By Kate Quesada

There is a lot more to this year’s Hillsborough County Fair, which opens its gates just east of Brandon on October 20, than the traditional midway rides and fried food.

“The County Fair offers an opportunity for residents of all ages to enter and display their talents,” said Janet Aversa, Hillsborough County Fair Board Member. “From cooking to rug hooking, and baking to picture taking, from sewing to growing and animals large and small.”

The fair, which is held at the county fair grounds on Sydney Washer Rd. in Dover, will be open October 20-23 and October 27-30 and boasts many events including talents shows, Battle of the Bands, a Harvest Queen Scholarship Contest, many livestock shows, baby pageants and contests in plants, photography, arts and more.

“There will be lots of blue ribbons and eye catching entries to reflect the talents of the folks in Hillsborough County,” said Aversa, who adds that new this year is an expanded 7,000 sq. ft. air conditioned area to display family living, arts and crafts, fine arts and photography. “Early entries are encouraged and forms are available on the Website.”

In addition to the livestock area, which features daily shows of youth and their animals, is an Agricultural Education Center that offers fair goers a chance to learn more about life on the farm and in the country.

“From baby chicks to the ‘milkable’ cow or the new scavenger hunt in the livestock area, it is education mixed with entertainment,” said Aversa.

Highlights of the paid Arena Events include Ranch Rodeos, truck, tractor and lawnmower pulls and a demolition derby in addition to the traditional midway rides, fair foods and livestock shows. Free entertainment in the midway includes Robinson’s Racing Pigs and Paddling’ Porkers, a fire fighter show and circus acts.

New to the fair this year in the Entertainment Tent is a Gospel Jam on Sunday afternoons which, according to Aversa, offers a mix of old-time hymns and contemporary music. The Entertainment Tent is also home to the Children’s Pageant, the Western Wear Contest and the County Fair Talent Showcase.

Tickets to the fair, which cost $7 for adults, $5 for students and $4 for seniors go on sale October 1 and can also be purchased at the gate. Arena events are an additional $10 per person.

For more information, visit www.hillsboroughcountyfair.com or call 737-FAIR. 215 Sydney Washer Rd., Dover.