S.C. State Fair to transform into free drive-through


Two twists have been announced for this year's South Carolina State Fair.

In an effort to give back to the community in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, the nonprofit fair will be free this year when it runs Oct. 20-21. In an effort to maintain social distancing, it will also be a drive-through event.

Guests will be able to drive around the fairgrounds and experience car-friendly attractions that highlight the state's agriculture, history, arts and culture. Meanwhile, in another adaption, guests will be able to drive into the Lexington Medical Center Fair Park on the fairgrounds and purchase their favorite fair foods.

General Manager Nancy Smith, who also serves as the current chair of the International Association of Fairs and Exhibitions, said the event team wanted to give the community something positive to look forward to in the "midst of the worst global crisis of our lifetime."

"The Drive-Through State Fair is going to give folks a snippet of the fair they've known their entire lives," Smith said. "It will certainly look different, but we look forward to sharing this gift with the community. It will truly be a year like no other."

While rides are off the menu in 2020, the organization has devised a pandemic-friendly way to experience the food, exhibits, crafts and animals for which the fair is known for promoting at the state's largest event.

Scholarships, community support a continued focus

Fairground facilities and resources have been used to support the community already through the pandemic by hosting free COVID-19 testing and Richland County's annual Richland Recycles collection day.

"As a 501c3 nonprofit organization ourselves, we exist to serve the community, and we understand the toll that the coronavirus is taking on family farms, concessionaires, exhibitors, small businesses, community groups and countless others," Smith said.

Drive-through attractions are still being planned and fine tuned, but one key exhibit is certain: a celebration of the State Fair's Ride of Your Life Scholarship recipients. Hundreds of thousands of dollars are awarded annually to help students across the Palmetto State pursue their continued education at any public or private college, university or technical college in the state.

Submit your memories for a chance to be featured online and at the fair

Another part of the fair this year will be Prize-Winning Memories from the state fairs of years past. Submit stories, photos and videos for a chance for the fair to share the images on social media in October. They might even be seen at the event.

Memories should highlight unforgettable moments from previous state fairs. Send your photos, quotes and videos to favoritememory@scstatefair.org.

"We've been bringing folks together for 150 years, and we plan on being here to continue our beloved tradition for decades to come," Smith said.

Next year's S.C. State Fair is scheduled for Oct. 13-24, 2021.

Find details leading up to the event at www.scstatefair.org.