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2008 SC State Fair, Fairgrounds: 19 October 2008   8 comments

Posted at 2:12 am in Uncategorized

OK, perhaps it is a cheat to do a closing on an annual event, and doing this many pictures is certainly way into overkill territory, but I do like the Fair, and I really like neon! Some of the night pictures came out really well, some are just so-so -- the closing-cam is a circa 2001 model that is definitely not meant for anything like night available-light photography but the results are interesting (to me at any rate).

Signs of the times, I suppose, but I didn't see the video game tent anywere back in the midway this year. This may be an artifact of the new(ish) operator. I think in the old days it was Deggler, then Conklin and now American Amusements or something like that. Also, no freakshow of any kind. The had kinder-gentler freak shows (ie, no actual "freaks": "Zoma, the jungle boy!") as late as the 1980s. And I think it's been many years since there was one, but it just occurred to me this year that I hadn't seen the Bingo tent either.

These first shots are from 22 September when I took two photos down to the Cantey building to enter them in the art show. (I thought there were better than some of the stuff that got included, but in the event, both were "juried out" of the show -- oh well!). At this point basically nothing is set up except the permanent buildings (and the sky ride).

The day shots were actually taken on 19 October, after the night shots, but it seems more normal to include them here first since 'day' precedes 'night'.

These night shots were taken on 10 October from about 9pm to about closing time at 11pm. The handwriting computer has been there for my entire life (as far as I can remember anyway!) I don't think they even make the pretense that it's a 'real' computer anymore, (in the beginning, it did look very futuristic and impressive).

These final shots come from Monday 20 October when I went back to the Cantey building to pick up the photos. Almost the entire midway was already gone -- those guys work fast!

UPDATE 14 July 2009: If you enjoyed this post, you can buy products printed with some of these images at the Columbia Closings web store.

8 Responses to '2008 SC State Fair, Fairgrounds: 19 October 2008'

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  1. I have attended the fair every year (except two) since 1963. My wife is tired of hearing me recite how it used to be and how different it is now.

    I like the modern version. It's SO much cleaner and customer-friendly. I think all events and amusement parks have finally taken a lesson from Disney.

    When I was a kid the fairgrounds were unpaved so they covered the dirt with sawdust. Not sure how that was an improvement. Seemed like it rained every year and you slogged through ankle-deep mud the entire time.

    There was a horse racing track where the big parking lot is now, with ancient wooden grandstands. There were lots of really creepy freakshows, with barkers out front, and the hootchie cootchie shows that today would be rated PG. I shook hands with Lobster Boy several years in a row.

    Remember the game where you bet on which hole a live mouse would run into? Or the one where the prize was a live goldfish in a tiny glass bowl? I can still hear the endless clinking of folks trying to throw nickels into cheap glassware.

    Of course, a huge difference between then and now is beer. Many fairgoers were staggering after a few too many big paper Budweiser cups of overpriced, lukewarm draft beer. Today I think you'd get thrown out if you even asked for one.


    22 Oct 08 at 8:45 am

  2. Back in the 1960s and early 70s the midway was run by an outfit called Goody's who billed it as "Goody's Million Dollar Midway." Obviously you could buy a lot more for a million dollars then than today.

    Another thing missing is the wooden food booths set up and run by church and civic groups.


    22 Oct 08 at 9:13 am

  3. I noticed this year that the Rocket was sponsored by Time Warner when people were announced to meet their parties there. I found that comical and sad at the same time, if that's possible.


    22 Oct 08 at 9:36 am

  4. Yeah, I thought that was very lame. The signs on the cable cars don't seem to have caught up with that though!

    Another thing that's not there anymore: They used to have, in the Steel Building I think, the SC Egg Board (or whatever the body is) with a curtained booth. Inside was a powerful light bulb masked with a funnel shaped cone. They would hold an egg up to the end of the cone, which would throw enough light into it to make it translucent and then would explain the flaws of that particular egg (double yolk or whatever) and how the Egg Board was protecting you from bad eggs. Sounds bizarre now, but neat for kids.


    22 Oct 08 at 11:22 am

  5. I was glad to see that they still have the baby ducks getting tricked into sliding down the water slide, and the peeps getting tricked inot riding the tiny Ferris wheel.


    23 Oct 08 at 6:59 am

  6. I'm a little surprised that's lasted this long. On the one hand, it's funny, and kids love it. On the other hand it's a bit mean. They should at least get some food out of it.

    Remember when they had chickens playing tic-tac-toe? I tried that one year, and got so flustered that a chicken was actually playing that I lost!


    23 Oct 08 at 7:37 pm

  7. I remember that you could get staggeringly drunk on the Budweiser beer that was sold there. A lot of people got that way which forced the alcohol prohibition. I lived in Wisconsin for 10 years. The state fair there still serves beer to its patrons without many problems. They have a zero tolerance for drunkeness but allow the responsible consumption of beer.


    5 Apr 09 at 11:36 pm

  8. The reason the fair cut out beer sales about 1982 or 1983 wasn't so much because of the beer directly, but because of the indirect result of the amount of fights. I remember The State citing how many arrests were made for fighting during the 2 week period and it was several hundred.


    30 Oct 09 at 9:41 pm

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