Why You Should — and Shouldn’t — Visit the Upstate South Carolina State Fair at the Greenville-Pickens Speedway

by D. Lanier Shook                         September 2, 2019

You will notice that my title is extremely specific. That’s because I want you to know exactly which Fair I’m going to be discussing. It will be going on for another six days and this article will share why you would or wouldn’t want to attend. One reason I want to be so specific in this review is the State Fair in Columbia is a different affair completely than the one in Easley.

The Upstate South Carolina State Fair is a lot of fun. Its full of rides — which I’ll review — and plenty of good food. There isn’t that much in the way of deep fried oddities — I did see some alligator, but there are plenty of food trailers serving lemonade, pizza, burgers, and sugary treats. If you need to get your funnel cake fix, this is the place to be. They also have several shows, including pig races, lions and tiger displays, and a demolition derby, although most of them were over by the time I visitied.

On the other hand, this is not the State Fair in Columbia. There are no exhibits and the exhibit space is extremely limited even if they wanted to put out any. There is one Exhibit Hall and while it had several very nice collectible cars — two classic Corvettes, a El Camino, a SS, and a Caprice Classic — they’re just window dressing. The only exhibits in the hall were a Tupperware booth, a Mount Valley Foundation Service booth, several politicians, and Bethel Calvary Baptist Church giving out free balloon animals, face-painting, and candy. This fair is a fun-filled event, but if you’re looking for agriculture, art, or craft exhibits, well, it isn’t for you.

However, if you’re looking for rides, fair food, or games of chance, then you’re in luck — pun intended — and you have an entire week to enjoy it. I paid $5 for parking and $8 to get in. If you want to ride the rides I would recommend the unlimited rides wristband, since there are alot of great rides. I’d also recommend you order them online so you don’t have to stand in line at the ticket booth. If you’re already sold on the fair then just click here to visit their website where you can buy tickets online and save.

The reason to visit this fair is the rides and while I won’t cover them all I can give you a rundown of 75% of them. (Although I didn’t ride any.)

For those of you with a deathwish you’ll want to look at SKYFALL. It consists of two gondolas that swing back and forth before swinging all the way into the air, leaving the riders hanging upside down about a hundred feet in the air. I have ridden this one and it is terrifying. (No, I didn’t have a deathwish — the rides at the Ag Center were free until 9 am and I decided if I was gonna ride a ride I’d ride a real ride. Boy, did I ever. Most of the time my eyes were closed and the little kid behind me kept going “Boring, boring.” Right.) I give SKYFALL 15 screams out of 10.

POLAR XPRESS is a small roller coaster, but basically a really fast merry-go-round. Its a little fast for my taste, but the ride conductor had to remind the riders to scream. 4 screams out of 10

CRAZY MOUSE it a real roller coaster, not that hair-raising, except for the fact the cars rotate as they roll along. I give it 7 screams out of 10

THE ORBITER is like a giant spider with three cars on the end of each arm, which spin in a circle as it goes around. (This reminds me of something astronauts use in training.) I rate it 8 screams out of 10.

CLIFFHANGER isn’t a bad ride for a couple of reasons. It pretty much hang-gliding, providing a controlled exhilarating experience. I give it 5 screams out of 10.

PHAROAH’S FURY is a ship — think a “Viking Ship” — suspended in a frame. They swing it back and forth, almost to the point where the passengers are staring directly at the ground, but not quite.  A little more exhilerating than Cliffhanger, but still controlled. I give it 8 screams out of 10.

And those are the high points. There are other rides and attractions you would expect at a carnival. There are also free “selfie stations” around the midway where you can stand behind a display and get your photo with your head looking through a hole.

And, that’s the Upstate SC State Fair. I spent an hour there, strolling around. There’s not alot to look at and if you really want a deep fried chipmunk on a stick then you’re out of luck, but if you want a solid midway ride fix then this is place to go. It’s close, it’s fun, and depending on how you buy your tickets, it’s relatively affordable. I can easily see several of you spending the entire day here.


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