On this, the last day of the fair

10/21/2012 at 8:36 pm | Posted in About town, snap happy | 2 Comments
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Sophie’s hair smells of turkey leg smoke.

Lily hasn’t put down the stuffed fish she won.

And Marc and I are exhausted.

A fitting end to the State Fair, one of our favorite holidays of the year. Yes, a holiday. Because it’s just plain wonderful.

I went three times. Once for work (really). I sampled some of this year’s new deep-fried goods: cinnamon bun covered with glaze and bacon (good) and the deep-fried Girl Scout cookies (just okay). And my favorite meal remains a McBride’s corn dog with Al’s Fries of course. Although the “barbecue sundae” was tempting. I’ll leave that one to your imagination.

We visited the animals, danced to bluegrass music in Heritage Circle and met a walking tree, which was one of the coolest things I’ve ever seen.

Until next year, State Fair. We’ll miss you!

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The giveaway of my dreams: NC State Fair prize pack

09/25/2012 at 10:18 am | Posted in About town, Bloggy | 55 Comments
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So it’s no secret around these parts that I’m cuckoo for the North Carolina State Fair. Nothing will ever beat serving as the fair’s first Deep-Fried Ambassador.

Well, except for motherhood. Maybe.

KIDDING.

But really. I love me some State Fair. Especially when it’s dipped in batter, deep fried and served on a stick.

Seeing the fair through Lily’s eyes over the last few years has made it even more magical. And this year Sophie will get to tear it up. (Consider yourselves warned, farm animals.)

I love it all. Food, animals, rides, games, history, crafts, competitions, concerts, agriculture, culture period. I’ll never forget my corn dog epiphany. Or that one time I shot a rifle.

The Deputy and I are gearing up for our annual visit, this year with two little ones in tow. Should be quite the scene. I’ll also probably go back five or six or twenty more times that week. Because I can never get enough.

So you can imagine how stoked I am that the State Fair wants to share the love WITH YOU through the best giveaway in the history of internet giveaways ever.

Check out what’s up for grabs:

>> 4 admission tickets to the North Carolina State Fair
>> 4 ride books (with a coupon for 2 rides in each book)
>> 4 t-shirts (S, M, L, XL)
>> 4 stickers

!!!!!!

To enter the giveaway, just leave a comment below telling us your all-time favorite thing to do (or eat) at the State Fair.

And for an extra chance to win, you can tweet about this giveaway:

Bring on the fry oil … @pretty_swell wants to send you to the @NCStateFair! Enter to win a deep-fried prize pack: http://bit.ly/OS5x9n

If you choose to tweet, please leave a separate comment below so it counts as an extra entry. This giveaway ends at noon on Monday, Oct. 1. And be sure to stay tuned to NC State Fair happenings through their Deep-Fried blog, Facebook, Twitter and YouTube.

Hope to see you there!!

(I’ll be the one wrestling my kid for the last bite of deep-fried Snickers bar.)

**Congratulations to our winner, Julie L!! Enjoy the fair!**

Friday weigh-in: deep-fried edition

10/21/2011 at 7:21 am | Posted in me | 5 Comments
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I did not eat this at the state fair.

I swear. (Can you even imagine?)

But I did eat many, many other things. Which shall remain nameless. Except for the red-velvet funnel cake slathered with cream cheese icing. Because it was that delicious.

Needless to say, this was not a good week for the ol’ diet. But it was my choice to indulge at the fair, and I’m happy that I did. How many times in my life will I get to dig into a deep-fried oreo or frozen chocolate-dipped cheesecake on a stick? Not many. So this week was totally worth it.

Here are my stats:

The scale says: +1.4 lbs
Fried chicken count: 0
Fried other things count: Too embarrassing to admit …
Exercise: Lots of walking around the fair (that counts, right?), lots of stairs
Highs: Fitting into pants that I had to unbutton a few weeks ago
Lows: Skinny girls in trendy fall clothes everywhere (one of the perils of working on a college campus)
Moral victory of the week: Eating a ton of fresh veggies to combat the deep-friedness
Moment of weakness: The entire State Fair
Progress toward goal: 2.6 lbs down, 17.4 to go

How was your week? Have you been to a fair this season? What’s your favorite fair-food?

Sophie's first visit to the State Fair!

10/19/2011 at 11:33 am | Posted in About town, baby sunshine, snap happy | 9 Comments
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You guys know I’m cuckoo for the fair. So it’s no surprise that I’m starting the girls’ training early.

Sophie was a champ on her first foray into all things magical and deep-fried. She stared down livestock, ogled mommy’s barbecue plate, lit up at all the new sights and sounds. And she slept. Because the fair is exhausting.

She also told me I could eat another corn dog for her. You know, until she grows some teeth.

Big sister had a ball, as usual.

Making mommy proud.

State Fair 2010: The "wee bit embarrassing" part

10/22/2010 at 9:45 am | Posted in About town, just plain fun | 11 Comments
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State Fair 2010: a cultural experience

10/21/2010 at 12:52 pm | Posted in About town, Friends, just plain fun, snap happy | 2 Comments
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So after countless visits to the State Fair over the years and a stint as the deep-fried ambassador, I learned something important this week: I have A LOT to learn about the fair.

