Celebrate Agriculture, Arts and Tradition at Free, Drive-Through S.C. State Fair

The first-ever free, Drive-Through S.C. State Fair is bringing the tradition of the State Fair to fairgoers in a new way in an effort to spread joy while staying safe during the COVID-19 pandemic!

“This year has been difficult for all of us, we hope that folks will experience some of the wide-eyed wonder that they come to the State Fair for each year.”

     – Nancy Smith

Guests will experience a snippet of the agriculture, arts, entertainment and food they look forward to each year while remaining in the safety of their vehicles. The event will take place on Tuesday, Oct. 20 and Wednesday, Oct. 21, 10 a.m. – 8p.m. Fair food will be available for purchase through a separate drive-through with extended dates, Tuesday, Oct. 20 – Saturday, Oct. 24, 10 a.m. – 8 p.m.

“This is our way of giving back to the community — this year has been difficult for all of us,” said General Manager Nancy Smith, who also serves as the current chair of the International Association of Fairs and Expositions (IAFE). “We hope that folks will experience some of the wide-eyed wonder that they come to the State Fair for each year.”

What to expect at the free, Drive-Through State Fair

With free admission, guests will drive through the fairgrounds to view unique attractions that represent some of the exhibits that have captivated audiences over the years. Enter at the North Gate on Rosewood Drive near the fair’s historic Rocket. The route is estimated to take 20 minutes once guests enter the gates. To ensure safety and control the flow of traffic, visitors will not be allowed to exit their vehicles.

(Forrest Clonts/SC State Fair)

Agriculture has always played a significant role in the S.C. State Fair, and this year’s event will be no different. Cattle, swine, goats, chickens, as well as draft mules and donkeys, will be visible from the car route. The S.C. Department of Agriculture will showcase farm equipment from throughout the years. Exhibits will display blue-ribbon produce and flowers and, in the home and craft division, quilts and specialty cakes.

Nostalgic exhibits will include the heritage village, an antique fire truck and memories from the popular CIRCUS at the Fair that debuted at the State Fair’s 150th anniversary in 2019. Additional fair favorites include artwork by the ‘Chicken Man’ himself, Ernest Lee, the sounds of the calliope, Thomas Humphries’ Fighting Stallions and Metal Band sculptures, the milking parlor and the famous Jupiter Rocket. And look out for samples of student and fine art. A special preview of the S.C. State Fair’s upcoming second annual “Carolina Lights” holiday light show will also delight guests along the ride.

Not only will the exhibits showcase traditional fair favorites, but the atmosphere will also return, including PA announcements, the playing of the national anthem at noon and the raising of the American flag.

“Our team is working hard to keep the traditions of the State Fair alive while prioritizing safety,” said Smith. “For over 150 years, South Carolinians have come together to celebrate our state’s agriculture, arts, history and more. This year’s celebration will look different, but will have all of the spirit and joy as years past.”

One exhibit will be a celebration of the State Fair’s Ride of Your Life Scholarship recipients. A 501c3 charity, the S.C. State Fair supports statewide education by awarding hundreds of thousands of dollars in scholarships annually to help students across South Carolina pursue their continued education at any public or private college, university or technical college in the state.

Follow along with exhibit details and a route map available online at scstatefair.org and via QR codes that will be accessible along the route. As you drive through the fair, enjoy a Spotify playlist of bands that have visited the S.C. State Fair over the years.

The public is invited to share their favorite fair moments by sending them to [email protected]. Submit yours and view the shared photos on scstatefair.org/memories.

Don’t miss corn dogs, cotton candy and more available for purchase Oct. 20-24

(Forrest Clonts/SC State Fair)

Guests will not want to miss the opportunity to indulge in their fair food favorites this year. In a twist on the restaurant drive-through concept, guests will be able to drive into the Lexington Medical Center Fair Park on the fairgrounds to purchase Fiske fries, funnel cakes and more. With an anticipated high demand, the fair food vendors have extended the dates to Oct. 20 – 24, 10 a.m. – 8 p.m.

Guests will enter Gate 6 on George Rogers Boulevard, then wind through the parking lot until they reach six separate lines for fair food, all of which will have the same offerings, in an effort to keep the lines moving quickly and efficiently. The following fair food will be available:

·       Fiske fries

·       Corn dogs

·       Sausage sandwiches

·       Turkey Legs

·       Funnel cakes

·       Elephant ears

·       Cotton candy

·       Candy apples

·       Caramel corn

·       Pepsi brand 20 oz. bottled drinks and water

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