I really hated that I couldn’t stick around at the South Carolina State Fair a couple of weeks ago to get some photos of the rides at night. The lights are always amazing, and are perfect for long-exposure photography. So, I decided the next best thing would be to head to the Upper South Carolina State Fair on a weekday evening and take some shots.
When I arrived the parking lot was a bit sparse. I found a place right next to the gate. It was a Tuesday evening, and I wasn’t expecting huge crowds. However, this place looked like a ghost town. I’d like to chalk it up to being an off night. The Upper State Fair is a bit sleazier than the State Fair, and the lack of people just exacerbated the problem. It was downright creepy.
I first walked by the games. The carnies were bored, and were chatting with each other and other fair workers while waiting for unsuspecting customers. A couple of them even mugged for the cameras.
One carnie was particularly obnoxious, but that was his job. He had the unfortunate task of manning the dunk tank. Which meant he had to make people mad enough at him to take a shot. He taunted me as I lined up to take a shot of one of the rides…
Carnie: Hey, Grandpa, why don’t you come over here with that camera? I don’t bite!
Me: Yeah, but you still smell bad.
There was silence as he tried for a comeback to my juvenile retort. Having bested him, I smiled and gave him a thumbs up, and we actually chatted for a bit about photography and other things. I felt sorry for the guy.
I’ve said this before, but midway artwork is some of the most garish, most risque stuff around. There is something patently unwholesome about it, and I can understand why my parents didn’t want us going to the fair when I was a child. We would do the exhibits at the Laurens County Fair, but never the midway. This fair had an actual freak show. I decided not to venture in, but the signs advertising the wonders contained within were themselves something to behold.
These weren’t the only oddities available. Apparently there was a giant horse and a giant steer, but these were conveniently ensconced behind curtains. Pay to see.
What people there were in attendance seemed to be at the shows. There was a trapeze show that I just missed, and a horse show was just getting underway.
I headed over to the exhibits, such as they were. One part of the hall was set up as a house of horrors. The rest was…bleak.
However, even with no customers the Gideons were still at it. There was a Baptist church set up in the next booth, but they had bailed.
I was hoping that delaying would give it more time for people to arrive. No people = no rides running, which means no good long-exposure photography opportunities. Fortunately, there were some takers, so the riders were running.
It was interesting to see who the rides changed appearance depending on exposure and which lights were flashing. For example, the Ferris wheel could look static or blurred depending on exposure. The delay makes it look like it was spinning much faster than it was.
The Zipper was even more fascinating. It has a complex configuration as is.
However, as the ride gets underway it starts to look like a Spirograph pattern.
Overall, the experience at the Upper State Fair was disappointing. The place just left me with the creeps. Maybe on a weekend or a busier night it would be different, but this time it was weird. Given the fact that this place did steal one of my most popular photos for their website, I think next year I’ll just skip it.
Regardless, here are all of the photos from this trip: