Go Columbia

THE STATE FAIR A Family-Friendly Experience

Great view of all the fair has to offer.
Great view of all the fair has to offer. Photos Forrest Clonts

The South Carolina State Fair comes to town Oct. 9-20, and folks are looking forward to traditional fair favorites like concerts, Fiske fries, prize-winning games and the ferris wheel.

But the State Fair also will showcase a mix of new attractions — including a free live daily circus — with traditional favorites and numerous historical offerings during the 150th anniversary fair Oct. 9-20, in Columbia.

“Our State Fair is a celebration of everything that is great about South Carolina, and we are excited to put that greatness on display again during our special 150th Anniversary event,” said State Fair general manager, Nancy Smith.

The South Carolina State Fair is an award-winning organization — a nonprofit awarding $300,000 in scholarships per year across South Carolina. There is no increase in ticket prices this year, even with a new free daily circus, a new free concert series featuring regional acts and a slew of 150th anniversary activities and exhibits.

“Our goal every year is to create a family-friendly experience at a family-friendly price,” said Smith. “As we celebrate 150 years, the best possible birthday present will be to have people from all of our diverse communities across South Carolina come through those gates and make even more prize-winning memories.”

“CIRCUS at the Fair” will be performed three times a day. It’s an hour-long show under a 48-foot big top tent beside the Ellison Building near the South Gate entrance. Each show features a variety of stunning entertainment from a renowned lineup of traditional and unique circus acts including the High Wire, the Wheel of Destiny, the Globe of Death, the Trained Dog Show, Duo Silks aerialists, America’s Show Camels, and a dazzling international cast with Ringmaster Ian Garden. View details at https://www.scstatefair.org/entertainment/circus.

“We want to offer our patrons even more ways to enjoy the fair with their families this year, and this circus will combine a mix of the new with nostalgic entertainment that has captivated our state through the years,” Smith said.

Circus shows begin at 2:30, 5 and 7:30 p.m. and are included with an admission ticket.

The circus isn’t the only new attraction at the S.C. State Fair this year:

▪ A new 150 Celebration Wheel ride will make its American debut. So not only can visitors see lots of action under the big top tent, but high above it as well. It’s a 150-foot giant Ferris wheel that includes 36 temperature-regulated gondolas, creating a lofty encounter that fairgoers can experience over and over again. Each gondola carries six people.

Take note: the 150 Celebration Wheel costs extra to ride, and it is not included in the Pay-One-Price wristband or fast pass promotion.

▪ In addition to the 150 Celebration Wheel, there are more than 70 rides featuring sky-high thrillers, family-friendly fun rides and seven new spins, including the Star Dancer, a spectacular claw that swings 360 degrees; the Double-Decker Merry-Go-Round, a stunning menagerie of zebras, elephants, rabbits and some spinning bowls for the fearless; Morbid Mansion, filled with frights and creepy corners; Twister, dual- motion cars on an elevating platform; Flivver, a fun, leisurely ride on winding tracks; Love Bug, a gentler, kid-friendly version of the Himalaya; and the Red Baron, in which riders will squeal in delight as they go up and down, pretending to fly. Learn more at https://www.scstatefair.org/attractions/rides.

▪ This year, several regional and local musical artists will be featured on a new Pepsi Place stage. Popular acts include The Tams, The Restoration, The Latin Caravan, Tokyo Joe, JJ Hairston, Reggie Sullivan, Eloveation, Swim in the Wild. View the full lineup at https://www.scstatefair.org/entertainment.

“Our musical acts have long been an anticipated part of the fair, and we wanted to build on this tradition by widening our net to include more home-grown artists,” Smith said.

▪ Of course, there will be traditional fair food favorites, like Fiske fries and foot-long corn dogs and fried stuff. But there will be some new fair food, too, including the Chili Mac Attack Sundae at DeAnna’s Concessions; Daley’s Double Dog Corndog; Bop’s Kettle Corn in the Heritage Village; and the Poppin Gourmet Burger at Carousel Food. And, there will be a birthday cake, and what more appropriate cake can there be for the S.C. State Fair than a special Birthday Cake Funnel Cake?

Organized in 1869, the State Fair continues to keep its agricultural roots alive while offering fun, food, education and a variety of competitive exhibits.

