It’s that time of year again.
The S.C. State Fair starts up again and will bring “homegrown fun” to Columbia until Oct. 21.
It’s the 149th year of the fair, and this year will bring even more excitement and fried food (though the two are not mutually exclusive).
“The variety — that’s one of the things we can really boast about,” fair spokesperson Bertram Rantin said.
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Here’s what you can look forward to at the 2018 fair:.
It’s time to have some fun. These are new to the fair lineup of almost 70 rides:
- Frisbee: Fly 44 feet above the ground as this giant pendulum swings you and other riders back and forth.
- Wet Boats: This one’s for the kiddos, who can take an enjoyable boat ride along a water-filled path.
- Red Baron: Watch your children soar in miniature planes that rotate clockwise.
- Jumpin’ Jumbo: Spinning, floating elephants carry young riders up and around.
Ride vouchers: Get unlimited rides when you turn in your ride voucher at any ticket kiosk at the fairgrounds and get a pay-one-price or POP wristband in return. This deal is available every day of the fair.
Buy a ride voucher in advance (through Oct. 9) for $25, during the fair for $30 or for $35 on weekends.
Ride coupons: One for $1.25; 22 for $25; 55 for $60. Kiddie rides require two to three tickets. Other rides require four to six tickets.
Midway express access pass: Skip the ride lines with an express pass. $15.
You’ve worked up an appetite on the rides, so now it’s time to eat.
There will be more than 90 food stands on the fairgrounds, from classic items like elephant ears and corn dogs to new additions:
- Red beans & rice sundaes: Rice and red beans are mixed with chorizo, spices, sweet corn, tomatoes and sauteed onions and peppers, then topped with your choice of sirloin steak, Cajun shrimp, grilled chicken tenders or pulled pork.
- Frito chili pie burgers: A burger. Topped with chili. Topped with Fritos chips. Enough said.
- Maple cotton candy: A sweet, swirly, iconic fair item made with maple sugar.
- Apple dumplings: Like apple pie in a bite — red apple enveloped in a pie crust, baked and topped with vanilla ice cream and caramel cinnamon sauce.
The fair will also offer daily specials on food at participating vendors, since it runs at the same time as Columbia Restaurant Week, though the two are not affiliated.
The Lunch Bunch promotion will be available again this year to visitors who attend between noon and 2 p.m. on weekdays. Pay $10 cash at the gates, get a Lunch Bunch ticket and get a full $10 refund when you return your ticket by 2 p.m.
Some food vendors accept credit and debit cards, but some accept only cash, so come prepared or look for one of several ATMs available at the fairgrounds.
To dance and sing along to
Tickets for Grandstand shows are sold online at scstatefair.org and from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. until Oct. 9 at the fair’s Early Bird Ticket Window, 1200 Rosewood Drive.
Wristbands for free concerts will be handed out, and leftover tickets will be sold at the Pepsi-Grandstand box office 90 minutes before each performance.
- Tokyo Joe. Known for impressive and fun tribute shows. 7 p.m. Wednesday, Oct. 10. Free with admission and wristband
- Brett Michaels. ’80s rockstar, former Poison frontman. 7 p.m. Friday, Oct. 12. $15, includes admission
- La Poderosa Banda San Juan. Seventeen musicians and their version of soulful Mexican Sinaloan music. 7 p.m. Sunday, Oct. 14. Free with admission and wristband
- Trace Adkins. Country star and singer of “Honky Tonk Badonkadonk.” 7 p.m. Monday, Oct. 15. $20, includes admission
- Fantasia. “American Idol” winner and R&B singer. 7 p.m. Tuesday, Oct. 16. $20 (SOLD OUT)
- The Temptations and The Four Tops. Motown legends, grooving together. 7 p.m. Wednesday, Oct. 17. $15, includes admission
- Scotty McCreery. “American Idol” winner and Bojangles’ spokesman. 7 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 18. $15, includes admission
Jeremy Camp and Matthew West. Grammy-nominated Christian artists. 7 p.m. Friday, Oct. 19. $15, includes admission
Enjoy homegrown talent, too, with free performances by local musicians: contemporary bluegrass band Kristin Scott Benson & Friends, The Columbia Choral Society and blues artists Freddie Vanderford & Millbilly Three.
What more can I do?
