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Step right up: SC State Fair adds special attraction in 2019 for 150th anniversary

How the SC State Fair will make room for new circus attraction

The S.C. State Fair in 2019 will showcase a daily “Circus at the Fair” featuring colorful shows under a 1,300-seat big top with live performances. State Fair General Manager Nancy Smith explains how it's being made possible.
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The S.C. State Fair in 2019 will showcase a daily “Circus at the Fair” featuring colorful shows under a 1,300-seat big top with live performances. State Fair General Manager Nancy Smith explains how it's being made possible.

The South Carolina State Fair announced Wednesday it is adding a daily big top circus to this year’s fair, which will commemorate its 150th anniversary.

The fair will run Oct. 9-20 and will feature three live circus performances daily, which will be free with fair admission. Each hour-long show will seat up to 1,300 guests from a lineup of traditional and unique circus acts of all ages.

A new white, red and green big top tent, from the Italian Bellucci Circus, will host the circus in its first season playing dates on this continent. The tent will be located near the South Gate Entrance between the Ellison building and the Midway rides.

The circus will be hosted by ringmaster Ian Garden. Several motorcyclists will perform loops at high speeds within a steel Globe of Death. The Pompeyo family, semifinalists on Season 12 of America’s Got Talent, will train rescue pups to perform tricks and jumps in costumes.

Other features of the circus will include a performing troupe mastering a Korean-style teeterboard, a Colombian high-wire troupe balancing while walking along a tensioned wire above the audience, show camels and daredevils doing stunts on an exercise wheel.

“There will be something for everyone during this historic 150th anniversary fair, with our usual backdrop of great food, rides, educational displays and entertainment,” S.C. State Fair General Manager Nancy Smith said in a news release.

In addition to the circus, the iconic rocket on the fairgrounds is celebrating its 50th anniversary this year and will be decorated. There will also be free daily concerts in a new Pepsi Place 1,000-seat arena near the Nutt Cattle Arena, featuring local and regional artists.

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

Other features of this year’s fair will include artistic displays from Brookgreen Gardens, collectors’ items such as a limited-edition coin, and posters to celebrate the 150th anniversary and a book signing for author Rodger Stroup’s new book called, “Meet Me at the Rocket.” The book is about the history of the fair and will be published in September 2019.

A memory wall displaying guest-submitted images and quotes and an expanded Heritage Village with cultural exhibits will also be included.

The fair says there will be no ticket price increases for this year’s event as a benefit to attendees and in celebration of the 150th anniversary.

“Every county across the state will be represented in the various exhibits, displays and competitive events this year,” Smith said. “We are very excited to mark this historic occasion as we look back on the past century and a half, celebrate the present and look to the future.”

The S.C. State Fair was organized in 1869 and now welcomes more than 400,000 visitors each year and continues to celebrate its agricultural roots with entertainment, rides, food, competitive exhibits and educational activities while establishing itself as the state’s largest event.

Sights and sounds from opening day of the South Carolina State Fair Wednesday Oct. 10, 2018, in Columbia, SC.

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