In an effort to give back to the community in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, the nonprofit South Carolina State Fair will host its first-ever free, Drive-Through S.C. State Fair on Tuesday, Oct. 20 and Wednesday, Oct. 21. Find details leading up to the event at www.scstatefair.org and follow @scstatefair on social media.
“In the midst of the worst global crisis of our lifetime, we wanted to give the community something positive to look forward to,” said General Manager Nancy Smith, who also serves as the current chair of the International Association of Fairs and Exhibitions (IAFE). “Our team is proud to offer a free event where families and friends can experience the joy of the State Fair in a safe and fun environment.”
Guests will enjoy free admission to drive through the fairgrounds and experience unique, car-friendly attractions that highlight South Carolina’s agriculture, history, arts and culture — all from the comfort and safety of their cars. Meanwhile, 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, and purchase their favorite fair foods.
“The Drive-Through State Fair is going to give folks a snippet of the fair they’ve known their entire lives,” said Smith. “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 will not be on the menu in 2020 due to safety precautions, the organization has devised a creative, family-friendly way to experience the food, exhibits, crafts and animals for which the S.C. State Fair is known and loved — in a safe environment.
“As the state’s largest event, we have a responsibility to take care of our neighbors and protect those we love,” said Smith. “To prioritize community health and well-being, our team has spent countless hours developing the best and safest State Fair possible. Safety is always our number one concern, and it is clear to us that the State Fair must adapt to the challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic.”
The State Fair is dedicated to using its facilities and resources to support and serve the community. Earlier this year, the fairgrounds hosted S.C. DHEC and Kroger Health’s free COVID-19 testing and Richland County’s annual Richland Recycles collection day. Historically, a wide variety of community service functions have been provided by the fair’s facilities during emergencies, and the State Fair team intends to continue this tradition.
“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,” said Smith. “I’d like to recognize our fellow fairs, here in South Carolina and across North America and beyond, that are also making difficult decisions to best serve their communities. Our state is SC Strong, and our fair community is Fair Strong.”
The best ride of all: While drive-through attractions are still being planned and fine-tuned, one key exhibit is certain: 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.
Submit your prize-winning memories: The public is encouraged to submit stories, photos and videos of their “Prize-Winning Memories” from S.C. State Fairs of the past. The State Fair will share these images on social media in October 2020 — and they might even be seen at the Drive-Through State Fair — to highlight the unforgettable moments that create the largest event in the state. Photos, quotes and videos are now being accepted via email at [email protected].
“We’ve been bringing folks together for 150 years, and we plan on being here to continue our beloved tradition for decades to come,” said Smith. “Thank you for standing by us now, and thank you for keeping the spirit alive as we bring your tradition — your South Carolina State Fair — to you in a new way this October. We’ll be back — better and stronger — in 2021.”
Next year’s S.C. State Fair will take place October 13-24, 2021.