Be swept off your feet by the mesmerizing art of broom making: John Holzwart of Little John’s Brooms will be creating handmade brooms in the Heritage Village, located in front of the Moore building. Brooms available for purchase.
Get befuddled at an illusion show: The Extreme Illusions and Escapes illusion show will feature Las Vegas-style stunts and escapes that will leave you questioning what is real. Performer Josh Knotts has traveled around the United States with his act and was awarded the Merlin Award (think Grammys or Oscars) in the art of magic in 2016. This show runs daily at the WLTX Stage.
Laugh the fried foods off: Comedy juggler Michael Goudeau has performed more than 13,000 shows, and now he’ll bring his talents to South Carolina. This show runs daily at the WLTX Stage.
Climb aboard a musical time machine: Musical duo Time Pirates will perform covers of songs from the 1950s through the present at its daily show at the Netterfield Stage.
Kick it country style: America’s Country Darlins, two sisters and a daughter, bring a variety of instruments to really get down. Watch them play anything from traditional country to bluegrass, gospel and old school rock ‘n roll. Find the trio roaming the fairgrounds daily.
Be convinced it’s all in the genes: Siblings Collin, Adrienne and Benny have toured their country/rock band Renata full time for the past eight years — they’re serious business. Jam out with them Oct. 10-15 at the WIS Stage.
Sit front row at off-off-off-off-Broadway: “Beautiful: The Carole King Musical” won’t open in Columbia until April, but that doesn’t mean you have to wait until Spring to hear King’s classic hits paired with Broadway vocals. Catch this performance by an actor from the national tour at 6 p.m. Oct. 19 at the WLTX Stage.
Take a safari without leaving Columbia: Eudora Farms’ Mark and Kim Nisbet bring exotic animals from around the world to the fairgrounds. Get up close with antelopes, zebras and more at the daily exhibit on Academic Avenue.
Spice up your dance moves: Love of Dance/Taino Dance Company will bring salsa and bachata to the WLTX Stage at 6and 8 p.m. on Oct. 13.
Find a full list of all attractions at scstatefair.org/attractions
Wednesday, Oct. 10: noon to 10 p.m.
Thursday, Oct. 11: 11 a.m. to 10 p.m.
Friday, Oct. 12: 11 a.m. to 10 p.m.
Saturday, Oct. 13: 10 a.m. to 10 p.m.
Sunday, Oct. 14: noon to 10 p.m.
Monday, Oct. 15: 11 a.m. to 10 p.m.
Tuesday, Oct. 16: 10 a.m. to 10 p.m.
Wednesday, Oct. 17: 10 a.m. to 10 p.m.
Thursday, Oct. 18: 10 a.m. to 10 p.m.
Friday, Oct. 19: 11 a.m. to 10 p.m.
Saturday, Oct. 20: 10 a.m. to 10 p.m.
Sunday, Oct. 21: noon to 8 p.m.
Rides may open and close later than these times. To see the full schedule, visit scstatefair.org/calendar
How much does it cost to get in?
- Advance admission (through Tuesday, Oct. 9): $7
- Seniors (55+): $7
- At the gates: $10
Parking is $5 per car at the fairgrounds, cash only.
Opening day on Wednesday is $1 day. Pay $1 in cash at the gate and gain access to the fairgrounds.
Want more ways to save? Here’s who can get in for free and when:
- Children under 5
- Active and retired military and their dependents (children 10 and older must have ID)
- Those with a valid S.C. Farm Bureau membership card (2 free admissions, Oct. 11 only)
- 4-H Alumni (with registration certificat, Oct. 11 only)
- Boy Scouts, Girl Scouts and scout leaders (wearing official gear, Oct. 13 only)
- American Heritage Girls (wearing membership pin, Oct. 13 only)
- Those wearing 2018 Palmetto Health Walk/Race For Life shirt (Oct. 13 and 14 only)
- All college students with ID (Oct. 15 only)
- Future Farmers of America members (students with cards, Oct. 16 only)
- “Exceptional Citizens”/Those with lifelong disabilities (Oct. 18 only)
- 4-H members (with membership card, Oct. 20 only)
Wait, where is the fair again?
The S.C. State Fairgrounds are located at 1200 Rosewood Drive, Columbia.
For more information on all things S.C. State Fair, visit scstatefair.org.