Organizers of the Got to be NC Festival say the event offers the right price during the recession.
Vendors began setting up Thursday.
Al Carter of Raleigh's Big Al's Smokehouse BBQ said he will have meat on the hickory smoker Friday morning.
"This event here promotes North Carolina products," Carter said.
And that's the point. The exhibition hall will be filled with 85 food and wine companies. From Mrs. Picky Finicky's Chutney to Pluto's Organic Seasoning, all of the products are grown or made in the Tar Heel state.
"My products are made right here in North Carolina but they are made into Jamaican culture," Pluto Richards told Eyewitness News.
There's also quite the mini-Midway. There are about 30 rides and lots of fried foods usually seen at the state fair. There's even a petting zoo and about 1,000 tractors on display.
But the best part is the price.
"The magic word is free," said Jim Knight, Festival Manager. "And that's really what's great. It's free admission, free parking and they can wander around all the exhibits for free."
However, everything is not free. Attendees are responsible for purchasing ride tickets and tickets for select shows inside the Grandstand. And while there will be some food samples, you have to purchase regular portions.
Money that is spent at the festival goes into the pockets of North Carolinians.
This is the second year for the festival. It starts Friday at 9 a.m. and ends 10 p.m. Sunday.
Organizers hope to attract about 75,000 people.