How to Make the Most of this Year’s South Carolina State Fair

October 6, 2021

The 152nd South Carolina State Fair returns Oct. 13-24, 2021, with a full lineup of traditional favorites and a variety of new rides, foods, entertainment and the return of the CIRCUS at the Fair and the Celebration Super Wheel. The S.C. State Fair is committed to bringing a safe 12-day event to the Midlands region and will follow the latest Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC), state and local COVID-19 guidelines. To learn more about how to make the most of your S.C. State Fair moments, visit SCStateFair.org and start planning your visit.

“We are thrilled to once again bring the tradition of the South Carolina State Fair to the Midlands and present an array of classic and new food and entertainment options — all while operating with our guests’ safety as our top priority,” says S.C. State Fair General Manager Nancy Smith, who served as the 2020 chair of the International Association of Fairs and Exhibitions. “Whether you’re coming to taste some of our state’s sweetest treats, experience our 60 rides, or visit with your favorite farm animals, it’s time to enjoy your moment at the South Carolina State Fair.” 

Skip the lines and buy advance, discount tickets

Skip the lines and save up to 50% by purchasing S.C. State Fair tickets in advance at SCStateFair.org or at participating Circle K locations now through Tuesday, Oct. 12. Discount admission tickets are $10 per person ($15-$20 during the fair) and discount ride vouchers are $25 per person ($33 -$38 during the fair). Purchase a Family Fun Pack, available only at SCStateFair.org for a limited time, Sept. 8 to Oct. 19. Fun Packs include four admission tickets, two ride vouchers and one car entry pass to Carolina Lights in December 2021. Buy now and save big, as the Fun Packs are a $176 value for only $105.

From corn dogs and blue-ribbon roses to roller coasters and prize-winning pigs, the S.C. State Fair offers special moments for everyone. Here’s how to make the most of this year’s S.C. State Fair.

Taste some of our state’s most delicious and unique food

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. Guests can enjoy a variety of new food options this year, including the “Steak N Eggs Sundae” from DeAnna’s Food Concessions, seafood delights from Atlantic Seafood, a deep fried lava cake from Carousel Foods, roasted corn from the Meatball Factory Deli, and caramel apple cinnamon rolls from Grandma Brown’s Cinnamon Rolls. Plus, warm cookies and milk await guests in the expanded cookie kitchen, now located in the Rosewoods Salon. Visit SCStateFair.org to learn more.

Enjoy new and classic rides

With 60 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. DUMBO sends kids spinning in delight high into the air. The brilliant colors on DUMBO — accompanied by bright lights and lively parrots – are sure to make this new family ride a fan favorite. Tea Cup is composed of a turntable, inside of which are four smaller turntables with six cups. Passengers can manually rotate the cups via a central steering wheel.

Experience a diverse and unique lineup of entertainment

  • CIRCUS at the Fair: The free, daily CIRCUS at the Fair is returning for a second year and will feature a brand-new larger tent, fresh new acts and a never-before-seen show. Get ready for the thrills under the new big top. Led by Ringmaster Ian Garden, the CIRCUS acts will include performances from Urias Globe of Death, Surnina Sisters, Joseph Bauer Wheel of Destiny, Duo Petrov Juggling, The Upside Down Man and Adam Kutchler (the clown). Visit org to learn more.
    • The CIRCUS will perform three 40 minute-long shows each day beside the Ellison Building near the South Gate Entrance. Shows begin at 2 p.m., 4:30 p.m. and 7:30 p.m. Daily admission to the CIRCUS is free with your fair admission ticket. Each show features a variety of new, exciting entertainment from a renowned lineup of traditional and unique circus acts.
  • Celebration Super Wheel: The popular Celebration Super Wheel will return — towering above the midway at a breathtaking 150 feet. This Rolls Royce of Ferris wheels features 36 climate-controlled gondolas, each seating four to six guests, that provide luxurious and smooth rides coupled with unparalleled views of the fairgrounds and Columbia. The spectacular LED light design at night can be seen for miles across the Columbia landscape. The Celebration Super Wheel is $12 per ride and $20 for the once-in-a-lifetime chance to ride the VIP gondola (Cost not part of the POP wristband).
  • Music: Music has always been important to the S.C. State Fair and their fans alike. Enjoy musical performances on your schedule from Diamonds & Whiskey, Bombshell, Renata the Band, Geru Y Su Legion 7, Dennis Lee Band, Thistle & Lace, Carl Brunson, Swingin’ Medallions and more.
  • Heritage Village: Fair visitors can experience the wonders of yesteryear in the Heritage Village where a multi-dimensional display of entertainment, crafts, bowl turning and pottery from years gone by will be on display. This year’s display features a glass blower and the educational — yet immersive — experience is sure to leave an impression on family members of all ages.
  • Stage and Roving Shows: The S.C. State Fair will feature a mix of stage and roving shows, including various musical shows, dance groups, animal acts, magicians, jugglers, stunt artists and other entertainers. Daily shows include: The Robocars: Changing from Cars to Robots, The Strolling Piano and the Amazing Giants. You can catch these acts daily roving the grounds.

Experience South Carolina’s natural beauty

The beauty of art and flowers will return to this year’s flower show. The flower arrangements will be dispersed among a wide range of artworks throughout the Cantey building. In addition to Potted Plant and Cut Horticulture competitions, several flower shows will be held in the Cantey building at the S.C. State Fair, including the Ikebana International Chapter #182, the Garden Club Council of Greater Columbia, Mid-Carolina Camellia Society and the South Carolina Rose Society.

Explore the works of some of the state’s most talented artists

Patrons can enjoy a leisurely stroll through the Fine Art Department in the Cantey Building as they view the works of some of the state’s best amateur, professional and student artists. Featured categories include ceramics, pottery, aqua painting, oil painting, drawing, mixed media, prints, photography, digital photography, open media and sculpture.

Discover South Carolina’s agricultural roots

The S.C. State Fair is rooted in agriculture. South Carolina residents will compete for bragging rights and a blue ribbon with their home-grown produce, including apples, home garden wagons, large pumpkins and watermelons, Christmas trees, a shoe garden, sugar cane, sweet potatoes and more. There will even be a scarecrow making contest. Visit with the South Carolina Beekeepers, Clemson Extension and 4H, and stop by the produce stand to purchase South Carolina grown produce.

Visit with live farm animals

Visit with live farm animals, including swine, sheep, rabbits, horses and more. Watch a Donkey & Mule Show, experience a Border Collie Exhibition and get up close and meet members of the Commerford Petting Zoo, a family-owned and operated petting zoo featuring domestic animals and hand-raised exotic animals.

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. Visit SCStateFair.org for the latest COVID-19 precautions and policies.

Safety is a top priority — new clear bag policy

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 mandatory clear 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 org to learn more about this new policy.
  • Additions to general grounds security.
  • Updated Youth Admission policy

Visit SCStateFair.org for a daily schedule of activities. Purchase discounted S.C. State Fair tickets at SCStateFair.org or a participating Circle K stores through Tuesday, Oct. 12.

About the South Carolina State Fair

The South Carolina State Fair, a self-supporting 501(c)3 nonprofit organization, was organized in 1869 and is dedicated to preserving and promoting South Carolina’s agricultural roots while supporting statewide education. In addition to the 12-day South Carolina State Fair, the charitable organization manages annual football parking, is a popular event venue and hosts Carolina Lights — Columbia’s downtown drive-through lights show. The South Carolina State Fair has awarded more than $4 million in scholarships since 1997.