The South Carolina State Fair has arrived for a 12 day run in Columbia. Opening day was shadowed by an accident with one of the rides -according to media reports, several people received minor injuries which were treated at the Fair’s first aid station.
Comments to media articles about the accident show a wide range of emotions. Some people feel the rides aren’t properly inspected, some that only idiots would ride something put together so quickly. Facts are, it’s not just the traveling rides that have accidents, injure and kill people. One website, rideaccidents.com, has some interesting records and statistics and a searchable database.
When you compare the current State Fair to how it was 35-40 years ago, there have been huge improvements. Now most of the equipment comes in ahead of time and is set up over a period of days. It once came in within hours of opening and while the fair officially opened on a Monday, the public was allowed inside on Sunday – WHILE the rides were being set up. Visitors were often given free rides that night so I doubt anything was inspected.
How else has the South Carolina State Fair changed? Here are a few examples.
The SC State Fair has been at the same location since 1904. In 1966 a fire destroyed the Hippodrome Building which was replaced with the Ruff and Hampton Buildings.
Once everywhere you walked was dirt. Wood shavings/sawdust was used but the area still looked like a dust cloud as you approached the fairgrounds.
The Fair ran for two weeks, the first week for whites, the second for blacks.
At one time the sale of beer was a big attraction for some people. Beer is no longer sold in an effort to make the event more ‘family friendly.’
The “hoochie coochie” shows of scantily clad, dancing women are gone, and I think the “freak” sideshows which exploited deformities of both humans and animals are gone as well- at least I hope they still are.
For safety reasons, anyone under the age of 16 is no longer admitted after 5 pm without a parent or legal guardian and officials have the right to turn away anyone they feel is wearing offensive or gang related clothes and jewelry.
More recently, stationary buidings which were used by local schools and organizations to cook and serve food have been torn down. (This is one change I personally don’t care for. )
**Just a thought, and I realize the fair arrives slighty earlier than it once did, but years ago it was usually MUCH colder. I remember wearing a heavy jacket and still being cold at night! Of course, one could also take $10 to the fair, spend the entire day and still have some change left over…..**
Hopefully the rest of this year’s S C Fair run will be a safe and fun one for everyone. One thing for sure, there’s plenty to see, lots to do, and a huge selection of food – and you KNOW the food always tastes better at the fair. And oh how good all that food smells!