10/13/09 — Chocolate-covered bacon among treats on 2009 State Fair menu

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Chocolate-covered bacon among treats on 2009 State Fair menu

By Laura Collins
Published in News on October 13, 2009 1:46 PM

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Matthew Varnadoe, Murphy House manager and State Fair vendor, deep fries Ho-Hos and provides chocolate-covered bacon at the State Fair preview Monday.

RALEIGH -- Chocolate-covered bacon, a handcrafted urn built for two and racing pigs all have a home this year at the 142nd North Carolina State Fair.

This year's fair runs from Oct. 15 to Oct. 25 and features traditional favorites as well as new experiences for fairgoers. Friday marks the official opening, but there will be a half-day preview on Thursday at 3 p.m. at the State Fairgrounds in Raleigh.

Agriculture Commissioner Steve Troxler said the fair, themed "A Whole Lotta Happy," has something for everyone.

"We're talking about the agriculture. We're talking about technology, and we're talking about having fun. So this is the place to be," he said.

The fair will have more than 400 food and commercial vendors, more than 100 rides and a record number of exhibits. Although all the new foods haven't been announced yet, the fair will definitely have chicken-fried bacon, funnel cake fries, deep-fried banana splits and caramel and bacon covered candy apples.

Director Brian Long said more people also have "blue ribbon fever this year" with a jump in almost every competition category, including horticulture which has almost 1,000 more entrants than last year. A couple of the more interesting entries include a tapered, four-sided walnut urn designed to hold the ashes of two people and a vest made entirely of drink can tabs.

In addition to the largest portable slide in the country, seven new rides are making their debut at the state fair, including the Vertigo Swing Tower, the Chopper Hopper and the Drag Strip.

"(Vertigo Swing Tower) is the only one in North America. It's 109-feet-tall and when you're riding that you're 86 feet off the ground," said Charlie Belknap, of Powers Great American Midways. He said the swing tower also have an extensive "Las Vegas-style lighting show."

In addition to the food, rides and contests, Troxler said it's important for people to take advantage of the educational opportunities at the fair.

"One of the very biggest things we do at the state fair, or any fair, is education," he said. "Think about how many people we have in North Carolina right now that are not on farms, that didn't grow up on farms. We want people to come out who understand this state's largest industry, which is agribusiness."

The annual Demolition Derby will be 7:30 p.m. Oct. 23 and 2:30 and 7:30 p.m. Oct. 24. The championship match will be 2:30 p.m. Oct. 25 at the Sam G. Rand Grandstand.

The Tractor Pull will be at 6 p.m. Friday, 1 and 6 p.m. Saturday and 1 p.m. Sunday at the Grandstand.

Concerts featuring Chris-tian contemporary, country and Motown performers run every night of the fair beginning at 7:30 p.m. at the Dorton Arena.

For a full list of events and attractions, visit www.ncstatefair.org.

Admission to the fair is $7 for adults, $2 for children aged 6-12 and free for children under 5 and adults over 65. Tickets can be bought in advance online for $5 for adults and $1 for children at www.ncstatefair.org.