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Mix it Up: Fair Nixes Grandstand Concerts, Adds Circus, Among Other Entertainment Shakeups

A circus replaces grandstand concerts at this year’s State Fair.

“Honesty is always my best policy,” South Carolina State Fair General Manager Nancy Smith tells Free Times brightly. The proclamation comes in response to questions about the budget for the now-shelved Pepsi Grandstand, the main stage that hosted the event’s headlining musical acts.

“I know that we have never gotten really good reviews from Free Times from our grandstand shows. I’m going to say that because it’s true.”

She’s not wrong. Free Times has published some pointed criticisms of the fair’s concert lineups in recent years. We’ve also tried to explain why the fair booked the stage the way it did. In the early 2010s, the fair managed a string of impressive gets — The Avett Brothers, The Roots, Darius Rucker, and Shovels Rope, among others — but in the back half of the decade, pushing past waning stars from the past, middling mainstream country artists and predictable Christian/gospel offerings became increasingly difficult for the event to pull off.

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