By Michelle Colesanti

Where can you visit and find a one-of-a-kind carousel made entirely from balloons? This special exhibit will be at the 2015 Florida State Fair, which takes place from Thursday, February 5 through Monday, February 16 at the Florida State Fairgrounds in Tampa. Artists will use more than 10,000 balloons of all shapes and sizes to create the massive balloon sculpture, which will stand approximately 25 ft. wide and 15 ft. tall. Each day, fairgoers can visit the Florida Center to see the daily progress of the artistry. The Fair will also be home to 6,000 animals and livestock with an expanded agricultural area, fair food, arts and crafts, and other entertainment throughout the 12 days.

There will be free concerts ranging from headliner, The Charlie Daniels Band to the Fifth Dimension, and Beatlemania Live. Most concerts are free with gate admission. The popular Country Gold Tour will include an additional concert on Tuesday and Wednesday, February 10 and 11 featuring a separate lineup of artists for each show. Country stars Leroy Van Dyke, Jim Ed Brown, Helen Cornelius and Billy Dean take the stage on February 10, followed by a concert with Moe Bandy, Eddy Raven, Johnny Lee and Leroy Van Dyke on February 11.

This year, two special key exhibits will be featured. The Wall That Heals, a traveling scale replica of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Wall, debuts opening day and will be on display through Monday, February 9. The 9/11, Never Forget Traveling Museum, honoring all those who sacrificed during the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, launches on Tuesday, February 10. Guest rescuers from the New York City Fire Department will be on hand to share their first-hand accounts.

More than 100 thrilling rides will excite fairgoers, who will notice a new look and feel, with a one-of-a-kind midway created exclusively for the Florida State Fair. Any Day Ride Armbands cost $30 in advance and are valid for any one day of the Fair during Midway open to close. Any Day Armband is not valid before 3 p.m. on February 5, 9, 10, 11, 12 and 13.

Advance tickets ($9 adults and $7 for seniors on select days, and $5 for children ages 6-11) are now available and can be purchased at Children under 5 are free. All active, reserve or retired military veterans, law enforcement, firefighters and first responders will be honored with free admission (with valid identification) as part of Heroes Days on Thursday, February 5 and Monday, February 16.

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Michelle Colesanti
Michelle has been with the Osprey Observer for almost nine years, and her current position is Assignment Editor. She resides in Bloomingdale with her husband Phil, two sons, Philip and Matthew, and Tigger the cat.