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Sparkleberry Country Fair finished after 23-year run

Sparkleberry Country Fair 2017

The annual Sparkleberry Country Fair features rIdes, games, exhibits, live music and animal demonstrations. The festival, which runs April 28-30, 2017, is the biggest in northeast Richland County.
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The annual Sparkleberry Country Fair features rIdes, games, exhibits, live music and animal demonstrations. The festival, which runs April 28-30, 2017, is the biggest in northeast Richland County.

A 23-year tradition in Northeast Columbia has come to an end.

The board of the Sparkleberry Country Fair voted to discontinue the annual festival on April 8, according to a statement released by the the fair’s chariman, Bill McCracken.

The fair was held annually at Clemson’s Sandhill Research and Education Center near Clemson Road on the last Saturday of April since 1995. The event helped raise money for the Richland 2 school district, which funded grants for the district’s teachers and scholarships for high school students.

“We had a great run over the past 23 years,” said Fair Chairman Bill McCracken. “We raised over $900,000.00 for the Richland Two School District, made a lot of new friends, and had fun in the process.”

The cancellation comes after Clemson planned to expand its crop research efforts at the center, Dr. Katherine Coleman, director of the Sandhill Research and Education Center center, told The State last year.

“The goal of this research is to help South Carolina farmers increase production efficiency and decrease costs,” Coleman said. “While we recognize the importance of the fair as a community event ... we can no longer host such a large event out of concern for the research that is taking place on the grounds.”

In the fair board’s statement, the group said an extensive search for a new location was done and many possible locations were found. But none of those locations met the minimum requirements to safely operate the fair.

The class of 2019 scholarship recipients will be the last from the fair. Any remaining money in the Sparkleberry fair’s accounts will be donated to the district.

“The Sparkleberry Country Fair Board extends its gratitude to Clemson University and the Sandhills Recreation and Education Center for hosting the Fair during its 23-year run,” the statement said. “The board would also like to thank all the volunteers and community members who contributed to the success of the fair for so many years.”

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David Travis Bland won the South Carolina Press Association’s 2017 Judson Chapman Award for community journalism. As The State’s crime, police and public safety reporter, he strives to inform communities about crimes that affect them and give deeper insight into victims, the accused and law enforcement. He studied history with a focus on the American South at the University of South Carolina.


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