Along with Howling Cow ice cream, giant turkey legs and roasted ears of corn, the cup or carton of cold milk found in the Scott Building has to be one of the most enduring food traditions at the N.C. State Fair.
And for 27 years, Carlyle Teague has helped make sure the milk was there and that there were volunteers on hand to pass it out. Teague is the State Fair’s milk man.
Teague, a 1958 graduate of NC State, is retired now. But for 25 years, he was president of the Cooperative Council of North Carolina, a trade association for a wide range of cooperatives. One of the council’s members was a dairy cooperative and, with that cooperative, Teague helped set up the first milk booth at the fair in 1985. Teague had previously been director of public affairs for the Department of Agriculture, helping to publicize the fair.
Since 1985, Teague has lined up volunteers to work in the milk booth and arranged for the milk to be delivered. Even in retirement, Teague is at the fair each day, helping set the booth up in the mornings.
Teague sees a lot of familiar faces these days, folks who make it a point to stop by the milk booth during their visit to the fair. “It’s something that families have developed over time,” he says.
But he says the adults get more excited about visiting his booth than the kids. “It’s probably the grown-ups when it comes to milk,” he says.
The booth is now run by the promotion committee of the N.C. Dairy industry, and Maola provides the milk. Teague says the record for sales is 35,000 cups or cartons over the 11 days of the fair. He says 2,500 sales in a day is a big day. And chocolate milk, he says, is a much better seller than regular milk.
“Chocolate is a two-to-one favorite,” he says.
Teague continues to work at the fair, even in retirement, because he likes the atmosphere. “I’m interested in seeing the people,” he says.