Is the State Fair worth the price?

The NC State fair returned this past October bringing overpriced food and rides. The fair, while a classic fall staple, requires more money than some high schoolers and families may want to spend. (Photo Courtesy of Maddie Bimonte)

For the past six years, I’ve gone to the North Carolina State fair with my friends. I always get excited to walk around and go on all the rides. In the past, the cost of the fair never fazed me, probably because I didn’t really understand money. However as I have gotten older, I saw how the fair really added up, and cost me tons of money. 

This year, I was less interested in going to the fair. The rides seemed to be identical to the ones last year, and I did not get as excited as I had been. I went to the fair two seperate days and had two completely different experiences. 

On day one, I was shocked to find nobody there on such a nice Tuesday afternoon. I spent the most amount of money that day; from parking to admission and the wristband, I had spent a total of $63. It sounds ridiculous, but $15 of that comes from choosing to park close to the fair. Since I dropped all my money on basic things, I had no money to buy food at the fair for this day. 

I tried to go on as many rides as possible, and luckily there were no lines because nobody decides to go at noon on a Tuesday. The only ride I avoided was the really tall spinning ride called The Zipper. I don’t mind heights, but that ride just seems so unsafe that I have no interest in going on it. 

I did enjoy the rides for the most part but many seemed repetitive. For example, I went on probably four different variations of the claw ride, where you’re in a claw and moved through the air. While it was fun, if you are not interested in riding the same ones over and over, I wouldn’t waste your money on a ride wristband.

The rides have their appeal: However, they rarely add many new ones each year, so if you buy a wristband, just know you’ll be riding the same rides as last year. Also, many of the ferris wheels use tickets or the wristband to go on, but the main big ferris wheel and the sky tram cost an additional fee. Honestly, while they provide a good area for instagram photos, the lines are insanely long, and as a result, the smaller ferris wheels have shorter lines.

The fair also offers a couple of questionable activities, one being the pony rides. Many people don’t support them because of the indecent treatment of the horses. Some of the animal activities in general make me uncomfortable and while it seems cool to pet a bunny or pig, the animals are forced to sit there for hours while many people come up to pet them. 

Something I don’t really like at the fair is the constant heckling by the fair workers to play their games. It’s more awkward when you’re one of the only people at the fair so it’s just a constant stream of “come play my game!” I usually just ignore them but after about an hour, I just get so sick of hearing people shout at me I try and avoid them.

The food is the only thing I would consider worth the price at the fair. Although it seems overpriced, many of the stands are run by North Carolina businesses and use the fair as a place to create interest in their food. There’s also a ton of options, so the fair provides something for people with food allergies or dietary restrictions.  

Also, the fair features local churches or businesses who provide food at a relatively low cost. The Cary First United Methodist Church advertises their all day menu featuring breakfast and their famous country ham biscuit. Personally, their food is the best value to me and the money goes towards the church and their outreach. If you’re looking for good food, check them out first.

Personally, if you have the money to spend, it’s fun to walk around the fair with your friends and maybe try out some food. If you aren’t interested in dropping over $40 for a day to walk around and eat, support another local business or go to the farmers market. 


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