State Fair

Attendance drops at SC State Fair, which completes 2017 run and Goodman’s tenure

Scenes from the South Carolina State Fair

A quick look at some of the things to do and see at this year's South Carolina State Fair.
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A quick look at some of the things to do and see at this year's South Carolina State Fair.

The 2017 South Carolina State Fair wrapped up Sunday night, completing its 148th run.

During this year’s 12-day run, 427,466 visitors came to the fair. That number marks a decline in attendance, falling from last year’s figure of 464,878 visitors, which was one of the most popular in fair history.

In fact, this year’s attendance total was lower than the amount of people who turned out to the fair in 2015, when Columbia was affected by historic flooding.

In spite of that decline, there was a rationale from State Fair manager Gary Goodman, who is retiring this year after 33 years in that role.

“We had a great run,” Goodman said in a news release.

Goodman said this year’s attendance took an early hit because of hot weather. He noted the attendance numbers improved once cooler temperatures moved in the first weekend.

In fact, the second Saturday of the fair drew 61,484 guests, marking the highest attendance ever for a second Saturday.

Attendance might have also been hurt after ZZ Top canceled their performance. The veteran rock group was scheduled to be one of the headline musical acts at this year’s fair.

“We appreciate everyone coming out,” Goodman said. “The most important thing is there were no serious injuries, which is always the mark of a solid fair.”

This year’s State Fair presented a wide range of new attractions including Heritage Village, Folkfabulous and Blend along with a long list of stage and roving shows. The fair also offered its pay-one-price promotion all 12 days for the second straight year.

“Our goal is always to include a fresh mix of new attractions, while bringing back many of our traditional favorites that our patrons have come to love and expect through the years,” State Fair assistant manager Nancy Smith said in a news release. “And we feel they were well received.”

In honor of Goodman’s retirement and his 33 years as general manager, North American Midway Entertainment donated $10,000 to the fair’s Ride of Your Life Scholarship fund.

“We know how important education is to Gary and the fair board,” North American Midway chairman Jeff Blomsness said in a news release. “Because we have been here so long, we had a good idea of what the No. 1 goal is of the fair, so we picked that, and it made us very happy to do it.”

Smith, who will become the fair’s general manager in January, said she hopes to continue modeling Goodman’s legacy of excellency in producing a fair the state can be proud of each year.

“We look forward to building more relationships and continuing to foster efforts to improve our community in the coming years,” she said.

The 2018 S.C. State Fair will run Oct. 10-21 in Columbia.

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