Resources for Teachers
Tips for organizing an educational day at the N.C. State Fair
- Save on admission to the N.C. State Fair.
- An easy way to save on admission to the State Fair is to come Thursday, Oct. 18, on Food Lion Hunger Relief Day at the Fair. Exchange four cans of Food Lion brand food for one free admission ticket to the Fair. The food collected benefits the Food Bank of Central and Eastern North Carolina.
- Plan early and buy tickets in advance. Advance tickets are available from Aug. 1 through Oct. 13 and are $6 for adults ages 13-64 and $2 for kids 6-12. Kids age 5 and younger are always free. Groups of 40 or more people can order tickets in advance for $5 each, plus a small convenience fee for online purchases. Additionally, beginning Sept. 27, tickets can be purchased in person at several locations around the Triangle area. Check the Tickets page for more information.
- We do not currently offer a specific discount for educational groups, or require that groups come on a specific day. However, some exhibits will offer special activities for youth groups on Youth Celebration Day, Monday, Oct. 15.
- You can unload and load your bus at Gate 10 located at the corner of Blue Ridge and Trinity roads, then park the vehicle in that same parking lot on Trinity Road. Parking lot attendants or security personnel will direct you to the appropriate place to park. If the lot is full, you will be directed by parking attendants to an overflow parking lot in Carter-Finley Stadium.
- View a map of the fairgrounds, including the Gate 10 drop off location, by visiting the Maps tab in the Get to the Fair section of this website.
What to bring/What's available
- You can bring your own diaper and lunch bags, wagons, strollers, umbrellas and other personal items to the fair, just be aware that all baggage is subject to search at the gate for weapons, glass bottles, alcohol, drugs and other prohibited materials.
- As for meal packages, organizers can contact our on-site restaurant, Murphy House, to ask about possible group meal discounts. Contact Johnny Sledge with Murphy House at 919-497-2046 to discuss options.
Plan your day
- The State Fairgrounds are large, and navigating the grounds to take in all the sites on your "to-visit list" can be a challenge without a plan.
- Coming soon! The N.C. State Fair provides a scavenger hunt online that helps direct students to various educational exhibits and displays on the fairgrounds. Print out a copy to bring with you and set out to explore exhibits such as Field of Dreams, Cultivate a Career, the Flower and Garden Show, Horticultural Exhibits and Heritage Circle.
- Pick up a copy of the Daily Schedule at entrances and information booths. The program includes a map of the grounds that will help you locate buildings and exhibit halls of interest.
- Most exhibits have people on hand that can answer questions and create an interactive learning experience for children. Some recommended exhibits:
- The Village of Yesteryear, where nearly 100 crafters make and sell traditional crafts.
- Cultivate a Career, a new exhibit where visitors can go on a a fun and interactive career personality scavenger hunt to learn about the wide variety of jobs in the agricultural industry. Lots of hands on activities for all ages can be found here.
- Field of Dreams, a display of various crops grown in the state. Students can also "harvest" some crops and "sell" them at a market in the exhibit. The exhibit features a Kidz Zone with lots of fun activities including a simulated cow milking booth, bean bag toss and scarecrow-making activity.
- Livestock barns (Jim Graham Building, Expo Center, Kelley Building), where cattle, sheep, goat and hog shows are held daily except for Monday, Oct. 15. Junior grand champion cattle, sheep, hog and goat winners will be on display in the Expo Center throughout the State Fair.
- Heritage Circle, where a working tobacco barn, working blacksmith shop and wood turner can be seen.
- The Flower & Garden Show area. More than 90 demonstrations will be held throughout the fair dates, with experts offering advice on such topics as pumpkin carving, flower arranging and proper plant care.
- Children can follow winding pathways though beautiful gardens grown by local organizations, and climb on the giant Adirondack chair.
- The Folk Festival provides a great place to sit, rest and enjoy dance and music. This event started 63 years ago to celebrate North Carolina's rich and diverse musical and dance heritage.
Education Building. As its name implies this is a great place to see the handiwork of North Carolinians on display. Quilts, canned goods, 4-H displays and decorated cakes are among the items on display. Students can also step on the scales at the N.C. Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services Standards Division exhibit and get a print-out of their official weight. (Teachers' choice on whether to weigh before or after lunch!)
- Arts and Crafts (Kerr Scott Building). This area features adult entries and student art from all grade levels on display.
Other activity ideas
- Take a picture of yourself at as many photo op spots as you can find on the fairgrounds. These are located in the Cultivate a Career exhibit, Field of Dreams exhibit, next to the Giant Pumpkin in the Expo Center, Flower Show area, Inside Dorton Arena and Kiddieland Fun Park.
- Decide which agricultural heritage activity you found most interesting on the fairgrounds (blacksmith, boat making, craft-making, growing large horticulture crops, cutting flowers, raising and showing livestock, making clothes etc.), then write a short essay about it.
- Try to name as many crops, animals, pieces of machinery and crafts as you can in alphabetical order.
- Visit the State Fair history exhibit in the old school house at Heritage Circle. Write a brief explanation of when and why the fair was started. What years DIDN'T the fair take place and why? For more information about the history of the N.C. State Fair, visit this History section.
Insider tips for unique educational experiences
- For answers to frequently asked questions about taking children to the fair, visit our Accessibility Web page.
- Check out all the various fruit and vegetable entries, including the largest pumpkin and the largest watermelon, in the Expo Center. There is a photo op site near these giants. One of the most interesting categories is for unusual shaped vegetables.
- Check out the "buzz" at the Bee and Honey competition area in the Expo Center. Beekeepers are on hand to talk about beekeeping and the critical role bees play in producing our food. The exhibit features a screened cage with an active beehive.
- Smokey Bear and forestry exhibit. Up the hill from Heritage Circle, be sure to check out the 21-foot-tall Smokey the Bear display and learn about trees and how to prevent forest fires.
- Steam-powered sawmill. Also up from Heritage Circle is a working steam-powered sawmill. Volunteers are on hand to explain how the engine works and show how it was used to transform timber into boards.
- Learn about Hunter Safety with the Wildlife Resource Commission's exhibit. Learn the proper handling of firearms, and test your skills at our target shooting range. Also learn about the animals that inhabit North Carolina's forests and oceans with hands on activities, videos and guides to answer all your questions.
- Stroll through the Old Farm Machinery exhibit near the Children's Barnyard and see a collection of vintage tractors and horse-drawn equipment on display. Volunteers are on hand to answer questions and explain how equipment was used.
- See how tobacco leaves were cured in a traditional flue-cured tobacco barn in Heritage Circle. On Friday, Oct. 12, a tobacco-stringing contest will be held at 2 p.m. and then the working barn will be loaded with tobacco. Once the barn is loaded, a fire will be started to begin the curing process. A mock tobacco auction will be held on Friday, Oct. 19 at 2 p.m. in the Expo Center.
Where students can see other kids competing or participating in the Fair
- Livestock barns and shows. Many youngsters participate in livestock shows, some barely taller than the animals they are showing. In the Expo Center, students can even milk a cow at the N.C. State University Animal Science Club's Milking Booth.
- Folk Festival. This event features kids of all ages competing in dance and singing.
- Arts and crafts. School work for grades K-12 are on display in the Kerr Scott Building.
- Poultry tent. There is a variety of birds to see in this tent, but one of the highlights for many people visiting the Fair is holding a baby chick. N.C. State University Animal Science students oversee this popular display.
- 4-H displays in the Education Building features scenes created by 4-H groups in the state.
- County Fair Best of Show exhibit (Commercial & Education Building), where adult and junior Best of Show winning entries from fairs across the state are displayed.