It's about to be one of our family's favorite times of year -- State Fair time.
The South Carolina State Fair
started this week and runs through Oct. 23 in Columbia
, offering families a day of rides, food, attractions, musical entertainment, live animal shows, prizes -- and plenty of fun.
We actually live close enough to walk to the fair, so we've been watching the progress of the rides being assembled at the fairgrounds, which are just across the street from Williams-Brice Stadium, the home of the Gamecocks
. Most years our kids climb the hill back to our house hauling a giant stuffed animal or a basketball won at a Midway game. We can't wait to see what this year brings.
This year's slogan for the fair is "Find Your Happy," so here is a look at just a few of the things that might help you find your family's happy at the fair.
Ride all day
. Have a kid who can't get enough of the rides? The pay-one-price wristband is probably your best way to go. It's $20 in advance of the fair's opening; $25 if you purchase it at the fair. It's good for riding as much asyou like on weekdays. Another option: Saturday mornings, from 9 a.m. until 1 p.m., two can ride for the price of one.
Hit the beach.
OK, the fair is a couple hours away from the ocean, but there will be 150,000 pounds of sand in the Ellison Building. Some of the world's best sand sculpting artisans will take the damp sand and mold it to look like the State Capital building (in honor of Columbia's 225th birthday). Anybody who has ever put together a sandcastle with buckets at the shovels will want to watch these artists at work. And you'll want to check back a few times to watch it take shape.
Where is that band?
And what kind of music is that? Is it a guitar? A drum? Actually, it's Bandolini, the one-man-band who wanders through the fairgrounds playing classic tunes. Keep an ear out for him Oct. 12-23. While you're listening for Bandolini, don't forget to keep an eye out for Zakari the Stilt Walker (he's hard to miss). The 10-foot tall master stilt walker will be at the fair Oct. 17-23. This year, one of his costumes pays tribute to a S.C. State Fair favorite -- the corn dog
Animals, animals, animals. The fair brings people from farms all over South Carolina to Columbia, showing their prize cows and horses and birds. It also offers a chance for kids to see some more exotic animals. Commerford and Sons Petting Zoo is back at the fair this year, and it features animals including camels, llamas and elephants. You might even get a chance to climb atop one.
Vrooooooooom. If you have a NASCAR fan you'll want to check out NASCAR Night
, from 7-9 p.m. Oct. 19. Drivers including James Hylton, Cole Whitt, Terry Labonte, Bobby Labonte, Jordan Anderson, Jeremy Clements will meet with fans. Hylton, Whitt and Clements will also have their vehicles on exhibit.
And don't even get us started about our favorite fair foods...