SC State Fair kicks off 2021 swing with lowest opening day attendance since 2018

·2 min read

The kick off day of the South Carolina State Fair saw it lowest attendance since 2018, according to a statement from fair officials.

Less than 22,300 fairgoers attended the opening day of the State Fair, marking the event’s return after having to switch to a drive-thru format in 2020 due to COVID-19.

This year’s opening day numbers show about 17,000 fewer patrons attending than the last full fair kick off in 2019. The only recent year with lower attendance was the first day of the 2018 fair, which saw only about 19,300 visitors as South Carolina prepared for an incoming tropical storm.

“It was exciting to see our patrons return to what has become a tradition for so many families in our state,” S.C. State Fair general manager Nancy Smith said in a statement. “We are committed to doing everything possible to make this, as always, a safe and enjoyable fair.”

The fair will continue to run every day until Oct. 24. Tickets can be purchased in advance online or at a Circkle K for $15 or at the gates for $20. Seniors 55 and older can get a discounted $15 ticket, and children under the age of six can get in for free.

This year’s fair features a free, daily circus, with 40-minute shows starting at 2 p.m., 4:30 p.m. and 7:30 p.m. The attraction will be situated beside the Ellison building near the South gate entrance.

The fair has also implemented some COVID-19 and physical safety policies, like a clear bag policy.

Fairgoers will also be required to wear masks while at the event due to the city of Columbia’s mask mandate. Those in violation of the mandate could be punished by city officials with a fine of up to $100.

Attendees will also be encouraged to social distance while waiting in lines, checking out exhibits, watching shows and enjoying food and drinks. Fair officials will also place hand sanitizing stations across the grounds, as well as increase cleaning protocols.

“Our fair has such a rich history in this state, and we want to showcase what it has meant to so many people for so many years,” Smith said. “We look forward to having our state residents join us over the next 12 days to safely celebrate the best of South Carolina.”

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