Headed to the NC or SC State Fair? Here’s what you need to know

The South Carolina State Fair returns to Columbia Oct. 13-24, 2021.

They’re back! The North Carolina and South Carolina State Fairs are returning this year to Raleigh and Columbia.

In addition to the usual staples of family-friendly entertainment, rides, animals and deep-fried food, here’s what you need to know before you go.

NORTH CAROLINA STATE FAIR

The North Carolina State Fair runs from Oct. 14-24.

Hours:

Oct. 14 – 12 p.m. - 11 p.m.

Oct. 15-16 – 8 a.m. - 12 a.m.

Oct. 17-21 – 8 a.m. - 11 p.m.

Oct. 22-23 – 8 a.m. - 12 a.m.

Oct. 24 – 8 a.m. - 11 p.m.

NC State Fairgrounds address:

1025 Blue Ridge Road

Raleigh, NC 27607

For directions, click here.

Free parking is available on State Fair, Carter-Finley Football Stadium and PNC Arena properties.

Free shuttles will also be available for off-site parking at 4501 Reedy Creek Road.

For more information on parking, shuttles and Amtrak train service to the fair, click here.

If you want to beat the crowds, consider attending on a weekday or before lunch each day. Fair officials said these are the times when it’s less crowded. Insider tip: The first Friday, Oct. 15, is traditionally the day with the smallest attendance.

Tickets

Tickets can be purchased online here.

Advance adult, youth and senior admission tickets, unlimited ride wristbands and ride ticket sheets can be purchased in person at participating Circle K locations around the state. Tickets will be available until the last day of the fair on Oct. 24.

Ticket prices through Oct. 14 are $10 for adults ages 13-64, $5 for children ages 6-12 and seniors age 65 and older. Children age 5 and younger are admitted free.

Tickets purchased after Oct. 14 at the gate or at Circle K will cost $13 for adults and $7 for children ages 6-12 and seniors age 65 and older.

Tickets for members of the military are available at the gate for $8.

Cash, Visa, MasterCard and American Express will be accepted at all gate locations.

There is a separate cost for ride tickets. Click here for more information.

COVID-19 Protocols

Proof of vaccination or a recent negative COVID-19 test is not required for admission. Face masks or coverings are also not required but fair officials recommend wearing a face mask when inside buildings and tents, and in crowded areas when social distancing isn’t possible.

The event’s two largest exhibits, the Got to Be NC Agriculture Pavilion and the NC Public House, have been moved into Dorton Arena to allow for more space.

Clear Bag Policy

New this year, the fair is implementing a clear bag policy for a more efficient and effective process in checking bags when entering. Any size or type of clear bag is acceptable.

Small purses or clutch bags no larger than 6.5″ x 4.5″ with or without a handle or strap will be allowed, in addition to one of the clear plastic bags. Medically necessary items and diaper bags will be allowed but will require additional inspection.

Click here for more information on the North Carolina State Fair’s health and safety guidance.

Special Event Days

Oct. 15 – Students can purchase tickets at the gate for $8 by showing a school ID or recent report card.

Oct. 17 – accessABILITY Day featuring rides and games operating with no lights or music from 9 a.m. - 12 p.m. Music stages will only play acoustic sets and the PA system will only be used for lost visitor announcements. There will be a “Bandwidth Chill Out Zone” where guests can take a break from the busy atmosphere outside. Noise-canceling headphones and guidebooks will also be available.

Oct. 19 – Seniors ages 65 and older get free admission.

Oct. 20 – The fair will pay tribute to members of the military with special programming.

Oct. 21 – Bring six cans of food that will be donated to the Food Bank of Central and Eastern North Carolina and receive free admission.

For more information on these events and other discounts that are available, click here.

SOUTH CAROLINA STATE FAIR

The South Carolina State Fair runs from Oct. 13-24.

Admission Hours:

Oct. 13 – 12 p.m. - 9 p.m.

Oct. 14-15 – 11 a.m. - 9 p.m.

Oct. 16 – 10 a.m. - 9 p.m.

Oct. 17 – 12 p.m. - 9 p.m.

Oct. 18-22 – 11 a.m. - 9 p.m.

Oct 23 – 10 a.m. - 9 p.m.

Oct. 24 – 12 p.m. - 8 p.m.

Rides will be open later than regular admission hours. Click here to see ride hours.

SC State Fairgrounds address:

1200 Rosewood Drive

Columbia, SC 29201

Parking costs $5 except on Oct. 16 when parking will cost $20 because of the USC vs. Vanderbilt football game.

For more information on parking, click here.

Tickets

Tickets purchased online or at Circle K cost $15 and can be used any day the fair is open.

Tickets purchased at the gate will cost $20 for children and adults up to age 54. Tickets will cost $15 for seniors age 55 and older. Children age 5 and younger are admitted free.

There is a separate cost for ride tickets. Click here for more information.

COVID-19 Protocols

Proof of vaccination or a recent negative COVID-19 test is not required for admission. Face masks or coverings are also not required but fair officials recommend wearing a face mask when inside buildings and tents, and in crowded areas when social distancing isn’t possible.

Clear Bag Policy

The fair is implementing a clear bag policy for a more efficient and effective process in checking bags when entering.

Clear plastic, vinyl or PVC bags that do not exceed 12″ x 6″ x 12″ will be permitted. Clear plastic zip-close bags that are no larger than one gallon are also allowed.

Small purses or clutch bags no larger than 6.5″ x 4.5″ with or without a handle or strap will be allowed.

Medically necessary items and diaper bags will be allowed but will require additional inspection.

Click here for more information on the South Carolina State Fair’s health and safety guidance.

Special Events Days

Oct. 13 – Opening day admission cost $5.

Oct. 14 – South Carolina Farm Bureau customers can receive free admission for two by showing a valid membership card.

Oct. 19 – Future Farmers of America students can receive free admission by showing an FFA membership card.

Oct. 21 – Active and retired military and their dependents can receive free admission by showing a military identification card. Dependent children age 10 and older must present ID.

Oct. 23 – 4-H members can receive free admission by showing a membership card.

Oct. 24 – Participants from the 2021 Walk for Life and Famously Hot Pink Walk can receive free admission by wearing the official race t-shirt.

Lunch Bunch Promo – Pop in and out of the fair for lunch with a special lunch bunch ticket, available from 12-2 p.m. each weekday except Oct. 13. Pay your entry fee with a refundable $15 ticket and return to the ticket booth by 2 p.m. to get your money back.

For more information on these events and other discounts that are available, click here.

(WATCH: Cleveland County Fair canceled over COVID-19 concerns)