The North Carolina State Fair is one of the most anticipated events of the year for many reasons. There's the rides, the games, the music, the animals, but perhaps most importantly, the food. After waiting an entire year for it, there's nothing we all want more than greasy fair food, from fried Oreos to caramel apples to bigger-than-your-face turkey legs.
While these classics are certainly delicious, this year's fair is bringing in several new foods that you're not going to want to miss. Prepare to drool, and get your tickets ASAP to be the first to try out these wickedly awesome new creations.
1. Fried Bacon Pimento Cheeseburger Egg Roll
By combining a cheeseburger and egg roll in one, then throwing in some bacon and pimento cheese for some extra oomph, this dish will undoubtedly satisfy your fair food-lusting tastebuds. It's cheesy, meaty, and crispy—pure perfection. Get one while it's hot at the Woody's Wings lunch stand, located near the top of the midway.
2. Deep Fried Jell-O
Just when you thought you've seen it all, S2 Concessions whips this one up. Yes, you read that right, it's deep fried Jell-o. To make it, a ball of Jell-o is covered in a biscuit-like batter, then fried. Frying the mixture allows the Jell-o to blend into the batter, giving it a gooey consistency. You're gonna want to try this one out just to say that you did. Find it in Kiddieland, and while you're there stop to try the deep fried Girl Scout cookies as well. After all, it's cheat day right?
3. Fresh Crab Dip
Fresh crab from Captain Neal's Seafood in Columbia, NC is mixed with cheese dip and special seasonings to create a next level crab dip that is sure to knock your socks off. The dip is warm and gooey and served with crackers, perfect for a pick-me-up snack after riding rides all day. No judgement if you're caught with this cheesy goodness dripping down your chin. We can't all be as perfect as this crab dip. Find it near the Graham building at the fairgrounds.
4. Chocolate Raspberry Whoopie Pies
If you're already thinking it's time for dessert (or you're skipping to dessert first), I'd recommend these delicious chocolate raspberry whoopie pies. Soft, fluffy, and creamy with a little surprise on the inside, this dessert is sure to satisfy your sweet tooth. As a bonus, they're easy to eat, as they require no utensils, allowing for more time exploring the fairgrounds. Get these delectable whoopie pies by La Farm Bakery near Gate 2.
5. Chicken Sausage Baguette
Foget about all those other greasy, fried fair foods and try out this chicken sausage baguette from Baguettaboutit instead. A fresh French baguette is stuffed with NC-made chicken sausage, cheese, and a special sauce that will have you looking at hot dogs like they're trash. Baguettaboutit's food truck has appeared on Food Network with Anthony Anderson, so you know this creation is bound to be good. Get one hot and fresh between Dorton Arena and the Graham Building.
6. Phoenician Fish and Chips
Your classic fish and chips just got a fair food-style upgrade with these Phoenician fish and chips made by Neomonde. Their fish filets are lightly battered and fried and served with fries tossed in a Za'atar and sumac spice blend. You also get a choice of three sauces for your dipping pleasure: herbed tahini, tzatziki, and harissa. Find this delectable platter near the State Fair Flyer terminus by the Scott Building.
7. Man's Sandwich
Feast your eyes on the holy grail of all fair foods. Known as the "man's sandwich," this concoction is a grilled cheese sandwich wrapped in layers of fried, juicy bacon. You get your cheese, meats, and carbs, all wrapped up into one delicious, yet possibly artery clogging, work of art that only those with the strongest of appetites can finish. This one's for the bucket list. Check it off at Bubba's Bacon near Gate 11.
8. Jamaican Jerk Wings
If you're looking to spice up your state fair experience, turn to these Jamaican jerk chicken wings, which are marinated in Cool Runnings Jamaican Cuisine's special jerk seasoning and baked to perfection. Crispy on the outside, and warm and juicy on the inside, they'll add just the right amount of spiciness to a cool fall day at the fair. Just know you're limits, as you wouldn't want to be that guy that has to find milk at the fair to calm down your tongue. Test the hotness yourself at their booth near Gate 11.
9. The Elvis Ice Cream
Besides rock and roll, Elvis gave the world the equally great combination of peanut butter and bananas. John Deere Ice Cream's take on this is a a homemade banana ice cream infused with real peanut butter and banana chunks. It's creamy, sweet, and sure to keep you cool after a long day of walking the fairgrounds. Get a scoop in Heritage Circle, then work your Elvis dance moves at the various concerts at the Homegrown Music Fest.
10. Chicken Pineapple Bowl
Explore the tropical side of the North Carolina State Fair with this meal in a pineapple. The dish is made with smoked chicken, sautéed peppers and onions, jasmine rice, and of course, fresh pineapple. It's made by Chick-N-Que, which boasts having the best Eastern-style BBQ in North Carolina. Whether you're a fan of Eastern NC BBQ or not, you're sure to love this tropical concoction, which can be found near the Scott Building at the fair.
11. NC Lump Crab Meat Hushpuppies
Hushpuppies are perhaps the greatest side item to accompany North Carolina barbecue at the fair. Throw in some crab meat and thyme, and you've got yourself a whole new ball game. Ragin' Cajun is serving up these hushpuppies with a sweet chipotle butter that will have you begging for more. If you're lucky, maybe they'll give you extra to eat straight up with a spoon. I'd do it. Find these little bites of heaven near the Grandstand.
