Can I get a piece of lettuce?

10/26/2009 at 12:23 pm | Posted in Deep-Fried Ambassador | 5 Comments
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This is my final post as your Deep-Fried State Fair Ambassador. Sniff.

I have lived and breathed the North Carolina State Fair for two weeks and loved every minute of it. I traversed practically every square inch of the fairgrounds, tried all sorts of new things, ate 50 pounds of chocolate-covered bacon and conquered a few fears along the way.

If I could hug the fair, I would.

Although my deep-fried reign has come to an end, the memories (not unlike the weight I’ve gained) will last a lifetime.

On top of the stuff I’ve already written about, I also milked a cow:

(photo by Mom)

Watched a master scissor artist at work:

And did I mention I rode this:

Best of all was experiencing the fair with Small Fry. Seeing it through her eyes. Pure joy.

Being the fair’s Deep-Fried Ambassador was the best job ever. Thank you for reading. And, special thanks to the awesome State Fair folks for the opportunity. Mad props to the press office for an outstanding job promoting the fair through social media. This year’s attendance broke the record by nearly 19,000!

But, it’s time to pull pretty*swell out of the deep fryer and charge ahead. Be on the lookout for two new features that will launch soon. I’m really excited about both of them, and I think you will be too.

In the meantime, click the image below for a few more of my photos from the 2009 North Carolina State Fair. And, tell me, what did you enjoy most about this year’s fair? Did you try the bacon?

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Rock and the not-so-haunted house

10/25/2009 at 6:59 pm | Posted in Deep-Fried Ambassador | 2 Comments
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(This is the final installment of the “Whole Lotta Loony” series chronicling the adventures of your Deep-Fried Ambassador and Deputy Deep-Fried at the North Carolina State Fair.)

I’ve saved the best for last. His name is Rock.

But more on him in just a bit.

Delirious from all the sugar, caffeine and fry oil pulsing through our veins, the Deputy and I practically skipped down to the rides. So you’d figure that we’d try some wild, gravity-defying toss-you-til-you-hurl ride, right?

Y’all, I couldn’t work up the nerve. I stood and watched those rides, but my heart — and stomach — just said no.

Enter the Haunted Mansion.

I’ve never been inside a haunted house, so I figure, hey this counts as the “scary ride” on the deep-fried list. The Deputy and I bought four tickets each and climbed into our cart. We were the ONLY ones on the ride. Yikes.

I had visions of creepy people trying to scare us by jumping into our laps. Two girls. By ourselves. In the pitch black. Not so smart, I began to think, as our cart jerked to life and crept slowly into the darkness.

Even though there wasn’t a single live person waiting behind a corner to scare us, I didn’t release my death-grip on the Deputy’s coat sleeve until our cart rammed through the doors, delivering us back into the bright noise of the fair.

The darkness was the scariest thing. Not knowing what’s coming next. But, really, most of it was just plain funny.

Here’s a revealing shot from inside the ride. You saw it here first.

Giddy from our not-so-haunted house experience, the Deputy and I set out to tackle the final item on the deep-fried list. What better way to commemorate our adventure than with a rainbow-colored air-brushed hat?

You know you’re jealous.

After pricing a few of the airbrush vendors, we settled on Rock’s Airbrushing. They had the best prices and the most patient, helpful staff on the strip. Amanda came out from behind the booth to help us settle on our choices. Who knew there were so many? Hat color, background paint color, lettering, image or no image ($3 extra).

After lots of deliberation (again, thanks Amanda), we finally settled on white hats, rainbow background color and a star image like our badges. “Deep Fried” for me. And, well, “Deputy” for the Deputy.

Rock got to work creating our masterpieces.

He even added a sparkly coat of glitter! Fun!

And he graciously obliged to having his picture taken, grabbing a hat of his own to complete the shot. We heart Rock!

Exhausted and hoarse from all the laughing, the Deputy and I began our trek to the car. With one teensy-weensy pit stop at the mini-donut stand. No judgment.

What an adventure!

Deputy, you made me proud. Your good humor, willingness to try ANYTHING and fried-food-eating skillz are commendable. Thank you for being my right-hand woman.

