RALEIGH, NC (WNCN) – Thousands came out to attend the free Got to be NC Festival Saturday — the first time the event has been held since the COVID pandemic.

The festival opened Friday morning and brought more than 120 vendors to the area. The annual event had something for all to enjoy.

One thing the festival manager stressed was hydration, as temps reached the low 90s.

But after speaking with several guests they shared that it’s the great food that keeps them coming back.

“We were stuck in the house for a very long time. And now we can get out a mingle with people and enjoy family time,” Miranda Bullock said.

She said the festival met all of her expectations and she is just grateful to be outside.

Antique tractors and a barbecue buffet fundraiser were among the events at the festival along with music and attractions for children.

Angie Peterson, who’s been to the festival before, shared why she wanted her grandsons to take part in the festival.

“It’s their first time attending, I’ve been here before. But something fun to do on a hot Saturday,” she said.

“I think it’s pretty good. It’s nice to come out and enjoy the food and the environment. To see the animals, to see the agriculture products and equipment,” Melanie Piisner said.

However, from the several people we spoke with on Saturday, many only had one thing on their mind.

“I ate a lot. I ate,” Bullock said as she laughed.

But she wasn’t the only one.

“The food. I had deep-fried Oreos, some popcorn, snow cone, corn on the cob, a corn dog,” Skylar Marvilli shared.

“There are more rides. There are a lot more vendors and a lot more food,” Lynette Kellum said.

But others like Sloan Faby are just happy to be with family and ride the rides.

“I haven’t been on a ride yet. But I’m looking forward to one of those rides that spins really fast,” she said.

The festival was created to celebrate agribusinesses that continue to keep the country fed.

The gates to the festivals close at 10 p.m. Saturday and reopen Sunday from 9 a.m. to 8 p.m.

Officials estimated thousands came to the festival Saturday but it was impossible to know exactly how many because the event does not require a ticket.