COLUMBIA, S.C. — It’s the South Carolina State Fair’s 150th birthday, and the award-winning organization — a nonprofit awarding $300,000 in scholarships per year across South Carolina — has pulled out all the stops to ensure that this year’s event, Oct. 9-20, will be brimming with prize-winning memories. There is no increase in ticket prices this year, even with a new free daily circus, a new free concert series featuring regional acts and a slew of 150th anniversary activities and exhibits.
Skip the lines and buy advance, discount tickets
Purchase discount tickets through Oct. 8 at participating Circle K stores, at the State Fair’s North Gate on Rosewood Drive, via FRED the roving ticket booth, or online at http://www.scstatefair.org/.
“We are so grateful for 150 years of support from our community, and we want the whole state to come and celebrate with us. Our team has been working nonstop with local, national and international partners to make this year’s event the most memorable in our history,” said Nancy Smith, S.C. State Fair General Manager. “We have a lot of very special attractions, entertainment and exhibits lined up to celebrate a very special birthday, so this is a year that you will not want to miss.”
$1 admission on opening day, Oct. 9
Admission on opening day, Oct. 9, is only $1 in cash, and guests pay at the gate upon arrival.
Free circus will “wow” guests three times each day
The circus is in town three times a day at the S.C. State Fair. The headlining entertainment at the 2019 S.C. State Fair is a free daily “CIRCUS at the Fair,” with three one hour-long shows each day under a 48-foot big top tent, crafted in Italy, beside the Ellison Building near the South Gate entrance. Shows begin at 2:30 p.m., 5 p.m. and 7:30 p.m. and are included with an admission ticket. Each show features a variety of stunning entertainment from a renowned lineup of traditional and unique circus acts including the High Wire, the Wheel of Destiny, the Globe of Death, the Trained Dog Show, Duo Silks aerialists, America’s Show Camels, and a dazzling international cast with Ringmaster Ian Garden. View details at https://www.scstatefair.org/entertainment/circus.
New 150 Celebration Wheel ride makes its American debut in South Carolina
Visitors will see lots of action under the big top tent, but what about high above it? North American Midway Entertainment is debuting, for the first time in North America, its “150 Celebration Wheel,” a 150-foot giant Ferris wheel. The ride includes 36 temperature-regulated gondolas, creating a lofty encounter that fairgoers can experience over and over again. Each gondola carries six people on a luxurious journey to new heights never seen before at the South Carolina State Fair.
The 150 Celebration wheel costs extra to ride, and it is not included in the Pay-One-Price wristband or fast pass promotion. Buy early and save on the cost of the 150 Celebration Wheel! Discount passes can be purchased online through Oct.r 8 at https://www.scstatefair.org/attractions/rides.
Special exhibits, collector’s items and more to celebrate the 150th anniversary
Organized in 1869, the State Fair continues to keep its agricultural roots alive while offering fun, food, education and a variety of competitive exhibits. This year’s 150th anniversary State Fair is themed “Prize-Winning Memories” and will complement a long list of traditional favorites with several special offerings:
- The United States Postal Service (USPS) is offering a special pictorial cancellation stamp. The USPS will be selling these stamped envelopes at the Main Street Entertainment and Food Court Friday, Oct. 11 from 4 – 8 p.m. and Wednesday, Oct. 16 from noon – 6 p.m. and the stamps will be available at the new General Store located near the South Gate Information Center during regular hours.
- A published history of the fair has been released in the new book, “Meet Me at the Rocket” by historian Rodger Stroup and will be sold during the fair in the Cantey Building (The book is already trending as a go-to holiday gift in South Carolina). A display of interesting fair memorabilia will also be found in the Cantey Building.
- A S.C. State Fair “Prize-Winning Memories” wall in the Ellison Building where guests can share their favorite fair memories. Submit photos to be displayed on the wall via email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
- Guests are invited to enjoy 150th anniversary cake as the gates open Oct. 9, while supplies last near the South Gate entrance, compliments of Sam’s Club.
- Originally erected in 1969, the iconic Rocket will be decorated as a birthday candle in celebration of its 50th birthday, and around 5:45 p.m. each afternoon visitors are encouraged to wish the iconic piece of art a happy birthday and watch it light up.
- This year’s Sandscapes features a 150th anniversary-themed display as the talented sand artists transform 75 tons of sand into a creative anniversary wonder — featured daily in the Goodman Building.
