AIKEN, S.C. (WJBF)- Starting Thursday, the third annual Aiken Fest is back! It began during the pandemic as a way for people to get outside and have some fun.

The event features all your favorite parts of a state fair, including 20 rides, games and of course, fair food.

It was created in 2021 by Reithoffer Shows as a way to give families something fun to do, while still keeping them safe during the pandemic.

Not to mention – it brought more jobs to the area during a tough time.

“Well Reithoffer, their employees couldn’t work during lockdown because there were no fairs. So it was a good way to get people back to work and it was a good way to get people out of the house. And it was supported really big at a time when people still were not very comfortable coming out,” said Dustin Turner, the communications manager at Alison South Marketing.

All of the rides, games and food vendors were spaced out so people could observe social distancing. There were hand sanitizing stations placed all over the fair grounds and fair workers sanitized all of the rides and games after each use.

This year, patron’s can still expect attention to safety precautions. Hand sanitizing stations will be available and rides and games will be regularly sanitized.

There will be metal detectors as folks come in and all bags larger than a clutch purse must be clear, including diaper bags. Turner explained that it’s all being done because safety is their first priority.

Aiken Fest opens at at the Aiken Fairgrounds on May Royal Drive at 5 p.m. on Thursday, March 9 and runs until Sunday, March 19.

CLICK HERE for Aiken Fest times and to buy tickers.