After being closed last year due to COVID-19, the N.C. State Fair is back. This year’s fair, entitled “Worth The Wait,” was open from Oct. 14, 2021, to Oct. 24, 2021, and featured a wide variety of attractions and food. A total of 821,463 people attended this year’s fair.

According to their website, the NC State Fair is “the largest 11-day event in North Carolina and is consistently ranked among the top 25 fairs in North America.” The NC State Fair was started in 1853 and has showcased and promoted North Carolina’s agriculture, agribusiness, arts, crafts, and culture ever since. Last year was the first time that the N.C. State Fair has been canceled since World War II.

There were no vaccine mandates to enter the fair or enforcement of masks on the site. All visitors were encouraged to get their vaccination to protect themselves and others from COVID-19. Even though Raleigh has a mask mandate, the mandate excludes properties that are operated by other government agencies so the N.C. State Fair was not subject to the city mandate. Additionally, people were encouraged to utilize masks if it made them feel more comfortable.

There were little to no concerns about the fair being able to operate safely amid a global pandemic. Kent Yelverton, State Fair manager said “We do believe that the N.C. State Fair can operate safely. Thank goodness for the vaccine. If not for a vaccine, we would not be able to have events like this. We’ve looked at other events. We’ve seen the information coming from other large events. Those events have not resulted in on-site transmission in large numbers.”

The fair also featured about half a dozen hand sanitizer dispensers, hand washing stations, and complimentary masks. The First United Methodist Church of Cary partnered with Wake County Public Health, the NC Department of Health and Human Services, and FEMA to offer free vaccines.

Several college students were able to attend this year’s fair and share their experiences amid a global pandemic.

We were able to talk to Amaya Williams, a junior in the College of Humanities and Social Sciences about her experience at the fair. “I had a really great time at the fair and the food was absolutely delicious. In all honesty, though, there were far too many people there and I only went on 1 ride. Due to the crowdedness, this will most likely be my first, and last time attending the N.C. State fair.”

We were also able to talk to Jacori Crudup, a junior in the College of Textiles about her experience at the fair. “It was a great time as always, but of course no one had on a mask which was kind of unsettling. I can’t blame people because most people go for the food, and so did I. I appreciate the fair staff for attempting to have socially distanced areas to sit and eat.”

The N.C. State Fair had a wide variety of food. Ranging from fair classics such as corn dogs and cotton candy to new introductions such as the deep-fried lobster pops from Oak City Fish and Chips and twisted chicken on tots from Hot Chix Hotcakes and Chicken.

This year there were more fair food vendors that introduced new food items that accommodated vegetarian and vegan diets. One of the new arrivals was Sassy’s Catering (Sassy’s Sweets).  A mother-daughter catering company based in Massachusetts that specialized in farm-to-table style vegan and vegetarian food, that included customizable Sweet Potato Tacos and Loaded Potatoes.

Another new food addition was Ethio-Indi Alkaline Cuisine. It was a completely vegan food truck originally based in Winston-Salem, NC. They served plant-based burgers and  hot dogs which provided fair goers the opportunity to enjoy fair classics while cutting out meat and dairy.

This year during the Fair, Nubian was able to try some of the fair favorites.

We got the Campfire on a stick from Hot Chix Hotcakes and Chicken. It was a kabob of mini pancakes and marshmallows that was sprinkled with chocolate syrup and rolled into graham crackers. While it sounded enticing, it lacked chocolate sauce and flavour which made it underwhelming.

We were also able to try the Hot Chix Tacos from Hot Chix Hotcakes and Chicken. It was composed of a Fried chicken tenderloin wrapped in a taco style pancake. We had a choice of 14 sauces and chose syrup. Overall, the scarcity of syrup made the taco dry and the pancakes’ flavour lacked authenticity.

Though this stand was quite popular and had a long line, the food did not meet the standard of quality that preceded it. This stand struggled with a lack of sauce and flavour originality. We felt that we would have enjoyed this food more if we had made it ourselves.

Finally, we were able to try the infamous Bacon Krispy Kreme Burger. It was two Krispy Kreme donuts (in place of a bun) stacked with a burger patty, bacon, lettuce and ketchup. When we received the burger it was not built like a burger despite them asking us what we wanted on it . The meat was quite tough which made it harder to enjoy the food as we struggled to chew it. In conclusion, we enjoyed the concept of a sweet and savory burger but felt that the food stand we went to didn’t do it justice.

Though the N.C. State Fair ended on Sunday Oct. 24,2021, it will be back  Oct. 13-23,2022 for those who missed it or were unable to attend this year.