In its 109th year, the Florida State Fair kicks off this Thursday, February 7 and continues through Monday, February 18. This year’s theme is “Discover the Fun” and that will be easy to do with a full schedule of entertainment, rides, livestock exhibits, and all of that delicious fair food.
Located in Tampa at the state fairgrounds, the Florida State Fair offers twelve days of shows, music, rides, food, and shopping. Opening day is Heroes Day where active, reserved, and retired military as well as law enforcement, firefighters, and first responders get in free with proper identification.
Read on to find out the highlights of this year’s fair!
Florida State Fair Entertainment
The Florida State Fair introduces a concert series this year which features nationally recognized performers. Some of the big names on the fair lineup are LeAnn Rimes, Starship featuring Mickey Thomas, the Bellamy Brothers, and the Gatlin Brothers, just to name a few. The concerts are held in Entertainment Hall and are not included in the general admission price for the fair. Performances begin at 7:30p.m. For a full listing of Florida State Fair concert performers, dates, and ticket prices click here.
Other premier special events are slated for this year’s fair including a celebration of the 500th anniversary of Ponce De Leon’s arrival in Florida, traveling exhibits featuring Florida agriculture and its history, as well as the Florida Cattleman’s Association exhibit highlighting its centuries of traditions at the fair. Keep an eye out for various entertainers as they make their way throughout the fair. Elvis Presley is known to make an appearance.
Let’s not forget the stars of the fair, the livestock. With over 7,000 animals, there are livestock exhibits and contests in just about every category. Kids especially love the petting zoo. Also, be sure to stop by the Mooternity Ward and see if there are any live births going on. Bring your camera!
Florida State Fair Rides
Thrill-seekers and adrenaline junkies have more than 70 rides to choose from on the midway. Newly featured this year are the Air Race, Big Bamboo House, Fun Factory, and Sky Flyer.
The Air Race centers around a control tower and offers fair-goers an airplane ride they’ll not soon forget. The Big Bamboo Fun House is two stories of rolling barrels, moving walkways, and a suspension bridge. The Fun Factory is a ride that whirls you up, down, and all around. The Sky Flyer is a chair ride that provides amazing views of the fairgrounds. All of the rides are sure-to-please whether you’re seeking thrilling speed, harrowing heights, twists and turns, amazing views, or all of the above.
Florida State Fair Food
Last but certainly not least, there is the fair food. You’ll find all of the traditional favorites here in addition to some newcomers this year.
How adventurous are you and your taste buds? Come hungry and be ready to try some one-of-a-kind treats like the grilled meatloaf sundae. In addition to traditional funnel cakes, try a new twist on this fair favorite and opt for a red velvet funnel cake. For those with a hearty appetite, be on the lookout for the Redneck Burger. It’s a beef patty topped with all the fixings including cheese, bacon, fried bologna, baked beans, and potato sticks. Wow!
If it can be fried, battered and put on a stick, you’ll probably find it here. (We’d love to hear about some of your most interesting food experiences at the fair, so feel free to tell us about them in our comment section.) It seems impossible that you’d go home hungry.
Additional Fair Information
There’s too much to cover about the fair here in this blog, but you can visit the Florida State Fair’s website for more information. Advance admission tickets give fair-goers a bit of a discount and can be purchased until February 6. Parking is free, and the rides can be paid for individually or collectively with a Midway Ride Armband purchase. As mentioned earlier, concert performances are ticketed separately and do not include entry into the fair. Click here for Florida State Fair pricing and ticketing information.
Where to Stay
Just a short drive from Tampa, Indian Rocks Beach and Indian Shores offer premier vacation rentals in close proximity to all of the Gulf Coast sights and events. Opt to stay on a pristine barrier island surrounded by the warm, clear waters of the Gulf of Mexico. Choose the amenities to suit your specific needs and make your Gulf Coast vacation complete.
We hope to see you in our towns and on our shorelines in the very near future. Happy February!
*Photos courtesy of the Florida State Fair