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Today is the day we’ve been waiting for all year long!

The 143rd North Carolina State Fair starts at 3 p.m. Thursday and runs through Oct. 21.

We can’t wait, and neither can you. But if you’re planning to go, here are some things we hope will help you make the most of your experience this year – whether you go once or every day!

Here are the basics of what you need to know:

Gates open at 8 a.m. and close at midnight every day, with the exception of opening day.

Admission ticket prices are $8 for adults, $3 for children ages 6-12 and free for children under age 5 and adults over age 65.

Get in for free on Thursday Oct. 18, for Food Lion Hunger Relief Day. Just take four cans of Food Lion-brand food and get one free gate admission. The event benefits the Food Bank of Central and Eastern North Carolina.

Tickets for fair rides will cost you $1 per ticket. They are only available at the Midway ticket booths. Download a fairground map to help you get around.

If you’re looking for a list of events, check out WRAL’s calendar of events (on the upper right side of this page) or the State Fair’s daily schedule.

Tickets are still available, as of Thursday, for a number of concerts, including contemporary Christian artists Matthew West and Sanctus Real (this Friday at 7:30 p.m.), country singer Jake Owen (Saturday), pop rock band Hot Chelle Rae (on Sunday) and several others.

If you’re looking for Scotty McCreery tickets, however, you’re out of luck. Both his Monday and Tuesday night shows are sold out. Check out the State Fair’s concert page for the latest line-up and ticket information.

Getting to the fair

Your best bet for getting to the fair is a park-and-ride service.

Raleigh’s Capital Area Transit is providing round-trip shuttle service to the Hillsborough Street fairgrounds with shuttles on three routes operating every 20 to 30 minutes each day.

The cost is $4 per person except for some children and adults over age 65. More information is available on the City of Raleigh’s website or by calling 919-996-3247.

Durham Area Transit Authority and Triangle Transit are also offering shuttle services. More information is available on the State Fair website about pick-up and drop-off sites for each of these services.

MORE VIA WRAL.COM

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