Like, tucked back behind the big midway is a neat exhibit by the N.C. Wildlife Commission, complete with shooting range. Meet Beth and Sarah, my awesome tour guides:

If you venture down across the pond (a pond? where there used to be boat rides?) you can say hello to Smokey the Bear. And he’ll say hello right back. Which is definitely freaky, especially when he joins in on your conversation. Dude has some ears.

Just around the corner from Smokey is a functioning sawmill, with lumber that you can actually buy. And behind those guys, on a little peninsula that juts out over the pond, is where the fireworks are staged.

Before Tuesday, I’d never explored Heritage Circle.

::hangs head in state fair shame::

There is so much cool stuff back there. Like a blacksmith at work, fresh-pressed apple cider for sale and tobacco that’s been strung in a competition.

I saved some face with my tour guides by admitting that I knew of the free hushpuppies at the old grist mill. But the moment was fleeting. Because then I had to confess that I never knew the grist mill actually functioned. The system of pulleys and belts, whirring about overhead and dipping into the floor below, was astounding.

What an unexpected state fair adventure! It was so refreshing to get out from the deep-fried madness and escape to this little nook.

Now, that’s not to say we didn’t eat. A ham biscuit. NC State ice cream. Al’s fries. Steak sandwiches from the NC Cattlemen’s Association (which, according to Sarah, are the best at the fair).

And, we may just have done something a wee bit embarrassing … but that photo deserves a post all its own. Stay tuned!

State Fair 2010: culinary odyssey with the Deputy and her Assistant

10/19/2010 at 11:55 am | Posted in About town, just plain fun, snap happy | 11 Comments
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Y’all, I ate this.

A cheeseburger between two glazed Krispy Kreme donuts.

Well, I didn’t eat the whole thing. But one-third counts, right?

And the weirdest thing of all (weirder than a donut cheeseburger)? I didn’t hate it.

Using the State Fair’s cool Food Finder, we scoped out new delicacies to try in advance of our trip. While old friends like ham biscuit and hot dog beckoned (and won our attention. burp.), we bravely ventured out of our State Fair food comfort zone. A few times.

I don’t know why I closed my eyes. Made sense at the time.

The Deputy and her Assistant took a more cheerful approach:

Next up?

Deep-fried bacon and cheese mashed potato bites, also new to the fair this year.

While the potato filling was a little bland, the spicy cheese sauce made up for it. And, really, who doesn’t love cheese sauce?

Always up for a challenge, the Deputy ventured next for Frito pie. Which came nestled in its very own little Frito bag:

We capped off our adventure with some old favorites: a chili dog for the Deputy and deep-fried Reese’s Cups for me. Because it’s a State Fair requirement to eat up until the very minute you leave, right?

I’ll leave you, dear readers, with a word of caution from the Deputy and her Assistant. Don’t ride this after you’ve eaten all that:

*Have you been to the fair yet? What are you planning to eat? Do share!

State Fair 2010: a day of firsts

10/18/2010 at 10:36 am | Posted in About town, family, just plain fun, Small Fry, snap happy | 9 Comments
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This is Small Fry before her very first State Fair ride.

We spotted the carousel just after we entered the fairgrounds, and she seemed intrigued by the horses. So Marc took her hand and got in line. I was skeptical. After all, this is the child who refused to ride a kiddie train with her grandmother over the summer. I thought for sure we’d be dealing with an epic meltdown once that merry-go-round starting going ’round.

I stand corrected.

And proud.

With her face frozen in this expression the ENTIRE time, she rode and rode and rode. Seriously. Look at those lips:

And it’s easy to see how triumphant she felt at the end of the ride. Having her own little cheering section helped, too.

Our first trip to the 2010 State Fair was a day of firsts, indeed. Not only did it mark Small Fry’s very first fair ride, it also was my sister-in-law’s boyfriend’s (got all that?) first-ever visit to the State Fair.

I have to give it to Reid. For a first-time fairgoer, he ate us under the table. Before we’d even been inside the gates for 10 minutes, he’d already scored a cinnamon bun. He ventured next for some mini donuts, then tasted one of the fair’s new delicacies this year: a chocolate-covered frozen Twinkie. And that was just the beginning. I shed a tear of pride.

Small Fry LOVED saying hello to all of her barnyard friends from last year, especially Mr. Horse and the baby piggies. Here she is strolling the Expo Center with her Bebe:

And holding baby chicks with her Aunt Amy:

And getting a good look at Mr. Horse:

She also tried out a fishing game with her dad and won a trio of “nemos” in different colors.

And, this is our girl after packing away an ice cream cone covered in sprinkles. Those suckers ended up EVERYWHERE. Even nestled in her bellybutton. See them tucked in there?

It’s safe to say that the grown-ups had just as much fun as Small Fry. Here’s my sister-in-law Amy, with Reid, on her all-time favorite ride, the Alpine Bobs. You could hear her shrieks over the music. Awesome.

Tuckered out after a long day at the fair. Belly full of ice cream (and a hot dog bun, natch). Pinky the pig in hand. I’d say our first visit was a success.

Up next? Some shenanigans with the Deputy. Stay tuned!

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?

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.

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