COLUMBIA, S.C. — The first-ever free, Drive-Through S.C. State Fair was met with an enthusiastic reception on opening day Wednesday as 4,171 cars passed through the fair’s food lines while 2,102 cars made their way through the on-grounds drive-through exhibits.
In response to this year’s COVID-19 pandemic, fair officials developed the drive-through experience as a way to continue the 151-year State Fair tradition while ensuring that guests stayed safe.
“Safety has always been our first priority, and we are so thrilled to see how our patrons have embraced the changes while still showing tremendous support for the fair,” said S.C. State Fair general manager, Nancy Smith. “They were lined up before the 10 a.m. opening to get in.”
Guests to this year’s fair are being given a free snippet of the agriculture, arts, and entertainment they have come to expect with a drive-through experience through the fairgrounds, and they also can choose from a sampling of traditional fair foods on sale in a separate drive-through – all from the safety of their cars.
Despite the challenges of the pandemic, Smith said the outpouring of visitors is a validation of the S.C. State Fair’s significance to the surrounding community and the state.
“We estimate that we welcomed more than 10,000 guests in their cars today,” Smith said. “One man got here at 4:30 a.m. because he said he wanted to be the first person in line, and he rode through three times. We are so grateful for this type outpouring of guests, but this is just more evidence that this is the people’s fair. This has been a difficult year for everyone, but we wanted to give something back.”
The fair exhibit will be open 10 a.m.- 8 p.m. Wednesday, and the fair food drive-through will remain open 10 a.m. – 8 p.m. each day through Saturday, Oct. 24. Patrons can enter the free drive-through exhibit at the fair’s main gate off Rosewood Drive. Guests should enter the food lines at Gate 6 off George Rogers Boulevard.
–South Carolina State Fair