COLUMBIA – October 23, 2016 – An expanded ride promotion, record football Saturday attendance and ideal weather lead to a banner year for the 147th South Carolina State Fair which welcomed 464,878 visitors before the gates closed for the year Sunday night.
The 2016 attendance figures marked an increase of 34,931 over last year’s fair, which followed after last October’s historic floods in the state.
“We were thrilled to see so many returning faces and lots of news ones and we couldn’t be happier with this year’s results ” said General Manager Gary Goodman. “It was clear that folks were looking for a good time and were eager to rebound after last year’s challenges.”
Goodman credits the increase in large part to the expansion of the fair’s pay-one-price promotion to all 12 days this year. Previously that promotion has only been offered on weekdays.
“I think the pay-one-price days had a significant influence,” Goodman said, noting many families are only able to come to the fair on weekends.
And while the 2016 fair fell short of an overall attendance record, it set two individual records for one day. The second Saturday of the fair drew 60,887 guests, the highest for a second Saturday ever. Additionally, it was the fair’s highest second Saturday attendance on the same day as a University of South Carolina home football game, when fair attendance generally falls several thousand guests below a normal Saturday.
“That was an anomaly,” Goodman said regarding Saturday’s attendance.
Football fans were granted free admission to the fair with their game tickets before kickoff and the crowds kept pouring in throughout the day. “When the game was over, the fans from the game just kept coming,” Goodman said.
This year’s State Fair presented a wide range of new attractions including Kenya Safari Acrobats and the King BMX Stunt Show along with a long list of stage and roving shows. Three of the fair’s five musical grandstand acts had capacity or near capacity crowds.
“Our goal is always to include a fresh mix of new attractions, while bringing back many of our traditional favorites that our patrons have come to love and expect through the years,” said State Fair assistant manager Nancy Smith. “And we feel they were well received.”
Goodman points to Columbia’s sense of community as a big factor in the State Fair’s success this year. “We look forward to building more relationships and continuing to foster efforts to improve our community in coming years.