The South Carolina State Fair is a place of memories. Many will never forget their first corn dog or their first ride on the Giant Wheel.
For me, it stems from making the trip from Manning as a youngster and getting dropped off at the front gate with my friend Marilyn Curtain before heading straight to the corndog stand and then off to the rides. Today, my annual visits continue with my sister, godchildren and other close friends – some of whom still depend on me to win a prize for their youngest son at the Wac-A-Mole game. So far, I’m three for three.
In advance of the 143rd annual fair, opening at 3 p.m. today in Columbia, we’re sharing some of our readers’ favorite fair memories.
And if you’re looking to create some memories of your own, the fair continues through Oct. 21. See you out there.
“I have great memories of riding the big chair-lift across the fair, watching all the people and checking everything out from a different perspective. I also remember vividly riding the Gravatron as a kid, every year, with my sister. One time the operator came out from the middle (where the controls are) and stood up sideways as the ride was spinning around and around, then started walking over us on the walls. Pretty amazing.”
Ed Eubanks Tucson, Ariz.
“As a child growing up in Columbia in the ’50s and ’60s I remember the days out of school on Friday fair days – my dad and mom taking off work to take us kids to the fair. We always had to go on Monday night the opening night when admission was free and then we went back as a family on Friday and stayed until the fair closed with the night fireworks show.”
Marion Shaw, Aynor
“Getting them to announce. . . ‘Jimmy Hoffa, meet your party at the rocket’ multiple times throughout the evening.”
Sean Hamilton, Columbia
“My wife of two years and I were students (at USC). We were in the early stages of flirting and thoroughly enjoying each other’s company. A few softball tosses later and she had the stuffed dolphin under her arm. The rest was history.”
Mason Snyder, Oakland, Calif.
“Once I looked up at the helicopter ride and my then 2½-year old was smacking on gum. I had not given him any. He confessed to finding it stuck on the ride. Gross, but I will never forget it.”
Amanda Quick Payne, Columbia
“Jennifer Miskewicz Wilson and I were both cub reporters at WIS in 2000. We decided to take the day and visit the State Fair to get out of the newsroom. We rode one ride, both got sick on our stomachs and went home. That was 12 years ago. Still remember it like it was yesterday.”
Hanna Horne, Columbia
“Almost all food memories of course. Fiske Fries, corndogs from Pronto pups, mini donuts. One of my favorite memories, though, is when they allowed booths and we worked at the Dreher (High School) band booth! We sold Gyros and had to haggle/yell out to get folks to come in, though none of us knew how to pronounce Gyro.”
Buffy Sloan Smith, Jacksonville, Fla.
“I remember going for a birthday party in middle school and got to ride the Doppell Looping with the boy I liked. The fair has always meant cooler weather (the sweaters came out of the attic), fattening food, rides and games. I even wrote a poem about the fair in elementary school. I won’t embarrass myself with sharing it here.”
Jane Ruschky, Columbia
“I adore my memories of going to the S.C. State Fair since I was 4 years old. My most memorable year was when I went in 2008 after having lived in Europe for three years and going with my then 3-month-old and 3-year-old. Nothing can beat the fair with your husband, parents, nieces and nephews and now a new generation. We live in Kentucky now but planned our entire fall vacation around the start of the fair and we’ll all be there this Friday. Creating memories like this doesn’t get much better.”
Heather Heuman, Elizabethtown, Ky.
“I have been gone from Columbia for over 20 years, but a single phrase reverberates in my head from the fair and I repeat it here in Upstate New York, but no one really understands ... ‘Jay Trapp, meet your mother at the rocket.’”
Jay Trapp, New York City