Food, fun, entertainment and fellowship have been hallmarks of the Orangeburg County Fair for more than a century.
The nearly week-long fair, which is held annually in the fall, provides attendees an opportunity to partake of elephant ears, hop on rides that spin, swirl and hurl, play games and view and participate in shows.
In addition to rides and food, the fair today features helicopter rides, as well as stunts and musical entertainment.
Exhibits at the fair 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 include 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.
One of the oldest continuous running fairs in the state, the Orangeburg County Fair had its beginnings in 1871.
The county Agricultural Society sponsored the initial event, which was held near the present intersection of Amelia Street and Summers Avenue.
Originally, the fair focused primarily on celebrating local agriculture.
In his written history of the Orangeburg County Fair, the late Sam Fogle, longtime fair manager, said the event was discontinued after a decade for economic reasons.
On July 1, 1911, members of the Orangeburg Chamber of Commerce and the Orangeburg County Farmers' Union collaborated to present the first Orangeburg County Fair under the Orangeburg County Fair Association. The group consisted of five members from the city and one from each of 21 townships.
In June of that year, land for the fair, which is still housed on its original property, was purchased for $4,000 from the late A.L. Dukes. A racetrack was also built prior to the inaugural event for auto and horse racing.
Held Nov. 14-18, 1911, the first fair produced a profit of $4,032. The gates opened at 9 a.m. each day, with the first three days devoted to the white population and the remaining two days to the black citizens of the county. Admission was set at 50 cents for adults and 25 cents for children 12 and younger.
Fogle noted that in 1912, the fair's first manager, the late Judge Jerry M. Hughes, secured football to be played at the fair. The University of South Carolina, Clemson University and The Citadel all played at the Orangeburg County Fair at different times beginning in 1916.
The fair also accommodated the rapidly changing technology of the early 20th century. Automobiles, previously banned from the fairgrounds for fear they would spook the horses, were finally allowed parking privileges in 1917.
The Orangeburg County Fair Association has always tried to provide entertainment that local residents enjoy.
Tastes and circumstances have changed. As a result, football games are no longer played, and beauty contests, band concerts, horse shows, races and high school sporting competitions are gone as well. Today's fairgoers expect to see mechanical rides of all types and games of skill on the midway.
Despite the fact that dwindling numbers of small farmers in the area have caused the fair to largely shift focus over the years, several agricultural, canning, baking and crafting competitions are held, and they are as popular now as ever.
For more information about the Orangeburg County Fair, visit www.orangeburgfair.com