North Carolina Science Scene

A Duke community guide to science attractions across NC

#4 | North Carolina State Fair

October 12, 2023
Science Magazine

Ever dreamed of the chance to learn about science while chowing down on funnel cake? Say no more: the North Carolina State Fair has you covered. The fair, running from October 12 through 22 this year, will have all of the traditional carnival trappings with a little extra pizazz from exciting science-related attractions.

Above: North Carolina State Fair logo. Image courtesy of NC State Fair.

NC Forest Service

The North Carolina Forest Service operates an exhibit on the fairgrounds with talks from forest rangers and interactive activities to learn about forestry, forest fires, and forest management techniques. You can enjoy the cool fall weather while exploring the Forest Service’s outdoor attractions or check out the booths inside the Stanfield Natural Resources Center. Don’t miss the Birdman World Class Bird Show, featuring trained birds with the goal of educating about conservation. Most importantly, make sure to get a selfie with the larger than life statue of Smokey Bear.  Remember, only YOU can prevent forest fires! 

Above: Twenty-one foot tall Smokey Bear statue at the NC Forest Service fair exhibit. 

Soil and Water Conservation

Stop by the North Carolina Soil and Water Conservation Districts’ booth to learn about watersheds, erosion, water quality conservation, and soil types across NC’s varied geographic regions. You can also learn about the organization’s use of drones for natural resource conservation!

Above: State Fair visitors explore the Tunnel of Soil. 

Flower and Garden Show

The Flower and Garden Show exhibit is both educational and aesthetic, bringing a botanical garden right within the fairgrounds. Here, you can learn about bonsai, roses, plant care, and even fruit carving.

Above: Breathtaking blooms on display at the Flower and Garden Show. 


The State Fair boasts a robust set of agriculture-related activities. You can learn about the journey milk takes from the farm to your fridge and even milk a cow with the Mobile Dairy Classroom. Next, take a stroll through the miniature farm of speciality crops or explore the variety of livestock competitions hosted at the fair. Finally, head over to the Got to Be NC agriculture event. At this large-scale farmers’ market, you can purchase a range of products grown right here in North Carolina and learn about the state’s agriculture systems.

Above: The Southland Dairy Farmers Mobile Dairy Classroom.

Before You Go:


Hours: depends on the day and what you’re looking for (admissions, rides, exhibits, etc.). The fair is open Oct. 12 - 22, and you can find a detailed list of daily hours here.

Admission cost: $13 at the gate; $10 in advance online. Rides and attractions are 18 for $10 or $1 each.

Recommended Excursion: day trip


Located on the outskirts of Raleigh, the NC State Fair is approximately a ~40 minute drive from Duke University.

All photos belong to

Lydia Cox

Lydia (Trinity ’25) is from Charleston, SC and is majoring in Biology. She enjoys nature photography, arts and crafts, and game/movie nights with friends!

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