The 106th annual Orangeburg County Fair will kick off on a sky-high note Tuesday night as six performers will enter the fair gates in a rather unique way.
Skydivers from the Special Forces Association Parachute Team will jump out of a perfectly good 206 LongRanger helicopter at approximately 7 p.m. and descend onto the fairgrounds for all attendees to experience.
The skydivers will jump with a 500-square-foot United States flag and another flag representative of Orangeburg County.
Joe Rich, owner of Sunshine Steel Recycling of Orangeburg and member and sponsor of the parachute team, will also be jumping.
As part of the dive, jumpers will have M18 smoke grenades attached to their feet so those on the ground will be able to watch them descend.
"The divers will land at the fair and talk to kids about the helicopter and they will be able to talk to the skydivers," Rich said.
The SFAPT began as the Green Beret Sport Parachute Club at Fort Bragg, North Carolina in 1961.
The team performs freefall parachute demonstrations in support of local and national events.
The team consists of active duty military, retired military, along with current Department of Defense support elements. The group's main emphasis is to enhance the image and heritage of the U.S. Army Special Forces, past and future.
The Special Forces Association Parachute Team is a 501(C)(19) nonprofit, tax exempt organization which raises money for wounded warriors coming home from combat. Over the years, about $28 million has been raised for the effort.
In addition to the skydiving show, fair goers will also experience the traditional fair rides, games, food and entertainment.
The fair will run Oct. 3-8 at the fairgrounds from 5 to 10 p.m. Tuesday through Thursday, 5 p.m. to 12 a.m. Friday, 11 a.m. to 12 a.m. Saturday and 1 p.m. to 7 p.m. Sunday.
Lunch will be available at the fair from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Tuesday through Friday.
Fair admission is $6 for adults and $4 for children. Parking is $2, except between 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Tuesday through Friday when it will be free for the lunch crowd, provided they drive in at the lower gate on Magnolia Street.
Florida-based Prime Time Amusements LLC is the new midway provider, with 40 rides to be featured this year. A Mega Drop Zone will be a new addition this year, taking riders skyward and dropping them in free fall.
Another new event will be what is typically referred to as the "Globe of Death," in which a stunt rider rides a motorcycle inside a mesh sphere.
Other new entertainment this year will include Lew-E the Clown, Cowboy Danny Grant and his cowboy tricks and circus skills and ventriloquist Gene Cordova.
Bounce houses will be available for children under 36 inches tall, and balloon sculpturist Dewayne Reynolds will also be back.
Food will once again be a big draw at the fair. New vendor fare will include fried green tomatoes and fried pickles. Favorites such as elephant ears and cotton candy will return, along with fried alligator tail for those with more adventurous palates.
Exhibits will feature the work of local artists, ornamental horticulture, quilts and canned goods as well as the 4-H backyard poultry project.
Competitive events to check out will include the 4-H/FFA Youth Dairy Heifer Show, the Commercial Dairy Heifer Show, the Youth Beef Cattle Show, the Youth Barrow Show and the Meat Goat Project Show. In addition, a Tractor Show will be held near the back of the fairgrounds on Wednesday.
Mega Passes before the fair will be sold at the Orangeburg Piggly Wiggly, the Orangeburg County Chamber of Commerce and Calhoun Auto Works. Mega Passes, which are $50, will allow individuals to have unlimited rides each day of the fair. Advance admission tickets, which allow entry every day of the fair, are $25.
The Orangeburg County Fair is one of the longest running fairs in the country. Originally, the event primarily focused on celebrating local agriculture, but it has evolved into more of an entertainment venue.
For more information about the fair, visit www.orangeburgcountyfair.org.