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Mountain State Fair – A Short Drive for Tons of Fun

By Sherrie Norris 

In 1994, a wise decision was made to stretch the state fair atmosphere to the western region of North Carolina. The drive to Raleigh for the annual state fair was just too much for many folks in the far-reaching mountain areas.

Thanks to the wisdom and foresight of event leaders, the N.C. Mountain State Fair became its own venue — and has grown tremendously since its early days. The fair draws about 190,000 people to the WNC Agricultural Center in Fletcher each year.

Rides, exhibits, competitions, and of course food booths galore, are just part of what’s in store when the fair begins September 8 and runs through September 17. 

According to event spokesperson, Jill Taylor, “Competitions are the heart of the fair. There is a lot of pride at stake for our entrants, and our guests love to see the creativity and skill on display. We look forward to great entries this year across our competition categories.”

Along with visual arts, various culinary arts and livestock competitions, the fair also recognizes the performing arts, such as clogging and gospel singing, as well as a “Little Miss and Master” pageant. There is even an ice cream eating contest.

For those interested in entering baked goods, visual art items, garden goods and other related items that you think are “ribbon worthy,” most county extension offices will provide a Pony Express delivery option, but all entries must be dropped off by August 25.

Racing and swimming pigs, splashing sea lions and a swirling and spinning new spectacular ride are a few of the new attractions planned for the 2023 fair.

The NC Mountain State Fair near Asheville offers the best of the best when it comes to rides, competitions, entertainment, food and so much more. Photo submitted.

In addition, food lovers can sample and buy some of the tastiest North Carolina products at the debut of the Got to Be NC Pavilion in the Chevrolet Davis Event Center.

 “We look at the entertainment lineup every year and work to bring in new and exciting shows, rides and activities for fairgoers, to pair with our heritage crafters, livestock events, competition exhibits, musical stages and agricultural exhibits,” said Sean McKeon, Mountain State Fair manager. “It’s shaping up to be a great fair.”

The Chase’s Racing and Swimming Pigs show features four races where petite piggies zip around the track to take home the winner’s checkered flag, bragging rights and a cookie. Two of the races feature a water obstacle where the piglet’s make a big splash.

Sea Lion Splash is a fun and educational show that demonstrates trained and natural behaviors of these enchanting marine mammals. 

On the midway, Sub Zero makes its scream-inducing debut, where it will join nearly 40 rides that range in intensity from kiddie level to thrill-seeker. 

Keep an eye out for a baby male dragon or a juvenile female dragon accompanied by a dragon master. MythiCreatures is an interactive strolling act that creates unique selfies for dragon lovers.

Popular returning acts include chainsaw artist Joey Rowe, the Human Canon Ball – David “The Bullet” Smith, a clogging competition, mountain music, comedy hypnotist Brad Matchett and an agricultural magic show. 

David Smith, also known as the “human cannonball” will be among the entertainment acts returning to the NC Mountain State Fair this year. Photo submitted.

During the week, the fair will host a series of Caring for our Community Days to raise awareness of local groups serving veterans, kids, seniors and those who are food insecure. Salute to Service will be Monday, Sept. 11; Caring for our Kids Day will be Tuesday, Sept. 23; We CAN Fight Hunger Day sponsored by Ingles is Wednesday, Sept. 13; and Caring for Seniors Day sponsored by Blue Cross and Blue Shield of North Carolina is Thursday, Sept. 14.

Advance ticket sales will run through Oct. 12 and are $10 for adults and $5 for youth ages 6-12. Unlimited ride wristbands are $30 each and can be purchased online. Wristbands are for one day only and vouchers can be redeemed at the Ride Ticket Plazas once the Fair begins.

“Advance sale tickets are the best prices you will see all year for the State Fair,” said Kent Yelverton, State Fair manager. “Prices increase once the fair begins, so buy your tickets now, especially if you’re bringing a big group.”

This year, ride ticket credits will be placed on a chipped card which will be presented at each ride and will automatically debit the ticket count for that ride. Ride ticket credits will carry over year-to-year.

“Like many other big state fairs, we have decided to make the switch to ride ticket cards for our guests to use,” Yelverton said. “This new system is easy to use and ensures that everyone spends less time in lines and more time enjoying their time at the Fair.”

Other special themed ticket packages are offered.

The fair offers an experience unique to North Carolina and is an unparalleled value with free entertainment, thrilling rides and games, hundreds of animals, endless family activities, competitions, vendors and creative deep-fried delights. 

For more information, visit www.ncstatefair.org or connect on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram at @ncstatefair.org.