of your mouth.  I know that I could probably rest my case HERE for heading to the the fair, but I won’t.

One of the reasons we shy away from the fair is simple: budget.  We are a family of five, and we invited Queen Llama’s BFF to come along.  For the six of us to get in, it was $30 (Holla!!  there’s a military discount, for full admission prices and discounts click here.  Looking back, a place we could have saved major dough was asking the kids how many rides they planned to get on.  We purchased my older two kids wristbands- at $35 a piece.  However, they didn’t get on nearly enough rides to get our money’s worth.  Tickets are $1 a piece and most rides are 4-5 tickets (but can be anywhere from 2 – 10 depending on the ride).  I believe the kids rode 3-4 rides a piece.  My daughter’s best friend is not too fond of many rides, so we bought her a sheet of tickets instead of a wristband and my hubby and I used some of her tickets.  We would have actually saved if we’d bought tickets rather than wristbands.

ProTip: It might benefit you to walk around the fair once, decide what rides you all definitely want to ride.  Scope out how long lines are and how much time you plan to be at the fair before deciding if it’s best to go the wristband route or to buy tickets.

north carolina state fair, rides, raleigh, nc

Want to see a picture of bad parenting?!The Captain was all too excited to ride “Flying Bobs”….until it started going. He freaked out, hated it (it was super fast and the seats rocked). My idea to calm him down was to put my hands and and yell “Whhhheeeeee”. It wasn’t helpful AT ALL, but it was fun.

We went on the first Friday night after opening.  There were a LOT of people there, so I suggest if you do go during the weekend, plan to be there for several hours.  The lines moved fairly quickly, but with us spending about 3 hours there during a heavy traffic day, it would’ve been nice to get there a bit earlier.

In addition to eating and amusement rides, there are other attractions.  We took a break to watch our first Tractor Pull- which proved mighty interesting.  By the end of it we were high-fiving and yelling for these trucks pulling tractors on dirt tracks.  It was SO good to get out of the house (and I’ll just say it: away from politics).  There was a great moment as we were watching the Tractor Pull. My husband bonded with an absolute stranger wearing a Trump/Pence sticker (there’s no secret that I’m not a fan of Trump).  They were talking all things Nascar and it reminded me that Social Media warps our heads into thinking the entire nation is at each other’s throat and divided.  But in the “real world” we’re still more alike, still have more in common and still can relate to each other despite who we’re voting for on November 8th.

Right after the tractor pull was a beautiful fireworks show (like Independence Day level) at 9:30 pm.  Each day has a packed schedule with different demonstrations, contests and exhibitions.  You can find the daily schedule here.

We drove up from Fayetteville, and with the closure in spots on I-95, it took us a little longer than usual to get to Raleigh.  We filled that extra time with extreme car karaoke.  We parked in one of the several private lots owned by businesses that convert for fairgoers.  Our lot was $5 and about a 1/2 mile walk, but I saw several closer for $10.  I’ll never know if there was actual space closer to the Fair in the free parking area, because the husband has a knack for parking as far away from places as humanly possible.  It’s a special gift of his.

However, there are several ‘Park and Ride‘ locations in Raleigh, Durham, Cary and Chapel Hill.  You can park, take a shuttle which seems like a great option if you’re local.

The fair is open through Sunday, October 23rd.  Make it a date night, a family day or go for lunch during the Weekday Lunch Pass Program.  Just take the time to GO!




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