12. The Violet Vampire
At every fair, game, carnival, or amusement park I go to I always seek out the funnel cakes. There's nothing better than sweet fried dough topped with heaps of powdered sugar—until now. Gobblin' Gourmet has completely upgraded the funnel cake by infusing it with blueberry and topping it with powdered sugar, homemade blueberry pie filling, fresh whipped cream, and white chocolate drizzle.
If your jaw just dropped, shut it. Then get in your car and head to Gate 1 at the fair to indulge this amazing creation that will definitely change your life for the better.
13. Deep Fried Cuban Roll
Cubans are already pretty great, but everything is made better when it's deep fried. Chef's D'Lites stuffs slow cooker seasoned pork, sliced ham, swiss cheese, and pickles into a roll then deep fries it into crispy, cheesy, meaty goodness. It's served with a spicy honey mustard sauce for dipping that will probably become your new favorite condiment. Don't miss out on this revolutionary food item that can be found near Dorton Arena.
14. Fried Chicken and Waffle Kabob
You probably thought chicken and waffles couldn't get any better. Well, you're wrong. Chick-N-Que one-ups this classic Southern dish by threading fried chicken and mini waffles on a stick, then drizzling it with Sriracha maple syrup. Your tastebuds are going to die of happiness.
You'll also be pretty happy with the portableness of this dish, which allows for more time to ride the ferris wheel a million times and lose at every game you attempt at. Don't worry though, these fried chicken and waffles make up for any loss. Head to the Scott Building to claim this prize of a food.
15. Blueberry and Corn Cupcake
Corn cupcake, say what? It's true, this cupcake is made with fresh NC-grown corn and topped with a blueberry buttercream frosting made from NC-grown blueberries. Don't let the corn scare you away though, the cupcake is still super sweet and is sure to succeed in satisfying your dessert craving.
The fact that it's made from locally-grown ingredients will make you feel super good about yourself as well. Get one at the Bluebird Bakery/Common Kin Bakery in the Scott Building, or try their other flavors: rocky road and raspberry rhubarb cupcaron.
16. NC Low Country Boil
If you're not familiar with Southeast coast culture, a low country boil, which is equivalent to a New England clambake, takes the fresh shellfish catch of the day, dumps it in a giant pot of boiling water, and cooks it with vegetables and sausage.
Ragin' Cajun prepares their boil with North Carolina shrimp, corn on the cob, potatoes, and andouille sausage, steamed with Old Bay seasoning and served with a fresh, homemade cocktail sauce. The result is steamy, perfectly cooked perfection, and will leave your tummy feeling happier than a deep fried pizza would. Get this east coast classic near the Grandstand.
17. Jamaican Pork Wrap
Marinated pork, sautéed peppers and onions, lettuce, and a special jerk sauce are all rolled into this delectable wrap by Cool Runnings Jamaican Cuisine. Like their wings, this wrap can be a bit spicy, but it's worth it to experience the exquisite Jamaican jerk flavors. Grab one near Gate 11, then go find some ice cream to cool down your tongue.
18. Deep Fried Strawberry Cream Puffs
The vendors at the fair know the only way to truly enjoy any dessert is to deep fry it, because if you're gonna indulge you might as well enjoy as many calories as you can.
These cream puffs by Gobblin' Gourmet are made with fresh cream and strawberry jelly encompassed in a pastry ball and deep fried, then topped with powdered sugar and chocolate drizzle. It's sure to fulfill all your sweet, deep fried food fantasies. Find them near Gate 1, and don't be ashamed of consuming more than a few. It's totally worth it.
19. Shrimp Bites
Forrest Gump knows that there are tons of ways to prepare shrimp, from steamed to boiled to sautéed, and now to deep fried in ball form. N&T Concessions is introducing this dish at the fair this year, which is made from herb seasoned shrimp, peppers, and onions, which are then deep fried into bites and served with a special homemade spicy dipping sauce.
These shrimp bites are crispy and golden, and would definitely be a winner with Forrest Gump. Meaning, you should grab some at the Rabbit Barn before they're gone.
20. Fudge Nut Brownie Apple
Caramel apples are another highlight of fair food culture, but with Miss Debbie's Specialty Apples you're going to forget all about those plain caramel-dipped apples you're used to. Take the fudge nut brownie apple, which is an apple dipped in rich caramel, covered with nuts and baked brownie pieces and drizzled with dark chocolate.
It's almost too big to fit your mouth around, but I'm sure you'll find a way to eat it out of pure excitement of trying this super spectacular dessert. Also try Miss Debbie's other specialty flavors at the fair, including the Triple Threat, Finding Dory, and Creme Brûlée apples, located inside the Commercial/Education Buildings.
21. Caramel Apple Crisp Ice Cream
And now, what we've all been waiting for: the new annual Howling Cow ice cream flavor is revealed! This year's flavor, by popular vote, is Caramel Apple Crisp, an apple ice cream with cinnamon caramel swirl and graham cracker crumbles. Verdict: it's delicious.
This ice cream tastes like a straight-up apple pie, with the scoop of vanilla ice cream topping already prepared into it. It's sure to be a huge hit among the masses at the fair, so prepare for a mile-long line of hungry people dying to try it. You're definitely not going to miss the line, but if you can't find the Howling Cow stand, it's located at the end of the Grandstand, across from the Rabbit Barn.
Look for NC State Spoon University's marketing director, Memoree, who will be scooping up this scrumptious ice cream at the stand!