The South Carolina State Fair is best known for bringing 12 days of exhibits, competitions, food, midway rides and entertainment to Columbia each fall. But the charitable organization’s reach into and impact on the community extends throughout the year.
Supporting statewide education has remained at the heart of the South Carolina State Fair’s mission. In 1997, the fair launched its Ride of Your Life Scholarship program and annually awards $500,000 in scholarships to South Carolina high school seniors planning to pursue their college studies in the state. The scholarships are currently $10,000 each and are awarded at $2,500 annually. The South Carolina State Fair has given more than $5 million in scholarships since the start, in thanks to the generosity of their ticketing partner, Circle K stores, who has contributed $50,000 towards the Ride of Your Life program. Find more information on the Ride of Your Life scholarship here.
Since its founding, the South Carolina State Fair has been an important economic contributor to the local economy, welcoming nearly 400,000 people from across the state and the Southeast region annually. The S.C. State Fair is an engine for more than $16.6 million in wages and total economic impact of more than $45.5 million.
Special gate promotions
The South Carolina State Fair annually offers several free promotional entry days during the annual fair. All children 5 years old and younger are admitted free each day of the fair. Additionally, the fair hosts three Military Appreciation days when active and retired military and their dependents are admitted to the fair free. Other free gate promotions include the 2023 Walk for Life and Famously Hot Pink Walk/Race, Exceptional Citizens Day for persons with life-long developmental or physical disabilities (and one companion), Sensory Friendly morning, Physics Day for statewide high school students, Future Farmers of America Day, 4-H Day, SC Farm Bureau Day, and the popular free Lunch Bunch admission special from noon to 2 p.m. each weekday of the fair.
The South Carolina State Fair impacts the community through its scholarship program, partnerships with non-profit and government organizations, and its six exhibit halls and 104 acres that are available for football parking and major event rentals throughout the year. In addition, the fair hosts an annual drive-through holiday lights show each December called “Carolina Lights”. In response to the challenges posed by COVID, the S.C. State Fair initiated a drive-through Spring fair food event which has remained popular and continues to grow.
Memories and Traditions
The South Carolina State Fair, going far beyond any other event in South Carolina, is a charitable organization promoting South Carolina’s roots and supporting the state of South Carolina. The fair offers a one-of-a-kind experience for 12 days in October with exhibits, competitions, food, rides, entertainment, a circus, agriculture, animals and much more. For 150+ years the S.C. State Fair has been creating memories and traditions that last a lifetime. Read stories that showcase the passion.
From Field to Fair
Since 1869, the mission of the South Carolina State Fair has been to promote the vital importance of agriculture in shaping South Carolina’s history and identity. Through captivating exhibits and spirited competitions, the S.C. State Fair showcases the very best that local artisans and farmers have to offer. By embracing agriculture in all its forms, the fair hopes to inspire a new generation to appreciate the timeless traditions that have shaped our state’s culture. The S.C. State fair serves as an educational platform, fostering an understanding of the significance of agriculture in our lives and the importance of sustainable practices for our future.