The 3rd annual Horry County Fair took place April 20th-29th at the Myrtle Beach Speedway. Jennifer Willard, the Director of Sales and Marketing at the Myrtle Beach Speedway and NASCAR Racing Experience, is pleased with the outcome of the 2018 fair and looks forward to expanding its educational and community goals. “We haven’t finished collecting data to determine this year’s exact attendance but we believe we’re about 10% up from last year, very close to the 90,000 people mark,” says Willard.
Admission to the Horry County Fair was $5. All those 65 and up were $3 and 4 and under were free. There were several themed days and discounts available throughout the fair. Monday and Tuesday were originally intended to be Military day during which all Military personnel get into the fair for $3. “Unfortunately, we were closed Monday due to weather so we made Tuesday and Wednesday Military days,” says Willard.
Opening day of the fair had a “grand opening” theme; Saturday was family fun day; Sunday was Earth Day when the first 100 people admitted into the fair got reusable bags; Monday the fair was rained out; Tuesday was $10 unlimited ride wristbands day; Wednesday was Senior Day; Thursday night was Ladies Night sponsored by Nash Country featuring $2 wine slushies and the first 100 ladies admitted for free; Friday was “fabulous Friday;” Saturday was family day and “Drift-A-Fair” featuring drift racing; and Sunday was “Last Chance” and closing day.
There was plenty of family-friendly entertainment throughout the fair including several nights of concerts by tribute bands for artists such as: Bruno Mars, Tim McGraw, and the Blues Brothers. There was also a Christian music group called “Under the Son.” The Horry County Fair also featured local bands such as Geena Davis and Oracle Blue Music. Cover bands did well at the Horry County Fair and Willard finds that they’re a financially sound option for concerts; “real, true headliners are not profitable for the fair. The admission price does not justify the cost of the act,” says Willard.
Other entertainment included: a comedy hypnosis show, racing pigs, a petting zoo, character meet and greets, and a karaoke show for kids with “Little Big Shots.” Conceptual Arts performed acrobatic and silk acts and taught some classes for children in between their shows. In the Myrtle Beach area, there is a motorsports high school called PALM Charter High School; representatives from the school did demonstrations during the fair. There was also a "touch and feel” equipment area featuring mini backhoes and excavators for kids to play on. The local electrical company did hot power line demonstrations for fairgoers to observe.
Strates Shows was the carnival provider for the 2018 Horry County Fair. They sold tickets and $25 unlimited ride wristbands each day. The only exception was $10 wristbands on Tuesday and Wednesday nights.
One of the most popular food items at the fair this year was a Krispy Kreme Donut Burger. Willard also says that fried sweets always do very well at the fair. New this year, the Horry County Fair featured the “Krispy Kreme Donut Dare at the Fair.” Twelve people who volunteered were given a dozen donuts to eats as quickly as possible. Whoever won got a prize package and there were consolation prizes for all participants. “The first contest was so popular that we decided to do it every day of the fair,” says Willard.
When it comes to advertising the Horry County Fair, Willard relies on local partnerships to get the message out. “It’s only the third year we’re doing this. “It’s a big initiative to bring in the fair and get it all together so it’s certainly become a community endeavor,” says Willard. Cable and radio companies are big partners with the Horry County Fair. Willard was mainly focused this year on trade with local companies. “I try very hard to demand support from the community and a partnership with local companies,” says Willard.
This year, visitmyrtlebeach.com was the presenting sponsor of the fair along with the Myrtle Beach Chamber of Commerce. Currently, there are 6 or 7 full time staff members at the Myrtle Beach Speedway. During the fair, the full time staff both hire people for part time positions and accept volunteers for the duration of the event. “We like to say ‘find where you can get in and fit in’” says Willard. During the rest of the year, the Myrtle Beach Speedway staff is programming the facility with NASCAR races and other events such as “Monster Truck Beach Devastation.” Willard says that she and the rest of her staff are looking forward to growing the fair to be a huge educational component in the state.