RALEIGH – The Got to Be NC Festival, a family-friendly celebration of agriculture, food and fun, returns to the N.C. State Fairgrounds May 19-21.
“The Got to Be NC Festival offers something for everyone, including farm animals, antique tractors, bluegrass competitions and a barbecue cook-off,” said Agriculture Commissioner Steve Troxler. “We encourage everyone to come celebrate the state’s $84 billion agriculture industry as we kick off the start of the growing season.”
One of the festival’s highlights is the Homegrown Fare presented by Lowes Foods. Visitors can sample and purchase food, wine and beer from about 100 N.C. companies in the Expo Building. Admission is $3 for ages 12 and older, but guests can receive two free admission tickets by presenting their Lowes Foods loyalty card at the door.
This year, the Got to Be NC Festival will have an expanded music lineup inside Dorton Arena, featuring 11 free musical acts from North Carolina. On Saturday, May 20, bluegrass fans can enjoy the Carolina Bluegrass Battle from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. The competition will include eight local bluegrass bands vying for prize money and a chance to perform at the N.C. State Fair and PreddyFest 2017. The contest will be hosted by The Church Sisters, who also will give two special performances before and after the competition.
Also on Saturday, Masonic lodges from across the nation will take part in the annual Carolina Pig Jig barbecue cook-off. Starting at 11 a.m., visitors can sample barbecue, chicken and side dishes, and place their vote for the People’s Choice award. Tickets are $15 for adults, $5 for children 7-11, and free for children under 7. All proceeds benefit the Masonic homes for children in Oxford.
The festival also includes one of the largest displays of antique tractors and farm equipment in the Southeast. Guests can see the antique tractors in action during the tractor parade daily at 1 p.m. In addition, visitors can see farm animals ranging from baby chickens and goats to longhorn steers and alpacas.
Other attractions include more than 30 carnival rides and games for all ages. Tickets are available for $1 each, 14 tickets for $12, or 30 tickets for $20. On Friday and Sunday, visitors can take advantage of a special Ride All Day Wristband for $20.
New attractions include the Pig Patch Birthing Center, with daily pig births beside the midway; the State Fair Flyer, a chairlift ride that debuted at the 2016 N.C. State Fair and offers panoramic views of the fairgrounds; original sand sculptures by artist Ed Moore; Kids’ Tractor Pedal Pulls on Friday and Saturday in the grandstand; the Bulldozer Sandbox featuring construction demonstrations with working excavators and bulldozers; and more.
Admission and parking at the festival are free, but certain attractions have a separate admission charge. Gates are open Friday from noon to 10 p.m.; Saturday from 9 a.m. to 10 p.m.; and Sunday from 9 a.m. to 8 p.m. For more information, visit www.gottobencfestival.com.