Experience the 2016 Mountain State Fair

A quilter in The Mountain Heritage Circle demonstrates her craft. |photo courtesy of the NCDA&CS

The 2016 Mountain State Fair threw open its gates and welcomed visitors to Fletcher to celebrate North Carolina agriculture on Friday, Sept. 9.”For me, the N.C. Mountain State Fair signals the start of fall,” said Agriculture Commissioner Steve Troxler. “We’re excited about this year’s fair and look forward to celebrating the best of Western North Carolina.” Troxler and Mountain State Fair Manager Matt Buchanan were on hand Friday to kick off the fair at noon on Friday.The fair runs for 10 days with featured activities each day, including many tried and true events and performances that patrons look forward to every year, as well as newly added treats this season.The Mountain State Fair breaks down their attractions into four main categories.CompetitionsAcross the state there are numerous fairs and festivals and the subject often comes up as to what the difference in the two celebrations might be. It seems the competition aspect is the defining factor for a fair, and the Mountain State Fair has multiple competitions to check out, including craftsman, artists, and all manner of food preservation. Registration has closed, but visitors can see the entries and take in the presentation of ribbons in the Davis Event Center.EntertainmentNew acts such as the Moto Maniacs and The USA Extreme Breaking Team will join fan favorites like Brad Matchett’s Agricadabra Presents: The Science of Ag, The Hogway Speedway pig races, and Dixie Starlight Express — a display of cowgirl patriotic precision on horseback entertain audiences throughout the run of the fair.FoodA veritable cornucopia of North Carolina agricultural goodness is on display at the Mountain State Fair, along with some offbeat treats to try for fun. Enjoy an ostrich Philly steak quesadilla from Gaston County’s Oakridge Farm, and follow it up with sliced caramel apples served a la mode. There are more than 75 food vendors on site providing something for all taste buds — plus a chance to try every fried treat on a stick this side of the Cumberland Gap — so no one should leave the fair hungry.Farm to FairLearn about agriculture live and in-person at the Maternity Ward. Veterinarians and agriculture students have done their best to plan things out so that there is a live calf birth every day of the fair, and they will be on hand to oversee and narrate the live births to educate the public about the miracle of bovine birth.One of the main additions to the fair this year involves The Mountain Heritage Circle expansion. The Heritage Circle is the heart of the Mountain State Fair and its expansion honors that.”The N.C. Mountain State Fair is a celebration of both Western North Carolina agriculture and the region’s cultural heritage,” said Troxler. “I’m pleased that we were able to expand Heritage Circle this year and accommodate more than 60 artisans and crafters.”The Heritage Circle follows the west side of the fairgrounds and includes the Virginia C. Boone Mountain Heritage Building, Heritage Music Stage, Heritage Demonstration Tent and Heritage Walk. The current focus is on enlarging The Heritage Walk to include new exhibits like open-fire cooking demonstrations, a chuck wagon, a spring pole lathe, and a working moonshine still — all exhibits fairgoers can enjoy this year.The fair is a Western North Carolina tradition that drew 190,000 attendees in 2015. One thing organizers want the public to be aware of as they come and go this year is a change in traffic pattern leaving the Interstate 26 exit. There are highway patrol officers posted to assist with any traffic trouble.North Carolina held its first state fair in 1853 and has celebrated that state’s agricultural traditions ever since. The Mountain State Fair is a wonderful example of this long-standing practice.