Flying high

10/24/2009 at 1:12 pm | Posted in Deep-Fried Ambassador | 2 Comments
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I did it!

Finally, after 5,000 visits to the State Fair in the last ten days, I worked up the nerve to ride the 100-foot-tall Vertigo Swing.

With my stomach in my throat.

I know, I know. It’s not exactly a high-intensity thrill ride. And, yes, there were some kids on the ride. Ahem.

BUT, I have a huge fear of heights. Huge.

From the moment I heard about the Vertigo at the press lunch last week, I began talking myself into it. It’s one of the fair’s new rides, and if I remember correctly, the only of its kind in the country.

I pulled the buckle extra tight around my rib cage. And triple-checked the one between my knees. Also assessed the chains and bolts holding my seat onto the ride. They looked sturdy, and I figured, if one gives way, there were still three or four other chains (plus trusty seatbelt) holding me into place.

See? FEAR. OF. HEIGHTS.

I sat beside the nicest fella. A high-school sophomore with aspirations to attend N.C. State. It was his first ride on the Vertigo, too. He wasn’t scared at all.

Y’all, that ride was awesome. I actually kept my eyes open. And didn’t curse once.

Reptile on a stick

10/23/2009 at 2:57 pm | Posted in Deep-Fried Ambassador | Leave a comment
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(This is part 4 of the “Whole Lotta Loony” series chronicling the adventures of your Deep-Fried Ambassador and Deputy Deep-Fried at the North Carolina State Fair.)

Is it possible that all state fair food could be described as weird?  I mean, most of it is stuff we don’t normally eat in our daily lives, except for that one magical week of the year when diets and scales go out the window.

But I think some fair food is stranger than others. Like side meat. What exactly is that? Guess I’m not southern enough. Also ostrich. I hope I don’t offend anyone, especially not a farmer, but I don’t think I’ll ever taste ostrich.

For my deep-fried challenge with the Deputy, though, I had to bite the bullet (or the strange meat on a stick, as it turns out) and try a new, weird food at this year’s fair.

Our dish of choice? Alligator tail.

I can’t believe I’m writing this, but it was delicious with a capital D. For real.

It tasted like a cross between chicken and pork chop. A little tough. Good thing it came on a stick. Easier to eat that way. And it was coated in a spicy batter and fried to perfection. The dipping sauce had a kick, too. Yum.

 

We also sampled Woody’s deep-fried buffalo chicken rangoons. Double-yum. And ended the night with a deep-fried Reese’s cup. And maybe some mini-donuts. But, who’s counting?

Up next: Rock and the not-so-haunted house.

Artist at work

10/23/2009 at 9:06 am | Posted in Deep-Fried Ambassador | 2 Comments
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You look a little tired today, okay?

10/22/2009 at 5:27 pm | Posted in Deep-Fried Ambassador | 1 Comment
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(This is part 3 of the “Whole Lotta Loony” series chronicling the adventures of your Deep-Fried Ambassador and Deputy Deep-Fried at the North Carolina State Fair.)

Okay, so the last thing I want to find out about myself (and have blasted over a microphone to zillions of state fair-goers) is my weight. I’ve been pounding the chocolate-covered bacon lately. And candy apples. And maybe a biscuit here or there.

All in the name of deep-fried duty, of course. And spread out over multiple visits. But still.

So when it came time to check off another never-done-it item from my list, I decided that having the world know my age would be relatively painless. Right?

Deputy Deep-Fried and I scouted a number of carnies before settling on ours. As we approached her “Fool the Guesser” booth, she was deep into thoughtful investigation of another woman’s weight. A braver soul than me, for sure.

What I witnessed next confirmed that age-guessing was the way to go.

The carnie asked the woman to turn around, then proclaimed something along the lines of “Oh, girl. You got some junk in that trunk!”

This was met by a chorus of “oh no she didn’t!” and hoots of laughter by the gaggle of bystanders.

Age. Definitely age.

My turn at the mercy of the carnie wasn’t as excruciating, but still funny:

And here’s the Deputy, having her birth month guessed:

What’s next for us?

Three words: on a stick.

