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Florida State Fairgrounds, Tampa

The 111th annual Florida State Fair is coming February 5-16, and tens of thousands of people will be packing the Florida State Fairgrounds (4800 US Hwy. 301 N.), near the Interstate 4/Interstate 75 interchange in Tampa, in search of thrilling rides, delicious food, great entertainment and a whole lot of fun.Fair_copy1

The Florida State Fair is unique for many reasons. It’s the first state fair in the United States this year, meaning people are going to be keeping an eye on it for fun new rides that might pop up at other state fairs. The Florida State Fair does have reason to brag in this department, since it is home to the largest independent midway in the country, as well as the largest traveling roller coaster in North America. In addition, over 110 rides and amusements are on offer for all ages, ranging from tall Ferris wheels, providing great views of the fairgrounds and the surrounding area, to fast rides like the Zipper and roller coasters that will make your heart skip a beat.

Apart from the rides, there are many exhibits that will be returning to the fairgrounds this year, as well as a new addition. The Florida 4-H Hall will showcase the state’s most dedicated farmers with their farm animals, and they will also host a charity fashion show. The Agribusiness Hall of Fame shows people what it’s like to live on a Florida farm today, while Cracker Country takes people back to the Florida of the 1800s, with exhibits on how Florida’s early settlers took care of the home and made their livelihoods from the land. Finally, the Vietnam War Memorial is a new addition to the fair this year. The traveling exhibit is half the size of the Memorial in Washington D.C. and includes a portion on the history of the War and its after-effects on veterans.

Fair_copy2The live entertainment is always a highlight of the Florida State Fair, and this year three different headlining acts will be performing on different days. The first group will be performing on February 10 and 11. Leroy Van Dyke’s Country Gold Tour will be featuring singers such as Helen Cornelius, Billy Dean, and Jim Ed Brown (February 10), as well as Eddy Raven, Johnny Lee, and Moe Bandy (February 11). On February 13, the much-loved R&B and soul group The Fifth Dimension will be taking the main stage for a free concert. Then on the fair’s last day, February 16, The Charlie Daniels Band will be playing a free concert as well.

Looking for some fun and free things to do at the fairgrounds during the state fair? There are many fun animal exhibits, such as horse shows, an exotic petting zoo, Jack Russell terrier races, an alligator show, dog shows, and the famous Hollywood racing pigs. In addition to The Fifth Dimension and The Charlie Daniels Band, who are both putting on free concerts, there are other entertainment acts who will be presenting shows with free admission as well. These include the Brown Entertainment High Dive, Chris Mabrey (the Master of Comedy Hypnosis), Beatlemania, the Elvis Extravaganza National Finals, and Susie McEntire.Fair_copy3

Tickets can be bought online or at the fairgrounds. Ticket pricing is as follows: $9 for adult admission if bought online, $11 if bought at the fairgrounds Monday-Friday and $13 if bought at the fairgrounds Saturday-Sunday. Tickets for 55+ are $7 if bought online, $9 at the fairgrounds (only on Senior Days, February 9-12; regular adult admission prices apply for any other day). If you’re interested in buying the any day ride armband, the price is $30 online and $35 at the fairgrounds, and the armband entitles you to unlimited rides for one specific day (not before 3 p.m. on February 5 or 9-13). If you want a cheaper way to ride all the rides, the weekday after 5 p.m. armband sells for $20 online and $25 at the fairgrounds (valid for the dates February 5 and 9-12 after 5 p.m.). Go to floridastatefair.com for your online ticket purchasing needs.

The 111th Florida State Fair is sponsored in part by Mosaic, LazyDays RVs, Roadmaster Drivers School, the Tampa Bay Times, Spa Manufacturers, Everglades Farm Equipment, Jeffrey Allen Golf Carts, Florida Dairy Farmers, Budweiser, The Tampa Tribune, and Fresh Florida Orange Juice.

For more information on the Florida State Fair, visit floridastatefair.com. “Like” them on Facebook by going to facebook.com/floridastatefairgrounds.