A day trip from Wilmington to the N.C. State Fair

WILMINGTON, N.C. (CAPE FEAR WEEKEND) - Just a short two hour drive north of Wilmington is North Carolina’s largest 11-day event, the North Carolina State Fair. Each year hundreds of thousands of North Carolinians flock to the fairgrounds to spend a day exploring different foods, rides and games.

What’s usually the Raleigh Flea Market is transformed into 344 acres of carnival rides, exhibitors, food vendors, livestock and more. For the last decade, the festival attracted more than 800,000 attendees each year, some years even surpassing one million visitors.

The first N.C. State Fair took place in 1853 and since then it’s exceeded expectations and has been ranked among the top 25 fairs in North America. Now, it’s been family traditions for generations and has greeted first timers to everything the fair has to offer.

Amanda Niemic, an attendee on opening day, was awarded aunt of the year by her nephew for taking him to the fair rather than keeping him in the classroom on a school day.

“We are here because we’re so excited to get some Carolina kettle corn, play games, ride some rides and get some fried Oreos. We come every year but I brought my nephew with me and it’s his first time, so we got to skip school today and I’m just the coolest aunt today so I’m so excited to be here,” said Niemic.

While walking through the fairgrounds you’ll pass hundreds of games that might look easy… but are harder than they seem. Each one showcasing anything from dart balloons and water guns to the rope ladder. Although the workers have mastered the game like a pro, don’t be fooled. Emma Dollenmayer and I had a tough time winning some, but we had a blast trying anyways!

Another must do during a daytrip to the fair is to hop on a couple of the rides. Our fan favorite was one where you fly high in the sky overlooking the entire fairground, which is called the State Fair Flyer. It’s a ski-lift like ride that gives you views of the attractions and crowds of people from above. Another way to see epic views is to ride the 155 foot Ferris Wheel.

The fair’s last day open is on Sunday, October 22nd and tickets range in price from free for children 5 years old and younger to $13 for older adults. They fair also offers package deals to heighten your experience, you can find those here.

Before you head back to Wilmington after a long fun-filled day, make sure to stay for the firework show that happens every night at 9:45 p.m.

Lauren Schuster

Lauren Schuster

Lauren joined WECT in September of 2022 as a multimedia journalist/reporter. Lauren grew up in a suburb of Chicago and graduated from Western Michigan in 2022 with a degree in broadcast journalism. While attending school, she interned at WOOD-TV 8 in Grand Rapids, Michigan. She also worked as a lifestyle reporter for Rose Tv in Rosemont, Illinois.