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Online ticket purchases, new rides on deck for 2018 Columbia County Fair & Rodeo

SPOTLIGHT FILE PHOTO - Columbia County Fair & Rodeo organizers say a wider variety of rides will be added to this years summertime fair.The 103rd annual Columbia County Fair & Rodeo is just over two months away, and this year, for the first time, fairgoers can buy tickets online.

Pre-sale tickets are on sale now for the July fair and a monster truck show. The monster truck event, put on by Malicious Monster Trucks, will feature exhibits of the massive, beefed up trucks, as well as rides in the trucks for an extra fee.

The event addition, along with the technological upgrades available this year, promise more convenience with more entertainment, says Amanda McFeron, a Columbia County Fair Board member.

"We actually have a new ticketing agency, Afton ticketing," McFeron says. "Tickets are actually available online right now. They can go to the fairgrounds website and purchase tickets in advance."

The electronic ticketing option is a major milestone for the annual, volunteer-run event. In years past, fairgoers could only purchase tickets in advance by visiting the office at the fairgrounds during office hours, or participating ticket vendors around the county for pre-sale tickets.

"There's gonna be a surcharge, just like any other ticketing venue, but it's a minimal surcharge," McFeron notes. "By doing this, you can purchase tickets online upfront. You will also be able to use debit and credit cards."

This year's event also promises a wider variety of rides and attractions.

"This year they're going to bring out more rides than last year," McFeron says. "The company ... took feedback from the board last year and fairgoers, and they're striving to get a broader set of rides out there."

The annual fair and rodeo has become a summertime tradition for many county residents, but the event requires behind-the-scenes volunteer work and preparation nearly all year long.

Because the event isn't sustained on just ticket sales alone, it also requires thousands of dollars in support and funding from sponsors.

"We couldn't do what we do if we didn't have volunteer staff that come out and help on a regular basis and the sponsors we get," says McFeron. "They're a very crucial part of keeping our fair alive and going. We wouldn't be where we are without them."

To ensure adequate sponsorship money and ease the burden on often over-taxed fair volunteers, the fair board hired a marketing agency to help solicit corporate and community sponsorships.

"There have been some difficulties with sponsorships before, because the board is a volunteer board that works, so going out and getting sponsorships is very difficult," McFeron notes.

She said the agency hired to help Columbia County is the same agency used and recommended by other counties throughout the state.

Columbia County Fair & Rodeo

The 2018 fair & rodeo opens Wednesday, July 18 and runs through Sunday, July 22.

Pre-sale tickets are available online here.

Fair tickets can be purchased as a bundle with monster truck show tickets, or as season passes or daily admission.

Fair admission is $5 for children and seniors; $8 for adults. Carnival wristbands are available for $25. Fair admission and parking are separate fees.

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