RALEIGH — The Got to Be NC Festival marks its eagerly awaited return to the fairgrounds May 20-22 following a two-year break due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Antique tractors, a barbecue buffet fundraiser on May 21, North Carolina food products, rides, games, livestock, kids’ activities, music and entertainment will welcome guests back.
“We’re excited to be back and we’ve been busy planning for new attractions and activities as well as festival favorites,” said Agriculture Commissioner Steve Troxler. “North Carolina agriculture and agribusinesses will certainly be front and center as we celebrate an industry that has continued to keep us fed despite significant challenges the past few years.”
The Food Lion Local Goodness Marketplace in the Expo Center will feature around 75 North Carolina food and beverage companies showcasing their sauces, snacks, wines, meats, skincare items and a variety of food products for sale. North Carolina distilleries will be showcased at the festival for the first time.
Hours for the Food Lion Local Goodness Marketplace are Friday from noon to 8 p.m.; Saturday from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. and Sunday from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Admission is $3.
“We saw interest in local food and beverage products grow during the pandemic, and we want to continue that momentum as it is helps support North Carolina farmers and agribusiness operators,” Troxler said. “That, in turn, helps ensure we continue to have access to local foods moving ahead.”
To further recognize the contributions of agriculture, the festival will feature a Young Farmer of the Day sponsored by the Farm Credit Associations of North Carolina. Honorees will be selected from nominated farmers. Winners of the N.C. State Fair Junior Livestock Scholarships will also be recognized by Commissioner Troxler.
Other new changes or additions include a new location for livestock exhibits in the Jim Graham Building; the addition of Germ City – a popular handwashing activity and exhibit at the N.C. State Fair; demonstrations by working dogs, including a USDA-trained and NCDA&CS-handled dog who looks for spotted lanternfly, a highly destructive pest, and a demonstration of Police Dog Association animals; and the debut of the Keith King BMX Stunt Show at the festival.
The annual Carolina Masonic Pig Jig fundraiser to benefit the Masonic Homes for Children in Oxford will return May 21 with all-you-can-eat barbecue sampling. Around 20 chapters of Masons will compete for bragging rights in the one-day competition and fundraiser. Tickets are $15 for ages 11 and up, $5 for ages 7-10 and free for ages 6 and under.
On May 22, kids can check out Action Alley, where they can see and touch large trucks and work equipment. Firefighting equipment and dozers will be part of the hands-on activities from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Families can also enjoy the cow milking demonstrations by the Mobile Dairy Classroom, tractor pulls, pedal tractor rides and the Kidz Corral activity area.
And, the festival wouldn’t be the festival without its large display of antique farm equipment and a daily tractor parade at 1 p.m.
The carnival features one price, ride-all-day wristbands on Friday and Sunday. Cost is $20 for wristbands.
If you are planning to attend the 2022 State Fair, you can take advantage of the Casey’s Big Ticket Weekend offer and buy 2022 State Fair tickets for a discount. Tickets are being sold at the Waterfall ticket booth. Cost is $8 for adults and $5 for children. Prices at the gate for 2022 will be $13 for adults and $7 for kids.
Festival gate hours are noon to 10 p.m. May 20, 9 a.m. to 10 p.m. May 21 and 9 a.m. to 8 p.m. May 22. Building and exhibit hours are noon to 8 p.m. May 20, 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. May 21 and 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. May 22. Carnival hours are noon to 10 p.m. May 20; 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. May 21 and 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. May 22.
Admission and parking are free. More information is available at www.gottobencfestival.com.