The SC State Fair is one of Columbia’s most celebrated and well-attended events which translates into traffic, parking woes and hoards of people moving at a glacial pace. Here are a few tips to make your visit fair-ly stress free:
Parking: Your best bet is the SC State Fair grounds. There are approximately 4,000 spots at $5 a pop, and tents on both sides of the parking lot where you can catch a ride to and from your car. Independent “entrepreneur” parking lots will offer additional parking outside the grounds but it’ll cost you more (budget $10).
Traffic: “I’ve been giving the same traffic tip for years: leave early and to be patient,” said Bertam Rantin, public relations coordinator. “Under normal circumstances expect the wait to be inside 15 minutes. During a grand stand concert, USC game or peak evening hours that may be extended.”
Safety: Richland County sheriff’s deputies will be on regular patrol to assist with any missing children, stolen items or any other nefarious activity you may witness. “And patrons can come to guest services near the rocket maned by SC State employees who can contact police,” added Rantin. As always, some of best safety tips are to be mindful of your surroundings, keep a close watch on your personal belongings and kids and stay clear of any areas that are reserved for fair employees.
Things not to bring/wear: guns, knives of any sort, bullets, brace knuckles, mace, tasers, and clothing or jewelry the Fair Management may deem offensive or gang related.
Avoiding crowds: Nearly impossible. But if you’re a foodie, you can take advantage of the fair’s lunch deal where your $10 entry fee (cash only) is refunded if you adhere to the noon-2 p.m. time window.
And as for that rain? Rantin says “the only thing that rain could put a damper on is if you’re a midway person,” adding “for those that aren’t riders if its raining you can see everything else because its all covered. Rides are the only thing that will be directly affected by rain.”
This year’s 148th anniversary S.C. State Fair will run Oct. 11-22. Details: www.scstatefair.org