The South Carolina State fair is celebrating its 150th anniversary this year.
Photo by Hayden Blakeney
It is unclear whether the South Carolina State Fair’s attendance was affected by the chaos Saturday night after false reports of a shooter caused crowd panic.
A group of adolescents ran through the crowd Saturday night shouting that there was a shooter present. Fairgoers rushed towards exits and climbed fences to flee the grounds.
Richland County Sheriff Department tweeted out that there had not been a shooting at the state fair, but the fair closed early that night.
On Sunday, the day after the incident, 33,000 people attended the State Fair. This was 14,657 fewer attendees than the first Sunday of the fair last year, fair public relations coordinator Bertram Rantin said. There were thunderstorms and rain throughout the day on Sunday, which could have tamped down attendance, he said.
Monday, known as College Day, was sunny with temperatures in the 70s and attendances soared.
Students got in for free with their valid student IDs. There were 41,739 people in attendance, 5,903 more than 2018.
It seemed students weren’t going to let the scare at the fair Saturday night ruin their annual free admission to one of Columbia’s biggest events of the year.
This included University of South Carolina senior Zach Koval, who attended the fair Monday night with his girlfriend and two friends.Koval said he wasn’t worried about anything happening while he was there.
“I saw that Richland County [Police Department] tweeted that there wasn’t an active shooter,” Koval said. “And there’s metal detectors and police present.”
However, not everyone felt comfortable attending, especially in the wake of past U.S. mass shootings in schools and other public places. “Since all the mass shootings in the past, it seems like a good opportunity for it (a shooting) to occur,” USC senior Olivia Gandy said. “The thought of a shooting happening there gives me so much anxiety. I can’t enjoy it.”
This isn’t the first time an incident occurred at the State Fair. In 2015, a teenager was shot inside the fairgrounds and in 2004, three teenagers were shot outside the gates.
The South Carolina State Fair is celebrating its 150th anniversary this year.