It’s a tradition every fall.
The South Carolina State Fair opened for its 146th year on Wednesday. The annual event is expected to draw a half-million people to the recently-renovated fairgrounds just outside Columbia between October 14-25.
Admission is $1 for opening day on Wednesday. It will be $10 per ticket the rest of the fair’s run. Children under 12 will get free admission, as will active and retired military members and their dependents.
Fair spokeswoman Stephanie Owens said the ongoing boil water advisory in the city will have a minor impact. For example, vendors will not be able to use tap water. “Most of our beverages are bottled,” she said. “But, for lemonade and other things and cleaning cooking equipment, the fair has brought in a mass order of bottled water that we’re distributing to the vendors so they’ll have clean water.”
The advisory also means visitors will not be able to use the water fountains inside the exhibit buildings. Owens said fair organizers also plan to donate the money it receives from a $5 parking fee towards flood recovery efforts.
A $6 million renovation of the State Fairgrounds has just finished, creating more space for exhibits and moving an entrance gate further away from Rosewood Drive. Owens said the previous gate created a potential danger whenever entrance lines spilled out into the street. In addition to the new exhibit space, a grassy area will provide more room for families.
As for the delightfully bizarre new food this year, the offerings will include Frosted Flakes-encrusted chicken on a stick, a “Southern Belle” burger with pimento cheese and fried green tomato, bacon cinnamon rolls, and (perhaps the most unusual) Sriracha Fire & Ice Kremes — soft-serve ice cream sundae served with sriracha hot sauce and nacho flakes.
Visitors can also get unlimited rides with a $28 ride voucher pass on Monday through Friday.