Duputy and the big guns

10/20/2009 at 6:44 pm | Posted in Deep-Fried Ambassador | Leave a comment
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(This is part 1 of the “Whole Lotta Loony” series chronicling the adventures of your Deep-Fried Ambassador and Deputy Deep-Fried at the North Carolina State Fair.)

The adventure begins!

After pinning on our badges, specially engraved with “Ambassador” and “Duputy” (oops) by one of the fair’s bling vendors, we took off for the Jaycees’ Turkey Shoot.

I’ve always been curious about what exactly happens behind that wooden barricade. Years ago (okay, maybe just a few), I believed that real live turkeys were being lined up and fired at, execution style. I’m pretty gullible, and my friends and family love to capitalize on it.

My latest conjecture was that the turkey shoot was like one of those fake gun games on the midway where you fire off a bunch of rounds at the little paper star target.

Not so much.

Those were REAL shotguns, y’all. 20-gauge. Whatever that means. All I can say is that the experience was startling, a little painful and oddly empowering.

After a helpful tutorial, Deputy Deep-Fried and I sat down and immediately put on our safety gear. In my semi-anxious state, I got a little tangled up in the cord that connects the headpiece to its hook, but finally managed to cover my ears and eyes.

First up was the Deputy. She was a pro. Loaded that gun, took aim and actually hit her target. Mad props.

Me? I popped in the frighteningly large yellow shell, pressed that gun to my shoulder and fired. Then shrieked like a little girl. The kickback was much stronger than I expected.

We filed out after the range was declared clear and waited to find out who among our group had the best shot and won a turkey. Let’s just say lucky number seven wasn’t so lucky.

But, man, did I feel like a badass.

A whole lotta loony

10/19/2009 at 10:04 pm | Posted in Deep-Fried Ambassador | 5 Comments
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With a title like Deep-Fried Ambassador, I figure it’s my duty to be a little adventurous at the State Fair. Eat something weird. Do stuff I’ve never tried before. Satisfy some long-held curiosity.

So I enlisted an accomplice (Deputy Deep-Fried), got some very official badges made and thought up a list.

How did an evening that started like this …

… end like this?

Stay tuned!

I’ll have a salad please

10/19/2009 at 12:07 pm | Posted in Deep-Fried Ambassador, I take too many pictures | Leave a comment
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Cold, rainy, happy

10/18/2009 at 10:38 pm | Posted in Deep-Fried Ambassador | 1 Comment
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Going to the fair today could have been a really bad idea. It was cold and drizzly. Small Fry was grouchy from cutting her latest tooth. And I wasn’t feeling very motivated this morning.

But the fair makes everything better.

We arrived at around 9:30 a.m., along with every other person in North Carolina who owns a stroller. Clearly we’d all received the same top secret, for-parents-of-young-children memo. Go to the fair on Sunday morning. In the rain. When the rest of the world is still in bed.

First stop: the State Fair Ark of course. Small Fry had to say hey to all her old friends. We also got lucky and caught the beekeeper in action. Enclosed in a screened-in booth, he gingerly lifted frames from the hive to reveal hordes of bees. At one point, he swiped his finger across one of the trays and took a lick of honey. Cool.

M bought us some honey sticks, and Small Fry really liked her first tastes of the sweet stuff.

Next, we took refuge from the drizzle inside the Land of Yesteryear. I was astounded at the breadth of talent in that building. We watched all sorts of artisans at work, and naturally I came across a few things I’d like to buy (including beautiful work by a self-proclaimed scissor artist). More on that in a later post.

By the time we got back outside, the rain had stopped and temperature risen just a bit. Time for lunch. Chili-dogs for M and me. And another stop at Miss Debbie’s for a caramel apple. No bacon today. Gotta pace myself.

We ran into our neighbors in Kiddieland, and Small Fry was thrilled (and slightly confused by the lack of context) to see her pals. Especially little N, who was really enjoying a plush moose his dad had won.

I’ve always thought the fair was magic. Today I learned just how real that magic is. Even with a cranky toddler in the bitter cold and spitting rain, we had a wonderful time.

Click the image below to see more photos from our adventure:

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