RALEIGH, N.C. (WNCN) — The North Carolina State Fair will open its gates on Thursday.

Last year, more than 960,000 people visited the fair. Hundreds of thousands are expected this year with many people wanted to taste all the sweet, savory and unique flavors at the fair.

CBS 17’s Judith Retana got a taste of the new foods introduced at the fair this year. Below is a list of the top five must-try foods for you to consider this year.

Best New Food

The Media’s Choice for the Best New Food award went to Oak City Fish and Chips for their Colossal Prawn Pop. If their name sounds familiar, it’s because Oak City Fish and Chips won Best New Food in 2023 for their salmon pop.

Owner Issac Horton stacks big shrimp on a stick with a half lemon on top. The prawns are seasoned with Horton’s secret spice and deep fried for a perfect juicy and crispy result.

Oak City Fish and Chips first started as a food truck. After peeling away the old wrap on the trailer, Horton’s team discovered the truck was originally used as a corn dog truck at the North Carolina State Fair. The restaurant has now come full circle, making itself a staple at the fair.

The Slop Bucket

If you’re a true Tar Heel who loves a good barbecue plate, look no further than the Slop Bucket from Lawrence & Perry BBQ. The folks at Lawrence & Perry BBQ have taken the typical barbecue plate but made it portable and shareable for state fair appeal.

This one’s a doozy, so stick with us. The bucket starts off with original ‘que’ fries – crispy crinkle-cut fries sprinkled with Signature LPQue Fry Seasoning, topped with authentic eastern Carolina smoked chopped barbecue, drizzled with sweet and tangy barbecue sauce. The fries and barbeque are then loaded with homemade mac and cheese, homemade coleslaw, and sweet & savory baked beans.

The Slop Bucket comes in at the number two spot for Best New Food, at least according to CBS 17’s Judith Retana.

Morning After Stuffed Turkey Leg and Roll

Keeping on the savory side, Hickory Tree Turkey BBQ is offering up the traditional fair turkey leg with a new twist.

Just in time for fall, the Morning-After Stuffed Leg gives the feeling of Thanksgiving and breakfast at once. The giant turkey leg is stuffed with cheese, eggs and tater tots drizzled with lime crema. You can finish it off with your favorite fruit jam or smoked turkey breakfast gravy.

A second version of the meal is the Morning-After Roll. The team at Hickory Tree Turkey BBQ stuff smoked turkey leg meat, cheese, eggs, tater tots and wrap it into an eggroll. Like the turkey leg, it is finished off with a drizzle of your favorite fruit jelly or turkey breakfast gravy.

Dill Pickle Donut

If your goal with fair food is something a little out of the box, Fluffy’s Hand-Cut Donuts are offering a dill pickle donut.

Fluffy’s is known for its creative takes on donuts. Some of their flavors have included a peanut butter and jelly, cotton candy, and birthday cake. This year, their dill pickle donut comes in the form of a hand-cut yeast donut frosted with a whipped dill pickle cream cheese, topped with thick, crinkle-cut dill pickle chips and sprinkled with dill.

The dill flavor is reserved for the frosting to provide some salty-sweet balance and to keep you from getting too pickled-out.

A little something sweet

If you’re looking for something sweet, it’s going to be a toss up between The Peach Cobbler Factory and Chef’s D’Lites.

The Peach Cobbler Factory is presenting what they do best—peach cobbler. Their new Cinnamon Peach Praline Cobbler is topped with caramel. The sweet peach and caramel pair well with the crunch of pralines and pie crust. It’s a straight forward, melt-in-your-mouth dessert.

Chef’s D’Lites is presenting their Deep Fried Cinnamon Apple Bread Pudding this year. Warm buttery bread pudding battered and fried. It’s topped with cinnamon crunch powdered sugar, caramel apples, caramel sauce, butterscotch chips, praline pecans and a swirl of whipped cream.

Weekday lunch pass

Want to go the fair just for the food?

The NC State Fair has brought back their Weekday Lunch Pass program this year to let you take your lunch break at the fair.

To eat, visit Gate 9 off Trinity Road, or Gate 1 off Hillsborough Street only after 11:30 a.m. on weekdays. This offer is not valid at other gates or on weekends.

Visitors will buy a lunch card at the gate for $10, cash only. The lunch card needs to be returned by 1:30 p.m. at the same gate you entered on the same day purchased the card to get your cash refund.

If you leave later than 1:30 p.m., then you forfeit your $10. This program is only for adult admission and no food is included.