Staff Report

The year was 1904 and the American Flag had 45 stars. Theodore Roosevelt was president and the average American earned 22 cents per hour. T.J. Laud-Brown, the manager of the Tampa Bay Hotel convinced city founders to bring the South Florida Fair to the grounds of the Tampa Bay Hotel. For the last 114 years, the Florida State Fair has been a favorite for locals and visitors alike. It has been held at its current location since 1977.

This year’s Fair will take place for 11 days from February 8-19.

In addition to thrilling rides on the Midway, it wouldn’t be the Florida State Fair without educational and entertaining attractions and performers. Where – for the price of a movie ticket – can you see a sea lion, a spectacular Big Top Circus, cheer on your favorite porker at the pig races, feed a giraffe from your own hand, enjoy acts from TV shows like America’s Got Talent, watch an amazing bear show, and be thrilled by the dogs of K-9s in Flight?

“We want both loyal patrons and those who have not yet visited the Fair to join us in making memories that will last a lifetime,” said Cheryl Flood, executive director of the Florida State Fair Authority. “The Sweets exhibit in particular will provide a fun and educational experience for all ages.”

Gates open Monday through Thursday at 10 a.m. Midway opens at 1 p.m. On Friday, Saturday, Sunday and President’s Day, gates open at 9 a.m. and Midway opens at 10 a.m.
The Fair is known for the latest and greatest fun food fare such as such as the Pizza Cone, Redneck Burger and Bacon Ice Cream.

Kids will have a great time at the new Florida Farm to School Arcade, a fun, interactive area where children will learn about Florida agricultural products.
Join legendary, award-winning classic country icon Leroy Van Dyke and country legends T.G. Sheppard, Moe Bandy and Rhonda Vincent as they take you on a retrospective, nostalgic journey featuring America’s golden country music during the Country Gold Tour on February 14. Two shows will take place; 11 a.m. and 2 p.m. For ticket information and pricing, please contact the Fair Box Office at 740-4640.

While visiting the Fair, don’t miss Cracker Country, a rural Florida living history museum where you feel like you have become part of the past. It is open during Fair hours; a great place to create memories that will last a lifetime with your children or grandchildren.

Hillsborough County’s Student Day at the Fair will be on Friday, February 9. Students enter free that day with a free Student Day ticket. Those in grades 6 -12 entering the Florida State Fairgrounds on Student Days after 6 p.m. must be accompanied by an adult, age 21 or older. An accompanying adult (maximum of one adult for each Student Day attendee) on Student Days shall be granted free admission when entering the Florida State Fairgrounds with a Student after 6 p.m. Starting 6 p.m., an adult may be allowed to accompany up to four Student Day attendees. 

Tickets for adults (ages 12 and over) are $9 in advance online and at participating Publix locations through February 7. Children are $5. Seniors ages 55 and older pay $7.
Advanced Anyday Armbands are available for $30 and weekday armbands cost $20 and are valid only on February 8, 12, 13, 14 and 15. The Florida State Fairgrounds is located at 4800 U.S. Hwy. 301 N. in Tampa.