Funnel Cake, Fudge and More Fair Food This Week

Food vendors attracted lots of visitors to the State Fairgrounds on Saturday, Oct. 17.

Though COVID-19 safety concerns forced the cancelation of the N.C. State Fair, the smells and tastes of the annual event can still be found for a limited time this week.

From deep fried Oreos to grilled corn and much more, an 11-day initiative put on by the NC State Fair through Sunday, Oct. 25, offers a chance to satisfy your fall cravings in the absence of a full event.

“With the upheaval of all our lives this last year, we felt like we could provide some semblance of normalcy to our fairgoers by hosting fair food vendors for take-out service,” said Sarah Ray, public information officer for the fair. “Just a bit of a taste of what we’ve all been missing. It also afforded us the opportunity to support 22 local small businesses who have not been able to operate this year with all fairs and festivals canceled.”

From 10 a.m. to 8:30 p.m. each day, Triangle foodies can find an array of fair food menu items near Dorton Arena, at Gate 9 of the fairgrounds off Trinity Road. Most vendors are cash only, selling fall favorites in to-go packaging.

The N.C. State Fair requires masks and social distancing for the event, which exists without the fanfare of rides, carnival games and other activities but still draws hundreds of people during peak hours.

On Saturday afternoon, some percentage of attendees were not following those COVID-19 safety measures, without masks in close proximity to others. In response to these large crowds, Ray stressed the policies put in place to keep everyone safe.

“The State Fair continues to encourage all the provisions put in place when we announced we’d be having fair food available during the dates of the annual fair: attendees should wear a face mask, practice proper social distancing and take their food to go,” Ray said. “As additional measures, we have placed hand-washing stations in the area and our vendors are providing hand sanitizer at their points of sale.”

Even if it had to be eaten in the parking lot, the allure of a hot funnel cake spurred Larry and Dixie Nunnery to make the 45-minute trek from Benson with their dog, Mandalyn, on Saturday.

“We got corn funnel cake, corn and gator bites,” Dixie Nunnery said, sitting on the back of an SUV. Much of that food was packed in behind her to be taken home to their grandchildren.

Fair food is a main draw for the couple each year, like for many North Carolinians. The Nunnerys said getting to purchase fair food felt like a normal autumn experience in the midst of a year that has been anything but.

“We have attended the fair for several years now,” Larry Nunnery said, in between bites of the fried dough. “We always enjoy the fair.”

Another state fair tradition is the annual food drive, benefiting the Food Bank of Central & Eastern North Carolina. While the canned goods won’t get you free admission this year, organizers are still encouraging visitors to the fairgrounds on Thursday, Oct. 22, to drop off non-perishable food items for those in need. The food drive is a partnership with Food Lion and ABC11-WTVD. Food Bank volunteers will collect donations in the parking lots off Trinity Road from 8 a.m. through 8:30 p.m.

For more information on the canned food drive and the fair food vendors, visit

1 Comment

  • Linda Fuller says:

    This was a fun activity for a good weather day! Particularly recommend the pimento-cheese filled crab balls, kettle corn, fudge and funnel cakes! Our group went a little crazy but it was all good.
    Be forewarned that you will encounter several people without masks, but social distancing is being practiced.

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