- A special exhibit on “The Food We Celebrate” will be presented by the S.C. State Museum and The S.C. Humanities Council in the Ellison Building.
- Brookgreen Gardens, the country’s largest and most comprehensive collection of American figurative sculpture, has curated a selection of sculptural on display in the Cantey Building.
- The South Carolina Art Commission’s State Art Collection, showcasing both the quality and diversity of the state’s cultural heritage, will feature selected artists in a special exhibition at the S.C. State Fair. Follow #artinsight to see and share experiences from this exhibit in the Rosewoods building.
- Jim Hudson Automotive and the SC State Fair will honor veterans at 5:30 p.m. each day during a “Veteran of the Day” ceremony.
Free concerts at the Pepsi Place stage and more
New this year, free concerts featuring a wide variety of genres will be held on stages throughout the fairgrounds, with popular acts on the Pepsi Place stage including The Tams, The Restoration, The Latin Caravan, Tokyo Joe, JJ Hairston, Reggie Sullivan, Eloveation, Swim in the Wild and more. View the full lineup at https://www.scstatefair.org/entertainment.
New fair foods: eat this plus that
With more than 90 food stands, guests can populate their palates with a plethora of creative concoctions like fried cookie dough and donut burgers to State Fair staples like Fiske fries and foot-long corn dogs. There are also some new eating options including the Chili Mac Attack Sundae at DeAnna’s Concessions; Daley’s Double Dog Corndog; Bop’s Kettle Corn in the Heritage Village; the Poppin Gourmet Burger at Carousel Foods; and a special Birthday Cake Funnel Cake in honor of the S.C. State Fair’s 150th anniversary. Find more food details here: https://www.scstatefair.org/attractions/food.
Liven up your lunch break with the S.C. State Fair’s popular Lunch Bunch promotion
Pop in and out of the S.C. State Fair for lunch with a special Lunch Bunch ticket, available each weekday (except Oct. 9, when admission is just $1 all day) from 12-2 p.m. Visitors pay the $10 entry fee with cash only and return to the ticket booth by 2 p.m. to get the cash back. No debit or credit cards will be accepted for this promotion.
New rides you don’t want to miss at the State Fair
In addition to the new “150 Celebration Wheel,” there are more than 70 rides at this year’s State Fair from North American Midway Entertainment, featuring sky-high thrillers, family-friendly fun rides and seven new spins, including the Star Dancer, a spectacular claw that swings 360 degrees; the Double-Decker Merry-Go-Round, a stunning menagerie of zebras, elephants, rabbits and some spinning bowls for the fearless; Morbid Mansion, filled with frights and creepy corners; Twister, dual-motion cars on an elevating platform; Flivver, a fun, leisurely ride on winding tracks; Love Bug, a gentler, kid-friendly version of the Himalaya; and the Red Baron, in which riders will squeal in delight as they go up and down, pretending to fly. Learn more here: https://www.scstatefair.org/attractions/rides.
Other ticketing details and discounts
Discount ride vouchers and admission tickets may be purchased through Oct. 8 at participating Circle K Stores and at the State Fair’s early bird ticket window, open weekdays from 10 a.m. – 4 p.m. at the North Gate on Rosewood Drive. Additionally, South Carolina State Fair’s roving ticket booth, FRED, will be at dozens of locations until Oct. 8. Find FRED’s schedule at http://www.findfred.org.
Through Oct. 8, at any of the above locations, advance admission tickets are $7 for ages 6-54. Tickets are $10 during the S.C. State Fair. Children 5 years old or younger receive free admission, as do any active or retired military and their dependents with proper ID. Tickets for adults 55 years old or older are $7 and are available at the fairgrounds. Discount ride vouchers may be purchased through Oct. 8 for $25. During the fair, vouchers will cost $30 during the week and $35 on the weekends (Friday – Sunday, ongrounds).
“Our goal every year is to create a family-friendly experience at a family-friendly price,” said Smith. “As we celebrate 150 years, the best possible birthday present will be to have people from all of our diverse communities across South Carolina come through those gates and make even more prize-winning memories.”
Follow @SCStateFair on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter, and plan your #SCStateFair — scheduled for Oct. 9-20 — online at http://www.scstatefair.org/.
–Bertram Rantin, S.C. State Fair