I went to the North Carolina State Fair on Saturday with my sister and her kids. The kids went off to do their own thing, and Sis and I hit the gardening exhibits and checked out the livestock and the 640-pound pumpkin.

Turns out that Saturday was the highest attendance day EVER in the history of the Fair, with 146,000 people coming through the gates in one day. We were packed in like sardines on the Midway, which is the main reason Sis and I stayed away from it as much as possible. Unfortunately, it’s the only place where you can get those awesome Italian sausage, pepper and onion sandwiches, so we did have to work our way up there for a little while at least.

Now for a shameless plug. Last Saturday night (Oct. 14), and again on Wednesday night (Oct. 18), the live entertainment portion of the show was opened by a special friend of mine singing the Star Spangled Banner.

Here’s an article from the Raleigh News & Observer regarding her performance.

taylor.jpgIt’s a heady experience, standing up in front of up to 5,500 fair-goers to sing the national anthem — especially if you’re only 11 years old. But Taylor Fleming, who lives in Raleigh with her parents Kelly and Ken Fleming, is an old pro at N.C. State Fair appearances. This is the third year she has been invited to sing the “Star Spangled Banner” before the headline acts who perform nightly during the fair.

Taylor began singing at the age of 2, but the State Fair is still a special gig. She dreams of being a country star one day.

Inspired to do something to acknowledge the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, Assistant Fair Manager Mike Pleasant started opening the Dorton Arena shows with the National Anthem that year. That first year he played a CD with an instrumental rendition. The next year, people started recommending local vocalists. Pleasant said the unpaid anthem gig has gotten so popular, he now gets CDs and audition tapes from local singers.

Taylor got her first shot in 2004, and her big voice keeps getting her invited back.

Saturday night Taylor went on before country star Jo Dee Messina, and next week she performs before Little Big Town. Previously, she has warmed up the crowds for artists such as LeAnn Rimes and Josh Turner.

“I can understand why so many people want to do it,” Taylor said.

Taylor is my boss’ granddaughter, but I’d give her this plug even if she wasn’t. She’s that good.  Remember while you watch her video that she’s only 11 years old!  You can check her out at her website.

Taylor has two CD’s out (samples are on her website), and has been invited to perform on Star Search. Remember the name … you heard it here first, folks. And she’s a sweet kid, too!