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State Fair a S.C. Tradition for Nearly 150 Years

The South Carolina State Fair's midway rides at night.
Nathan Harper [CC BY-NC-ND 2.0] via Flickr
The South Carolina State Fair's midway rides at night.

The South  Carolina State Fair has rolled around every fall since 1869.  Begun on Columbia’s Elmwood Avenue as an agricultural exposition, historian Rodger Stroup and fair manager Gary Goodman say it has kept its agricultural and mechanical roots while expanding through the years at its present location on Rosewood Drive, where it moved in 1914. 

"I think it's one of the things that appeals to everybody's child heart." -- S.C. State Fair Manager Gary Goodman

Stroup is writing a history of the fair, to be published in 2019, its sesquicentennial year.  He has discovered many little-known facts in his research, including the fact that Rosewood Drive itself, now a major traffic artery, was built in the 1920s to bring traffic from the Pee Dee and Sumter side of town around the city and directly to the fairgrounds to avoid snarling traffic downtown.  Goodman said the fair appeals to everyone’s child heart, and it’s a valued tradition with many South Carolina families.     

Tut Underwood is producer of South Carolina Focus, a weekly news feature. A native of Alabama, Tut graduated from Auburn University with a BA in Speech Communication. He worked in radio in his hometown before moving to Columbia where he received a Master of Mass Communications degree from the University of South Carolina, and worked for local radio while pursuing his degree. He also worked in television. He was employed as a public information specialist for USC, and became Director of Public Information and Marketing for the South Carolina State Museum. His hobbies include reading, listening to music in a variety of styles and collecting movies and old time radio programs.