The North Carolina State Fair: A Foodie's Mecca
Monday, October 15, 2012, 1pm by visitRaleigh
Let's face it, the North Carolina State Fair is a Foodie's Mecca for anything deep fried. I don't care if I look like a cavewoman walking around with my giant turkey leg, or if my waistline suffers after eating a Krispy Kreme burger or deep fried cookie dough, it's worth every bite. One of my favorite parts about the State Fair is finding those hidden food gems, like Lumpy's purple sweet potato ice cream with chocolate moonshine sauce. Hint: check out the Got to Be N.C. tent. However, I'm a sucker for the latest and greatest deep fried foods. The first day of the N.C. State Fair, Andrea Weigl and I made a run for the deep fried Girl Scout cookies, this year's newest fair food.
I was top in cookie sales for my Girl Scout troop, so I had to pay homage to the deep fried caramel delights fair booth. For five bucks, Andrea and I split three cookies. The vendor asked Andrea and me if we wanted chocolate sauce and powdered sugar. Honestly, is that even a question? My Foodie philosophy at the N.C. State Fair is always, "Go big or go home." Imagine a warm funnel cake wrapped around a crunchy, chocolate and coconut flavored cookie. I know I'm making your mouth water and you're probably wondering, where can I find this decadent dessert? Don't worry, you can view the food finder to get the latest information about your favorite fair foods.
Not only do the food vendors draw massive amounts of people to the N.C. State Fair each year, it takes a lot of planning and manpower to put on the N.C. State Fair. Food and agriculture take the stage at the N.C. State Fair. Not only can your homemade Cheerwine jelly win a ribbon from the home preservation competition, you could walk away with a pretty penny for your goat or steer. The State Fair is about celebrating food and agriculture in North Carolina while creating healthy competition. I had the pleasure to be a judge for the cheese competition, home preservation competition and the N.C. peanut tailgating recipe competition. Although my stomach got a work out, it was worth every bite to be a "behind the scenes" part of the N.C. State Fair.
After a long day sampling 95 different cheeses, we determined the best of show was Chapel Hill Creamery's Calavander. Portia McKnight and Flo Hawley's cheese took the spotlight with its beautiful light yellow interior and wonderful sweet and spicy flavors. Multiple North Carolina cheeses placed in the cheese contest and are displayed in the Education Building on the fairgrounds.
I also had the opportunity to be a home preservation judge. Thankfully, I didn't eat breakfast that morning because I ate my weight in pickles and marmalades. Hundreds of people submitted home preservation entries, which included jams, jellies, marmalades, pickled vegetables and more. The winners from each category are also displayed inside the Education Building on the fairgrounds.
Perhaps one of my favorite judging experiences was the N.C. peanut tailgate recipe contest. I'm a huge football fan and I am always looking for new dishes to bring out to a tailgate. Virginia-Carolinas Peanut Promotions hosts this cooking competition each year and judging is based on categories like the ease of the recipe, creativity and use of peanuts or peanut butter. The winners are published in a cookbook at next year's fair. These peanut butter bacon sliders placed first in the recipe contest. Not only were they creative and looked appealing for a tailgate, the sweet peanut butter blended well with the savory flavors from the pork.
I encourage you to visit the N.C. State Fair, especially if you are a Foodie. You're bound to have a blast pursuing the fairgrounds for your favorite indulgences.