If you can smell the funnel cake in the air, hear the roar of a spinning ride filled with screaming children and see images of winning giant stuffed animals in your dreams, then it must be that time of year again.
The Western Carolina State Fair returns to Aiken from Thursday, Oct. 18, to Saturday, Oct. 27, at the Aiken Fairgrounds.
There will be vendors, games, arts and horticultural competitive exhibits and, of course, the rides.
This year there will be a ton of rides to choose from including Dutch Wheel, Freak Out, Full Tilt, Mardi Gras Glasshouse, Mouse Trap Dark Ride, Orbiter, Pharaoh’s Fury, Racing Coaster, Ring of Fire, Scooter, Sizzler, Starship 3000, Super Cat Himalaya, Tango, Tilt-A-Whirl, Tornado, Little Tornado, Yo-Yo, Zipper, Adrenaline Rush, Bear Affair, Fire Chief, Choo Choo Charlie, Classic Carousel, Dizzy Dragon, Fun Slide, Helicopter, Jump Around Baja, Jumpin’ Star, Mini Himalaya, Orient Express, Raiders-Space Cars, Speedway, Tea Cups, Wheelie, Up-Up and Away Little Pirate Swing, Happy Swing, Automania, Wackey World Bounce, Hamster Roll, Mechanical Bull and Power Tramp Bungee.
“We swapped out one of the two roller coasters from last year for a new ride called Tango,” said Warren Lucas, vice president of fair operations. “We’re a little different from some fairs; we’ll have the kids zone separated from the bigger rides. We try to change it up and make it look a little different.”
Each day during the fair there will be a slew of events to enjoy, including Ackmonsters Chainsaw Art, the Circle C Petting Zoo, High Flying Pages flying trapeze act and Doogies of the Wild West. The chainsaw art will be going throughout the day, while the other three will have two shows per day.
“This year we’ve got three good ground acts, and we also have a community stage with different acts,” Lucas said. “We’re just really excited about this year.”
The first two days of the fair will also feature the USCA Pro Rodeo at 7 p.m. inside the Bridgestone Arena. The USCA baseball rodeo event has become “a family tradition for 13 years” and will host events such as bull riding, bareback riding, saddle bronc riding, calf roping, steer wrestling and team roping.
The rodeo will host “The Carolina Outdoors Bull Chip Throw,” and someone will win a “luxury deluxe golf cart” each night.
Saturday, Oct. 20, is dubbed Harvest Fun Saturday and will feature a diaper derby and a few decorating and eating competitions on the main stage. There will be a pumpkin decorating contest early in the afternoon followed by an apple bobbing and pie eating contest.
The following day will be Church Day/Hispanic Night. There will be a church service at 10:30 a.m. and later in the day there will be gospel music on the main stage at 1:30 p.m.
From noon to 2 p.m. on Oct. 21 anyone who brings a church bulletin will get free gate entry.
The following week will include two Demolition Derbys – 7 p.m. on Thursday, Oct. 25, and Saturday, Oct. 27.
Other events include Military Monday on Oct. 22 where those who come to the fair are asked to wear red, We Care Wednesday on Oct. 24 in which nonperishable canned food will serve as free gate entry and an Aiken Chamber Business After Hours event from 5 to 8 p.m. on Thursday, Oct. 25.
On Friday, Oct. 26, there will be a “Gleeful” competition, a talent show based on the hit television show “Glee.”
The final day, Saturday, Oct. 27, will also host a cheerleading competition from noon to 5 p.m. inside the Bridgestone Arena and a Chainsaw Carving Auction from 4 to 5 p.m. on the main stage.
Tickets and Mega Passes can be purchased by visiting www.westerncarolinastatefair.com. Mega Passes are only sold in advance and are $25. Gate admission is $5 in advance and $6 at the gate.
The Western Carolina State Fair is located at Aiken Fairgrounds, 561 May Royal Dr., Aiken, SC 29801.
Chris Walsh is the arts and entertainment reporter for the Aiken Standard. He graduated from Valdosta State University and hails from Atlanta.