Celebrate agriculture, arts and tradition at free, drive-through State Fair this month


When we can feel the fall in the air, we all start thinking about fair food.

This year has been a challenge, but the S.C. State Fair is making sure we don't have to give up everything. Despite COVID-19, you can enjoy the sights, sounds and tastes of the fair. The first-ever free, Drive-Through S.C. State Fair will let guests enjoy a sampling 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 from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. Tuesday and Wednesday, Oct. 20 and 21.

Fair food will be available for purchase through a separate drive-through with extended dates of Tuesday-Saturday, Oct. 20-24, from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. 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, corn dogs, sausage sandwiches, turkey legs, funnel cakes, elephant ears, cotton candy, candy apples, caramel corn and Pepsi 20-ounce bottled drinks and water. 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.

"This is our way of giving back to the community - this year has been difficult for all of us," said S.C. State Fair General Manager Nancy Smith in a news release.

Guests will enter at the North Gate on Rosewood Drive (near the fair's historic Rocket) and drive through the fairgrounds to view attractions. The route is estimated to take 20 minutes once guests enter the gates. Visitors will not be allowed to exit their vehicles.

Agriculture has always played a large role in the fair, and this year is no different. Cattle, swine, goats, chickens, 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, and 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," Ernest Lee, the sounds of the calliope, Thomas Humphries' Fighting Stallions and Metal Band sculptures, the milking parlor and the Jupiter Rocket. Samples of student and fine art will also be displayed.

A special preview of the S.C. State Fair's upcoming second-annual "Carolina Lights" holiday light show will also be featured. The second-annual "Carolina Lights" drive-through lights show will take place Dec. 5-27 at the LMC Fair Park at the S.C. State Fairgrounds. Find details at www.scstatefair.org/carolina-lights.

Traditions have not been left out. The national anthem will be played at noon over the PA system, and the American flag will be raised.

"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 guests 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 favoritememory@scstatefair.org. Submit yours and view the shared photos at scstatefair.org/memories.

More information can be found at www.scstatefair.org, and follow @scstatefair on social media.