We’ll See You at The State Fair!

September 15, 2012 | By and | Comments (7)
Raleigh, NC NC State Fair

Photo by Gary Clark

It’s not fall in the South without hitting up your local state fair, most of which kick off this month. Southern Living photographer Gary Clark logged dozens of hours capturing the magic of the fair. Here, are some of the insider tips he picked up along the way. We’ll raise a funnel cake to that.

You’ll need a good two-to-three days to really take in the North Carolina State Fair in Raleigh. Only have one day? Start in the back at the botanical gardens and work your way forward. Make sure you don’t miss the demolition derby, and stay for the fireworks. They’re a great way to end your day.

State Fair in Raleigh, NC

Photo by Gary Clark

The swings are classic. The lines get really long at night, so ride during the day. You’ll get a good look at what else the fair has .

State Fair in Raleigh, NC

Photo by Gary Clark

The Louisiana State Fair has some of the best shows around. This was a family-run circus out of Florida.

State Fair in Shreveport, LA

Photo by Gary Clark

Fair food has come along way. Candy apples now come in as many flavors as Baskin-Robbins has ice cream flavors. Indulge in red velvet funnel cake and the Krispy Kreme double cheeseburgers with bacon, and hand-dipped footlong corn dogs. Don’t worry about counting calories, you’re going to be walking and screaming them off anyway.

Raleigh, NC State Fair

Photo by Gary Clark

Don’t forget your camera at night. A long exposure and tripod go a long way to making stunning color Spirographs, like this image from the Louisiana State Fair in Shreveport. If you don’t want to carry a tripod, get one of the smaller gripping tripods that can wrap around lamp posts or smaller poles.

Shreveport, LA - LA State Fair

Photo by Gary Clark

What’s your favorite state fair experience? Tell us in the comments!

Related Links:
The View From The Top in Chattanooga 
Happy Tailgating Y’all!
Behind The Scenes Secrets of Monticello
The Modern Day Milkmaid Behind The Scenes at Cruze Dairy Farm 


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  4. Hoilday Inn Raleigh – Crabtree Valley Mall

    Gary’s photos are incredible and really captured the bright, festive mood of state fairs. We love being so close to the NC State Fair each year and watching our guests return with big smiles and souvenirs. We appreciate the advice: don’t count the calories. Fair food is well worth the caloric splurge!

    September 20, 2012 at 9:39 am
  5. Mona Middleton McClendon

    The Alabama State Fair used to be held in the western section of Birmingham and to me at 7 years old was a HUGE fair. Riding the Mighty Mouse was close to traumatic because the one my Dad and I rode in had an opening underneath at the nose of the mouse and I lost one of my flip-flops. I just knew I would be the next thing that went through that hole!

    September 17, 2012 at 1:03 pm
  6. Leah Johnson

    I have lived in New Orleans for 12 years and I can’t believe I’ve never been to the Louisiana State Fair! Ever since I watched Charlotte’s Web as a child, I’ve always wanted to go to one. I definitely need to try some fair food sometime soon!

    September 16, 2012 at 11:49 pm
  7. Alyssa Rasnick

    Arkansas School for the Blind and Visually Impaired is fortunate enough to take our students on a field trip to our state fair every year in Little Rock. One of my students lives in a rural area and is completely blind and is reluctant to try anything new. In 2010, she refused to try any food or ride any rides but in 2011, she decided to ride the swings for the first time…and loved it! I had never seen her smile so big! Getting to ride all the crazy midway rides the rest of the day with her and watching her “emerge from her turtle shell” is my favorite fair memory.

    September 16, 2012 at 2:57 pm

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