This year’s 150th anniversary State Fair is themed “Prize-Winning Memories” and will complement a long list of traditional favorites with several special offerings:

▪ The United States Postal Service is offering a special pictorial cancellation stamp. The USPS will be selling these stamped envelopes at the Main Street Entertainment and Food Court from 4 to 8 p.m. Friday, Oct. 11 and from noon to 6 p.m., Wednesday, Oct. 16. The stamps will also be available at the new General Store located near the South Gate Information Center during regular hours.

▪ A published history of the fair has been released in the new book, “Meet Me at the Rocket” by historian Rodger Stroup and will be sold during the fair in the Cantey Building (The book is already trending as a go-to holiday gift in South Carolina). A display of interesting fair memorabilia will also be found in the Cantey Building.

▪ A S.C. State Fair “Prize-Winning Memories” wall in the Ellison Building where guests can share their favorite fair memories. Submit photos to be displayed on the wall via email to favoritememory@scstatefair.org.

▪ Guests are invited to enjoy 150th anniversary cake as the gates open Oct. 9, while supplies last near the South Gate entrance, compliments of Sam’s Club.

▪ Originally erected in 1969, the iconic Rocket will be decorated as a birthday candle in celebration of its 50th birthday, and around 5:45 p.m. each afternoon visitors are encouraged to wish the iconic piece of art a happy birthday and watch it light up.

▪ This year’s Sandscapes features a 150th anniversary-themed display as the talented sand artists transform 75 tons of sand into a creative anniversary wonder — featured daily in the Goodman Building.

▪ A special exhibit on “The Food We Celebrate” will be presented by the S.C. State Museum and The S.C. Humanities Council in the Ellison Building.

▪ Brookgreen Gardens, the country’s largest and most comprehensive collection of American figurative sculpture, has curated a selection of sculptural on display in the Cantey Building.

▪ The South Carolina Art Commission’s State Art Collection, showcasing both the quality and diversity of the state’s cultural heritage, will feature selected artists in a special exhibition at the S.C. State Fair. Follow #artinsight to see and share experiences from this exhibit in the Rosewoods building.

▪ Jim Hudson Automotive and the SC State Fair will honor veterans at 5:30 p.m. each day during a “Veteran of the Day” ceremony.

The S.C. State Fair hopes the mix of new attractions with the traditional favorites will make the 150th fair an enjoyable one.

“We are so grateful for 150 years of support from our community, and we want the whole state to come and celebrate with us,” Smith says. “Our team has been working nonstop with local, national and international partners to make this year’s event the most memorable in our history. We have a lot of very special attractions, entertainment and exhibits lined up to celebrate a very special birthday, so this is a year that you will not want to miss.”

Tickets: Skip the lines and buy advance, discount tickets through Oct. 8 at participating Circle K stores, at the State Fair’s North Gate on Rosewood Drive, via FRED the roving ticket booth, or online at http://www.scstatefair.org/

Through Oct. 8, at any of the above locations, advance admission tickets are $7 for ages 6-54. Tickets cost $10 during the S.C. State Fair. Children 5 years old or younger receive free admission, as do any active or retired military and their dependents with proper ID.

Tickets for adults 55 years old or older are $7 and are available at the fairgrounds. Discount ride vouchers may be purchased through Oct. 8 for $25. During the fair, vouchers will cost $30 during the week and $35 on the weekends (Friday through Sunday, on grounds).

For more information, including the schedule for concerts and other events, go to www.scstatefair.org

Lezlie Patterson, special to GoColumbia

If You Go

Where: South Carolina State Fair Grounds, 1200 Rosewood Drive, Columbia

When: Oct. 9-20

Hours: (Admission, rides in parenthesis)

Oct. 9 - Noon-10 p.m. (3-11 p.m.)

Oct. 10 - 11 a.m.-10 p.m. (noon-11 p.m.)

Oct. 11 - 11 a.m.-10 p.m. (noon-midnight)

Oct. 12 - 10 a.m.-10 p.m. (11 a.m.-midnight)

Oct. 13 - Noon-10 p.m. (noon-11 p.m.)

Oct. 14 - 11 a.m.-10 p.m. (noon-11 p.m.)

Oct. 15 - 10 a.m.-10 p.m. (noon-11 p.m.)

Oct. 16 - 10 a.m.-10 p.m. (noon-11 p.m.)

Oct. 17 - 10 a.m.-10 p.m. (noon-11 p.m.)

Oct. 18 - 11 a.m.-10 p.m. (noon-midnight)

Oct. 19 - 10 a.m.-10 p.m. (11 a.m.-midnight)

Oct. 20 - Noon-8 p.m. (noon-10 p.m.)