By Libby Hopkins
What comes to mind when you think of the Florida State Fair? The rides and attractions, or maybe even the creative food creations like the deep fried Oreos. Sure, all those things and more come to mind when you think of the fair, but the fair offers so much more than fun times and amazing food. It offers education and help to its local community.
“The Florida State Fair showcases the best Florida has to offer in agriculture, commerce and industry,” said Executive Director of the Florida State Fair, Charles Pesano. “It provides a lot of educational opportunities for the fair-goers.”
Education is huge component to the fair. Cracker Country offers its visitors a chance to step back in time to see how Florida pioneers lived in the late 1900s.
“We have 20,000 visitors coming year-round to Cracker Country,” Pesano said. “They get to experience how life was for the first Floridians.”
In addition to Cracker Country, the fair also offers AgVentures. This program gives third graders a chance to touch, taste and see Florida agriculture in a fun-filled atmosphere. 4-H/Hillsborough County Extension, Hillsborough County Farm Bureau, Florida State Fair Authority and Florida’s Agriculture Commodity Organizations sponsor this program.
“We have seven to eight thousand third graders participate in the AgVenture program each year,” Pesano said. “This program teaches them how agriculture impacts their daily lives.”
Pesano and his family are residents of the Valrico area they strongly believe in giving back to the community. Pesano has been a board member for the past six years with The Brandon Foundation. He makes sure the foundation and the Florida State Fair helps those in need.
“Giving back is important to my wife, Phala, and I because we grew up in the Tampa area as kids and we’ve lived in Tampa for most of our lives,” Pesano said.
The Florida State Fair grounds offers its facilities to various county organizations for training exercises and programs. It also offers the local Hillsborough County schools a place to hold their high school graduations.
Visit www.floridastatefair.com. The fair will be held February 5-16 at the Florida State Fairgrounds located at 4802 N. U.S. Hwy. 301 in Tampa.