The South Carolina State Fair Returns Stronger and Safer than Ever

S.C. State Fair will resume Oct. 13-24, bringing back popular family traditions, food, entertainment, and more

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(Columbia, S.C.) — The South Carolina State Fair returns stronger and safer this fall in Columbia, S.C., Oct. 13-24, 2021. After keeping its commitment to the community and adapting to a free, drive-through fair in 2020, the S.C. State Fair will once again welcome guests in person for 12 days of exhibits, competitions, food, rides, entertainment and the free, daily “CIRCUS at the Fair.” Fair officials are committed to following the latest COVID-19 health guidelines and ensuring a safe event for everyone.

“For more than 150 years, the South Carolina State Fair has brought families and friends together to create lifelong memories,” says S.C. State Fair General Manager Nancy Smith, who served as the 2020 chair of the International Association of Fairs and Exhibitions. “As always, safety is our top priority, and we’ve taken extra precautions this year, including increased health and safety measures and a new mandatory clear bag policy.”

2021 S.C. State Fair Highlights

With nearly 70 rides, this year’s S.C. State Fair is sure to create special moments — from sky-high thrillers to family-friendly fun, including two new kiddie rides, Dumbo and Tea Cup. A mix of stage and roving shows will entertain patrons, including various musical shows, dance groups, animal acts, magicians, jugglers, stunt artists and more. Back by popular demand is the free daily “CIRCUS at the Fair,” which will feature fresh new acts and a never-before-seen show. Traditional favorites also will return, including arts and crafts displays, agriculture, pig races, livestock exhibits and more.

With more than 90 food stands, guests will find everything ­— from innovative indulgences (fried cookie dough and donut burgers), to S.C. State Fair staples (Fiske fries and foot-long corn dogs), to lighter fare (the ultimate Greek salad) ­— luring all types of food lovers from across the state. A variety of new food items will also be introduced — as well as the expansion of the S.C. State Fair’s cookie kitchen. Warm cookies and cold milk await guests in the newly expanded cookie kitchen, now located in the Rosewoods Salon.

COVID-19 Health Precautions

The S.C. State Fair is closely following the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) latest recommendations and strategies to prevent and reduce the transmission of COVID-19 and maintain healthy business operations. This year, the S.C. State Fair will follow the latest CDC, state and local mask guidelines, have increased hand sanitation stations, offer limited contact payment options, provide increased cleaning protocols and display hygiene signage throughout the Fairgrounds.

“The health of our guests is of the upmost importance, and we ask that each guest does their part by following our latest event policies,” said Smith. “We strongly encourage all fairgoers to evaluate their own potential risk of exposure to COVID-19 before choosing to attend, knowing that vaccines remain the best protection from the virus.”

An inherent risk of exposure to COVID-19 exists in any public place where people are present, and the S.C. State Fair asks that fairgoers help protect themselves and others by following the event’s safety protocols — as well as state and local public health recommendations and mandates. Visit SCStateFair.org for the latest COVID-19 precautions and policies.

Safety is a Top Priority  

The S.C. State Fair is committed to providing a safe experience for its patrons. To ensure a safe and memorable event, the S.C. State Fair will have:

  • A large contingent of law enforcement on the grounds from open to close every day of the fair.
  • Updated metal detector technology.
  • A new mandatoryclear bag policy. This policy is similar to those implemented throughout Columbia, S.C., and across the country, complying with a new level of security expected of large, heavily-attended events and festivals. Visit SCStateFair.org to learn more about this new policy.
  • Additions to general grounds security.
  • Updated Youth Admission policy.

Visit SCStateFair.org to learn more about the S.C. State Fair’s safety rules and policies.

Call for Exhibition Competitors

“We are thrilled to bring people together from across the state and Southeast region to celebrate South Carolina’s rich history — while showcasing the best from local artisans and farmers alike,” says Smith. “Whether you’re a loyalist of classic fair offerings or you like to experience something new, like the ‘CIRCUS at the Fair,’ it’s your moment to find joy at this year’s S.C. State Fair.”

Each year, South Carolina’s finest agriculture, art, crafts, flowers and livestock are showcased at the S.C. State Fair. The call for entries is now open, and exhibition competitors are asked to submit their entries to be considered for this year’s S.C. State Fair by Sept. 1, 2021. Those wishing to compete can view the department Exhibit Guide and enter online at scstatefair.org/competitions.

Giving Back to the Community

The S.C. State Fair is a charitable organization dedicated to preserving and promoting South Carolina’s agricultural roots while supporting statewide education.

As a way to give back and ensure that the 2020 S.C. State Fair was there for the community, State Fair officials developed the first-ever Drive-Through S.C. State Fair. This free event was met with an enthusiastic reception — over the six-day period, more than 25,000 vehicles enjoyed this new twist on their S.C. State Fair. Additionally, the S.C. State Fair welcomed 15,500 cars to its Spring Fair Food Drive-Through, which was offered as a result of the success of the Drive-Through Fair Food event in October 2020.

In addition to offering a free Drive-Through State Fair in October 2020 and the Spring Fair Food Drive-Through in April 2021, the S.C. State Fair, a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization, continued to stay true to its commitment of giving back to the community and educating the state’s young adults. Highlights from the 2020-21 year include the following:

  • Awarded $300,000 in Ride of Your Life Scholarships to 50 South Carolina high school students to pursue their studies at any public or private college, university, or technical college in the state.
  • Donated the grounds to be used as a free COVID-19 testing site and location for distributing vaccines.
  • Continued to offer their grounds to the Salvation Army in December 2020 and hosted a job fair in conjunction with the South Carolina National Guard.

Discount admission and ride tickets go on sale Wednesday, Sept. 8 and will be available through Tuesday, Oct. 12. Purchase S.C. State Fair tickets a SCStateFair.org or stop by a participating Circle K to get your discount tickets. Visit SCStateFair.org for more information on ticket sales and general fair information.

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