The weather may still be in the 90s, but fall festival season is almost here. The summer beach scene is in the rearview mirror and pumpkins, apple cider, and corn mazes are on the horizon. So break out a light jacket and get ready to mark your calendar for these five North Carolina fairs and festivals you won’t want to miss.
Mayberry Days- Mount Airy: September 23-29
Go back to a simpler time during Mayberry Days. This festival is designed to bring the whole family closer together by encouraging unplugging from technology and stepping back into a world of old-fashioned activities.
The festival includes a variety of shows, a parade, contests, games, and a silent auction. The event wraps up with “The Emmet”- a golf tournament that includes a buffet dinner, special guests, and entertainment. However, the highlight for many Andy Griffith fans is the music. Local bands play familiar songs that Andy performed on The Andy Griffith Show.
All venues are within walking distance of each other, and the festival operates rain or shine- so wear comfortable clothes and be prepared for any changes in weather.
Asheville Fall Art in the Park- Asheville: October 5, 12, 19
Asheville Art in the Park’s market features regional art, but this isn’t your average arts and crafts fair. Many of the local exhibitors are nationally known artists.
The event takes place in Asheville’s Pack Square Park on three consecutive Saturdays in October. You will see workers in glass, ceramics, wood, jewelry, and metal, as well as visual artists.
Art in the Park has created over one million dollars in income from area artists. Support of the festival is support of the arts.
Carolina Renaissance Festival- Huntersville: October 5-November 24
If you think Mayberry Days is an exciting step back in time, the Renaissance Festival will take that experience to the next level. According to FairsandFestivals.net, the Renaissance Festival (or Ren Fest) will allow you to “Time travel to the greatest party since Camelot. Enjoy non-stop, day-long entertainments, arts and crafts, games and rides, jousting knights on horseback, feasting and so much more.”
The Renaissance Festival is one of the most popular festivals in the Charlotte area. Harking back to the clothing and customs of the 16th century, it incorporates over 500 costumed characters and performers, 12 musical stages, and other comedy and circus entertainments. And the Artisan Marketplace alone hosts about 100 vendors of hand-made wares.
The festival is held on Saturdays and Sundays from 10:00 am to 5:30 p.m. Parking is free, but advance online discount general admission tickets are $15 for children ages 5 -12 (under five are always free) and $25 for adults ages 13 and up. Prices are $1 more at the gate.
Woolly Worm Festival- Banner Elk: October 19-20
The 42nd annual Woolly Worm Festival will be held on October 19-20. There will be craft vendors, hand-crafted items, woolly worm memorabilia, music, trampolines, inflatable rides, and food. But the highlight of the Wooly Worm Festival is the worm racing!
According to their website, woolly worm racing is entertaining for these three reasons. “First, no person is more likely to have a winning worm than any other person […] (although worms raced by children do seem to win a bit more frequently). Second, selecting names for the Woolly Worms is a delightful way to learn how amazingly creative your friends and family members can be […] Finally, there is no other experience in life that can produce the absurd euphoria that comes from cheering for a caterpillar to climb a string. It is so indisputably ridiculous that it is completely liberating!”
Admission to the festival is $6 for adults, $4 for children 6-12, and free for five and under. The hours are Saturday from 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 pm and Sunday from 9:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m.
The N.C. State Fair- Raleigh: October 17-27
The North Carolina State Fair is one event you won’t want to miss. This fair is the largest 11-day event in North Carolina, attracting more than 800,000 attendees. According to the N.C. Department of Agriculture & Consumer Services, “The Fair hosts many diverse musical acts, numerous food vendors, games booths and carnival rides, commercial and agricultural exhibitors… and is consistently ranked among the top 25 fairs in North America.”
The Fair creates an opportunity for the state’s urban population to learn about agriculture through educational and competitive exhibits. Educational opportunities and Field Trip FAQs can be found on their website. Attendees will enjoy displays featuring livestock, horticulture, cooking, and folk art, to name a few categories. And more than $600,000 in prize money is awarded each year to competitive exhibitors.
There are a variety of ticket prices based on age, military status, and group size. Go to www.ncstatefair.org and click “buy tickets” to view all of the options. Free parking and shuttles are included, but ride tickets must be purchased separately.