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S.C. Fair decides against a independent midway


By MCW Staff

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Columbia, SC – The South Carolina State Fair lengthened its run to 12 days from 11 in 2007 drawing 435,952. This number is down from previous years but it “is probably a more accurate count”, said Gary Goodman, fair manager. The fair’s percentage of paid attendees increased due to a reduction in free gate promotions while the gate admission price remained the same as in 2005. 2006 also saw record ride grosses and food grosses for the fair.

To reintroduce the fair to customers that haven’t attended for many years, the fair offered a sneak peak opening half day with $1 admission. Many returned to the fair, taking advantage of the promotion. The fair stresses “ownership and tradition” in their marketing plan, building on the good will and positive experiences fair customers have had over the years.

Earlier this year, the fair sent out letters of interest to parties willing to book on a fair-run independent midway in 2007. As previously reported here, the fair received “38 responses with eight from carnivals and 30 from independent ride and game operators. We also received responses from some operations interested in partnering in permanent rides on our grounds”, said Goodman. After conducting extensive research into the logistics of an independent midway and reviewing the results of the midway presentation during the fair this year, the fair elected to extend the contract of North American Midway Entertainment (N.A.M.E.) for the 2007 fair. “The South Carolina State Fair explored the possibilities of an independent midway which their final analysis confirmed that they could not reproduce the product that North American Midway Entertainment has delivered. Between the quality of our rides, integrity of our company and the professionalism of our staff, we are known to set the bar for world class entertainment in the amusement industry. We are pleased to continue our relationship with the South Carolina State Fair along with the other 150 events throughout North America,” said Mike Williams, COO of North American Midway Entertainment.

2006 was the second year for NAME at the South Carolina State Fair, assuming the contract from Conklin Shows later purchased by NAME. The carnival fielded 68 rides, including a new Crazy Mouse coaster for the midway this year. NAME posted a record ride gross of $2,829,336.

Other major rides included the Wildcat roller coaster, Fireball, Niagra Falls Flume, Polar Express, Inverter, Scorpion and Wave Swinger. Kiddie rides included a Wacky Worm coaster, Crazy Sub, Kite Flyer and Family Swinger.

An additional challenge for the fair in 2006 was competition from a new 18,000 seat arena opening and bringing in top name entertainment throughout the year. “This has hurt our grandstand shows,” said Goodman. The concert lineup for the fair was as follows:

Joe Nichols, Oct. 12

Casting Crowns, Oct. 13

Blake Shelton, Oct. 14

The Four Tops, Oct. 15

Bill Pickney and the Original Drifters, Oct. 18

New Song, Oct. 20

Raven Symone, Oct. 21

Free stage acts also were very popular. The highlights for this year’s fair included Taylor Ware and Horn Man from America’s Got Talent, Jabali Acrobats, the Commerford Petting Zoo and Swifty Swines.

The State Fair offers an enormous variety of food. Baklava, Biscotti, Eggrolls, Fried Sweet Potatoes, Mini Donuts and Tempura were some of the more unusual fair offerings. There was also plenty of fair favorites like BBQ Ribs, Burgers and Dogs, Chicken on a Pita and Corn Dogs. Food vendors had a banner year, reporting a record gross of $3,137,191.

The South Carolina State Fair operates on a $5,500,000 budget and receives no funding from the state.

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