Rides, music, fried food, and farm animals are back for another edition of the Coastal Carolina Fair. It is open every day now through November 9. The fair raises money for local charities and scholarships. Last year the fair raised more than $800,000. If you live in an apartment in Charleston, SC, head to the fair.
Fall is in the air and that means it's time for thrill rides, outdoor entertainment and fried food.
At the fair
The annual Coastal Carolina Fair opens its gates today and running to Nov. 9. Nearly 250,000 people will attend the fair during its 11-day run.
Here's what you need to know:
Location: Exchange Park, 9850 U.S. Highway 78, Ladson
Gate hours: 3-9 p.m. Monday-Thursday; 3-10 p.m. Friday; 10 a.m.-10 p.m. Saturday; Noon-9 p.m. Sunday. Gates close an hour earlier on Friday and Saturday nights this year.
Admission: $8/adults; $5/children 6-12; free/5 and under. Handstamps for unlimited rides are $20 Sunday through Thursday and $25 on Friday and Saturday. Coupon books are $20. Regular price tickets are available at the gates, at Walgreens and online.
Arriving: Signs on Interstate 26 will direct you to use exit 205A (U.S. 78) or exit 203 (College Park Road). Officials have made some improvements this year to help fair-goers get parked more quickly in an effort to alleviate traffic on surrounding roads, said spokesman Joe Bolchoz.
Parking: Once you reach the fairgrounds, S.C. Highway Patrol and other officials will direct you to a parking area. There is parking for 10,000 cars, so make a note of where you leave your vehicle. Parking areas are well-lit and are patrolled. Handicap spaces are available near Gate 1.
Entering: Gates for the fair are numbered 1, 2 and 4. Gate 1, fronting U.S. 78, is handicap-accessible. This is also where parents can drop off or pick up teenagers. Regular price admission tickets are available at all three gates.
Safety: Charleston County sheriff's deputies, some in plain clothes, and Exchange Club members are on patrol. Exchange Club members wear khaki baseball caps with "Coastal Carolina Fair" on them.
Layout: The grounds are laid out in a figure eight. The exhibit halls, two Kiddieland ride areas, the petting zoo and livestock areas, the entertainment stages and many food vendors are in the front circle. The loops intersect at the handstamp ticket sales, and the Midway rides, games and more food vendors are in the back.
Necessaries: There are seven sets of restrooms with diaper-changing stations throughout the grounds. They are staffed by attendants. Handwashing stations are at the petting zoo, and several additional antiseptic stations are throughout the fairgrounds.
Budget-minded visitors: Admission includes daily entertainment on four stages, the animal barn, horse shows and exhibits.
Food: "We have the same great variety we've always had, you can find a peanut butter and jelly sandwich or a full-course meal. We have traditional fair food like elephant ears, funnel cakes and hotdogs and we have healthy salads."
Vendors range from local clubs to traveling vendors.
Picnic areas offer a place to sit and eat away from the crowd.
Handstamps vs. coupons: Handstamps allow unlimited rides, but families who want to ride only a few rides can purchase coupon books, which can be used by more than one person.
Rides: There are 65 rides this year.
"We may have a couple more if we can fit them in," Bolchoz said. "We always manage to bring three to five new rides, but we also find that what's old is new again. There are some perennial favorites like the Fireball and Megadrop that people enjoy every year."
Almost half the rides are in the two Kiddieland areas. The thrill rides are on the Midway. The Exchange Club prides itself on bringing in the latest thrill rides, which are always checked out by state ride inspectors and an independent company.
Shows: The exhibit buildings have 4H contests, award-winning bullrider shows and more.
Tips: If you'd like to try to avoid crowds, Bolchoz suggests arriving early and on weekdays. Saturdays are the busiest days.
"There's nothing here on the weekend that's not here during the week, but the crowds and traffic are a little bit better during the week".
Young at heart: Senior Citizens Day, for those 60 and older, is 11 a.m.-3 p.m. Wednesday. Admission is $4. The event includes special games and contests, a fashion show and line dancing. The Midway opens at 3 p.m.
Closing time: Rides generally stay open two hours past the gate closing. Nightly fireworks shows are at 8:45 p.m. Sunday through Thursday and 9:30 p.m. Friday and Saturday.