Every October, thousands of North Carolinians gather at the N.C. State Fair to eat local food, ride the Ferris wheel and visit vendors from across the state.
In lieu of the annual festival, which was canceled due to the pandemic, the N.C. State Fair Division is holding an 11-day fair food event with a collection of local food vendors from Oct. 15 to 25.
The event will take place at gate nine of the N.C. State Fairgrounds every day from 10:00 a.m. to 8:30 p.m.
This event is an attempt to assist vendors during hard times, Sarah Ray, public information officer for the N.C. State Fair, said in an email.
“The live events industry were some of the first to completely close, and will be some of the last that will be able to fully open,” she said in the email. “In an effort to assist these vendors, we decided to move forward with a limited fair food option provided by N.C. vendors.”
The event will be cash-only, outside and take-out only to avoid large gatherings. Attendees will be required to wear face masks.
Ray said the N.C. State Fair Division has limited the number of vendors to 22 to allow for social distancing, and has increased cleaning procedures for bathrooms and trash removal. Ray said the division believes attendees will follow safety guidelines.
“We know they care about each other and want to come out for a bit of normalcy to pick up their favorite fair foods while not putting each other at risk,” she said in the email. “We will have public safety officers on the grounds who will assist, but as this is a take-home event, we seek to eliminate any gathering while still providing a pick-me-up for our community.”
Food vendors include Angela's Seafood, Chester's Gators & Taters, Fat Boys BBQ and more.
Sienna Zuco, a senior at UNC, said she thinks the event is a good way to support the usual fair vendors who may be struggling as a result of the pandemic. Zuco said she would go despite COVID-19 — but she’d wear a mask, socially distance and bring hand sanitizer.
“This event can be used to support local vendors by providing a streamlined source of revenue during a time frame they normally would be making more money by working at the fair,” Zuco said.
For those who don't want to go all the way to Raleigh for fair food, Chapel Hill restaurant Mama Dip’s Kitchen is also serving fair food Oct. 16 to 18 from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m.
The restaurant will be serving corn dogs, fried pickles, BBQ sandwiches, funnel cakes and caramel apples, among other dishes.
Spring Council, manager at Mama Dip's Kitchen, said the restaurant wanted to bring the state fair spirit to the Chapel Hill area.
“When I go to the fair I pretty much go there to eat, and a lot of people do, so we decided to do some state fair food just to give our community a chance to get some of the food that the fair normally serves,” she said.
Ray said she is optimistic about safety at the fair food event, since food courts in malls and other similar venues are able to operate.
"We remain committed to adhering to all applicable guidance," Ray said in the email. "The safety and well-being of all of our visitors is our number one priority."
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