North Carolina State Fair – Agriculture, Education and Gluttony


The Krispy Kreme Bacon Cheese Burger

Last week I received an introduction to what a big deal state fairs are in the south. Weeks leading up to the fair, Serena warned me about the masses that flock to this ten day event but I would have to see it to believe it.  The fair has been running since 1853 with a few interruptions for the Civil War, World War II and a change in operators (apparently World War I, Vietnam or the Korean War were not enough to derail the festivities). This year over 1,000,000 people flooded the fairgrounds to attend the fair, whose mission is to showcase and promote the state’s agriculture.

We made our way into the fair after fighting some of the worst traffic I had ever seen and dropped off my entry into the KC Masterpiece Recipe Contest at the judges table(more on that later). Sure, every fair has its rides, clowns and games but when we hit a fair the main focus for us is the food. The first food booth came in 1900 and 110 years later, the fair has a myriad of food vendors that are pushing treats that are putting a generation of cardiologist’s children through college.

The NC State fair had the customary fair greats like sausage and peppers, cheese steak, ribs and kids walking around with turkey legs the size of their heads. In addition to t he expected greats, there were heart stoppers like the five pound gummy bear, chicken fried bacon, deep fried mac and cheese, Krispy Kreme Bacon cheeseburger, deep fried cobbler and the list goes on by just adding deep fried to any food imaginable. I felt that I could not attend my first NC State fair and not contribute to my early death by trying something that should never be immersed in a vat of hot grease. I opted for the chicken fried bacon with a side of deep fried mac and cheese while Serena played it safe (or smart) with a hotdog. As I lifted the breaded piece of bacon up to my mouth, Serena looked at me with a face of disgust and fear.  The bacon made a loud crunch under my teeth and I could have sworn I heard the reaper himself clapping. Being a bacon lover, I wish I could say it tasted good but the breading and grease overwhelmed the taste of bacon I know and love. The mac and cheese was a little better but the oil gave it a heaviness that just didn’t sit well. Later in the week I tried another monstrosity, the Krispy Kreme Bacon Cheeseburger. Bobby Brown and Whitney Houston were great separate but a hot mess together. The same could be said for Krispy Kreme donuts and bacon cheeseburgers. This consisted of two glazed donuts standing in for a bun, flanking a beef patty, bacon, cheese, lettuce and tomato. I would love nothing more than to say I loved it but the sweetness of the donuts with the burger made me gag. I am glad I got it just to say I did but that was definitely a onetime deal although I appreciate the creativity and thought that went behind all 1,000 calories of it.

The 5lb Gummy Bear, a dentist dream.

 

Chicken Fried Bacon aka The Reaper's Calling Card

There was also a tent where local vendors were handing out samples and selling their goods. One that stood out to me was Baldies BBQ sauce. The sauce had a nice tang and little bits of garlic and I imagined how good the stuff would taste on the ribs and immediately bought a bottle. The company was started by two brothers after perfecting their mothers/grandmothers secret recipe gave into the pressure from friends and family to bottle the sauce. They recently began bottling and with its distinct taste I think they have a great chance at success, grab a bottle and let me know if you agree www.baldiesbbq.com/

Masonry contest

Another highlight of the fair was the wide range of competitions allowing professional and amateurs to show off their skills and more than $600,000 in prize money is awarded each year. There were livestock competitions with adults and youngsters showing off their prize, cows, pigs chickens and goats to name a few. These had to be the best groomed farm animals we had ever seen and it was nice to get an up close look at them and talk to their handlers. There were competitions for masonry, sewing, pickling, cooking and plenty more. I decided to put my money where my mouth was and entered a few of the recipe contests. Below are the dishes I entered into the contest:

The perfect perm and a nice hat....thats a barnyard pimp right here.

 

A youngster and her beef in tow

CAROLINA PEANUT GROWERS ASSOC. PEA-NUTTY VEGETERIAN RECIPE CONTEST

Peanut Butter and Jelly Empanadas – click for recipe

HOUSE-AUTRY MILLS “SOUTHERN FRIED CLASSIC” RECIPE CONTEST

Zucchini Fries – click for recipe

KC MASTERPIECE “REAL DEAL” RECIPE CONTEST

Pulled Pork Empanada – 2ND PLACE WINNER – click for recipe

NORTH CAROLINA APPLE GROWERS ASSOC. APPLE RECIPE CONTEST

Apple Pie Empanadas – click for recipe

NORTH CAROLINA PORK COUNCIL TARHEEL PORK CHALLENGE

Fall Harvest Pork Soup – 3RD PLACE WINNER – click for recipe

Award winning cake

 

We had a great time at the fair, we ate well and had some new experiences. This 10 day gathering on the 344 acres fairgrounds is as its website states, “an opportunity for the state’s ever-increasing urban population to learn about agriculture through educational and competitive exhibits in the areas of livestock, horticulture, cooking, folk art and much more” and this fair does that and more. This is a fair where fun and education seamlessly exist (with a side of gluttony).  We look forward to the fair next year and have already starting thinking of some blue ribbon recipes.

Serena taking notes from pigs on the art spooning

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Categories: Adventures of Him and Her

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