Expect fair skies in the Lowcountry today and every day until Nov. 3 — no matter what the weather forecast says. That's because the 51st Coastal Carolina Fair opens today for its annual 10-day run.

More than 200,000 people are expected to walk through the turnstiles at this year's fair, one of the biggest volunteer-run fairs in America. The Exchange Club of Charleston sponsors the event to raise money for Lowcountry nonprofit groups. Thanks to last year's fair, the club provided more than $560,000 in grants to various agencies.

When the gates open at 3 p.m. today at the Exchange Park on U.S. Highway 78 in Ladson, fairgoers will find a midway packed with more than 65 rides, as well as musical entertainment, carnival acts, games, fireworks, and exhibits of arts, crafts, flowers and photography.

And — as if we could forget! — there's the food: corn dogs, pizza, elephant ears, cotton candy, gyros, deep-fried candy bars, sausage dogs, popcorn, caramel apples and all the perennial favorites that are as much a part of the fair as the Ferris wheel.

See today's Preview section for a complete guide to this year's fair, and don't miss "Dude Food" in Saturday's People section for advice on how to graze your way through fair-food faves such as funnel cakes and fried Oreos. And check The Post and Courier daily through Nov. 3 for an update on each day's performers and activities.