Skip to main content
The Official Web Site of the State of South Carolina

Smith Presented Ag Leadership Award By JDLH Staffer

John W. Parris (left) with Nancy L. Smith (center) and Elizabeth Templeton, faculty member of SC Governor’s School for Agriculture and president of the SC Association of Agricultural Educators. 
Fri, 07/28/2023

COLUMBIA, SC -- Nancy L. Smith, General Manager of the South Carolina State Fair, has been named recipient of the John W. Parris Agricultural Leadership Award by the S.C. Association of Agricultural Educators. The award was announced at the recent annual state conference of the agricultural educators at Clemson University, and was presented by Elizabeth Templeton, agriculture teacher at the Governor's School for Agriculture and president of the SCAAE.

Smith, a native of Columbia, began her career with the S.C. State Fair in the home and craft department in 1983. She assumed a full-time position with the fair in 2000 as director of entertainment and exhibits and eventually directed the marketing, advertising and sponsorship departments. She was promoted to assistant director of the fair in 2008 and general manager in 2018. 

A graduate of the Institute of Fair Management, Smith earned her Certified Fair Executive designation from the International Association of Fairs and Expositions in 2006. 

Over the years, Smith has held various offices within the S.C. Association of Fairs and currently serves as president. In 2021 she was honored with the Fair Person of the Year Award, the highest honor bestowed by the organization. 

Active in the International Association of Fairs and Expositions where she served as a member of the Speaker’s Bureau for many years, Smith served as a Zone leader prior to being named second vice chair in 2018 and chair of the organization in 2020.  The International Association of Fairs and Expositions represents more than 1100 fairs around the world and more than 900 members from allied fields. 

The SC State Fair, the state’s largest event, is a self-supported, nonprofit organization dedicated to promoting and preserving the state’s agricultural roots while supporting statewide education. Under her leadership, the State Fair has increased its annual scholarship program from $300,000 to $500,000. Each individual scholarship has been increased to $10,000. 

Smith, an active supporter of the S.C. FFA Association, has been honored with the State FFA Degree and the American FFA Degree primarily because she hosts the annual FFA Day at the State Fair. All FFA members and agricultural educators in the state are admitted free of charge. 

Dr. Tom Dobbins, Superintendent of the Livestock Department of the State Fair, has said, “FFA members showing livestock at the fair has increased substantially under her leadership”. The State Fair also hosts the annual State FFA Tractor Operation and Safety competition. 

The John W. Parris Agricultural Leadership Award was established more than twenty years ago by the SC Association of Agricultural Educators in honor of Mr. Parris of Columbia, SC. A graduate of Clemon University, Parris is a nationally recognized agricultural leader and conservation visionary with more than 65 years of professional service.