Christine’s Tea Room

Cultural Shock: Viewing NC State Fair from my Asian Experience
by Christine Chen -- November 12th, 2013

1456569_688501951169673_273881455_nIt’s my first state fair experience in the US and it was great! State fair is the best chance to see the representative economic activities of a state at once, for example, 800-pound giant pumpkin for agriculture, piglet racing for pasturage, arts, culture, gardening and what I expect the most- food. The history of North Carolina State Fair dates back to 1850s at the time it was smaller and lasted for only four days. This event today, held in Raleigh, the capital of North Carolina, is the annual must-visit for many Carolinians lasting for 11 days and with 927,563 fairgoers this year! I couldn’t wait to share some of my observations with you from this cool event.


NC State Fair also includes a moving amusement park with haunted house and all kinds of thrilling roller coasters.


The part that I was looking forward to try out is the FOOD. There is a whole region with lines of food trucks and stands, that reminded me of my beloved hometown in Taiwan’s famous night market. Night markets usually start at 5:00 pm going until midnight serving hungry people after work (sometimes people get off work late till 8:00 or 9:00 pm, they could find snacks there) or friends hanging out after class. You can easily find more than 50 kinds of food in a night market with no repetition and they are usually cheap, $1~2 USD per serving. One dollar for bubble milk tea, one dollar for fried stinky tofu and two dollars for fried chicken the size of your face, umm……what a life!


Bubble Milk Tea


Stinky Tofu


Flattened Fried Chicken (as the size of a face!)


However since I was here in North Carolina, far away from my bubble milk tea and stinky tofu, I have high expectation on the food trucks in NC State Fair and what do we get? Let me see, we saw a lot of fried-food like fried onion, fried Oreo, fried funnel cake, elephant’s ear (what’s that?!), they can literally fry anything! Also, there are a number of stands selling burger, hot dog, smoked turkey leg, grilled corn, ice cream, cotton candy, and caramel apple. I have to say it’s not with extreme variance and depth, and fried food is not my favorite, but it’s a good way to see what are some of American’s favorite foods.


Fried Onion and Fried Funnel Cake that the girls were eating

We went to see a commercial “goat beauty pageant” in the Demonstration Hall. As a person who grew up in a big city like Taipei, I have limited experience visiting farms and seeing their daily activities so I was really excited about what I was going to see. There were around 15 candidate goats, each of them had sparkling and shiny fur and were led by a shepherd wearing plaid shirt, boot jeans and shiny wide waist belts- classical cow-boy outfits. They would hold candidate goat at the mouth with both hands and led the goat striking to the middle of the court, one after one. The judge is an experienced breeding expert who has been busy talking to and shaking hands with the organizers and local government representatives before the pageant started. From their first strike of the goat, the judge sitting behind the small judging table cast his eagle sight on the goat candidate observing the poise, balance and muscle movement for physical wellness. After the parade of goat candidates, they lined up in the middle of the court and the judge then went up to each candidate goat to touch on their belly and back. It was in a blink of an eye that he finished with all the touch examination (not writing anything down but memorizing!) and made the announcement of the winners. Three goats won the top prizes, but they all look very beautiful and healthy to me.


The shepherd leading their goat candidates (I can’t believe the shepherd are kids!) They were holding the goat on their mouth to keep it still.

After seeing this pageant, I wonder what was the pasturage business like in Taiwan? It turns out that due to the limited land area and dense population, pasturage is a much more concentrated business in Taiwan than in US, which usually apply advanced technology and knowledge to improve efficiency with minimum land use and are usually run by small private owners for the same reason. Nowadays the challenges lie in changing diet combination, increasing attention on animal welfare during raising, and increasing pressure from international market after joining WTO in 2002. Hope it’s something interesting to the readers!


  1. Joik
    Nov 12, 2013

    Good pictures of food in Taiwan. It represents the famous food Taiwanese love. Funnel Cake and Fired Oreos are really good. It is worth a shot.

    • Christine Chen
      Christine Chen
      Nov 15, 2013

      Good suggestions. Funnel cake and fried oreos are less seen in other food stands or shops from my experience. Next time I’ll give it a shot!

      If you’d like a taste of Taiwanese food, especially snacks, here in Durham…..I know there is a place to try out. Mr. Wok serves featured Taiwanese snack buffet on Friday and Saturday evening. Really good!

      • Joik
        Nov 15, 2013

        Actually I like Taipei Cafe more. It serves many dishes which are tasted good! Mr.Wok is good and it is a buffet which means you can get really full. There is no good bubble tea over this region. However, you can taste good bubble tea as if you go to DC. There is a shop selling great bubble tea. Share with you!

  2. Russell
    Nov 14, 2013

    No mention of the burger of the year? The NC state fair has always featured one really disgusting food item, i think the last year I lived in NC it was the deep-fried Krispy Kreme burger, a burger with a doughnut for a bun that got deep fried…. gross

    Oh how I wish the NC state fair was more like the night markets in Taiwan or Thailand!

    • Christine Chen
      Christine Chen
      Nov 15, 2013

      Really? I think I must have missed the deep-fried Krispy Kreme burger 🙁

  3. Tawnee
    Nov 14, 2013

    Agreed with the fried oreos recommendation: Surprisingly (shockingly?) good! Thanks for taking us on a walk through the fair from your perspective; it was fun! Also loved seeing the go-to night market foods in Taiwan.

    • Christine Chen
      Christine Chen
      Nov 15, 2013

      I’m glad you liked it! 🙂

    • Christine Chen
      Christine Chen
      Nov 15, 2013

      I’m glad you liked it!

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