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The Central Florida Fair, one of the top five fairs in the Sunshine State and a winter staple since 1910, is returning to the Central Florida Fairgrounds and Expo Park (4603 W. Colonial Dr., Orlando) starting Thursday, February 26. The fair will run for 11 days, ending on Sunday, March 8.Central-Fair_copy2

There will be a lot to do at the Fair when it arrives. In addition to the over 100 rides provided by Wade Shows, there will be 3,000 handmade items for sale in over 200 categories; over 100 entertainment acts, featuring over 800 singers, dancers and musicians; great food and drinks and daily cooking demonstrations on the kitchen stage; and horticulture, livestock, and the Florida 4-H organization.

Some of the fun rides offered at the Central Florida Fair include the Central-Fair_copyFireball, which spins passengers every which way over 60 feet above the ground; the Cliff Hanger, which simulates the experience of hang gliding; the Ring of Fire, which flips passengers upside down at fast speeds in both directions; and rides you love from when you were a kid, such as the Yo-Yo and the Zipper. There is even a zip line course for the young and the young-at-heart!

Don’t forget the delicious food that makes the fair experience worthwhile. Munch on cotton candy, funnel cakes or elephant ears while you scope out your main dish. Who doesn’t loveCentral-Fair_copy3 barbecue cooked to order, or Italian favorites like pizza? In addition to those foods, the Central Florida Fair will be hosting a chili cook-off on Saturday, March 7 at 2 p.m. and a hot and cold appetizer competition on Sunday, March 8 at noon. You might be able to taste some of these culinary delights soon after the judges declare winners!

There are quite a few notable entertainment headliners performing throughout the 11-day fair. On Friday, February 27, Kevin Martin from Candlebox will be performing an all-acoustic show on the Miller Lite Stage starting at 7:30 p.m. On Friday, March 6, rapper Ginuwine will be performing on the Miller Lite Stage, also starting at 7:30 p.m. Finally, country music singer James Otto will close out the headlining performances on the Miller Lite Stage at 7:30 p.m. on Saturday, March 7.

Interested in going to the Central Florida Fair? Consider Tuesday, March 3, because that night is the fair’s gay day. The fair’s opening hours that day are 4 p.m. to 11 p.m. and you can get free gate entry if you show the workers at the gate the fair advertisement featured in this week’s magazine (either a print copy or on your phone). Unlimited ride wristbands are on sale for $25 that day.

Tickets can be purchased online or at the fairgrounds. Online specials at centrafloridafair.com include the MegaPass, which gives the ticketholder one day admission and one ride wristband. The price is $25 ($35 weekdays and $40 weekends if purchased at the fairgrounds). Advance gate admission prices are $8 for adults ($10 if purchased at the fairgrounds). The advance ride wristband, which entitles people to unlimited rides on most of the fair’s rides, is $20 online, which is up to a $10 savings on the gate price. There are special $2 rides at the Midway on Tuesday, March 3, and college students can get in to the fair for free with their student IDs on Wednesday, March 4.

The hours of operation at the Central Florida Fair are 4 p.m. to 11 p.m. on February 26 and 27, 10 a.m. to midnight on February 28, 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. on March 1, 4 p.m. to 11 p.m. from March 2-6, 10 a.m. to 11 p.m. on March 7 and 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. on March 8.

Sponsors of the Central Florida Fair include Miller Lite, Orlando Weekly, Club Wyndham, Florida Distributing Company, GEICO, CNS Healthcare, Red Roof Inn, Sabal Hotels, Fairfield Inn and Suites, and Minuteman Press.

For more information on the Central Florida Fair, visit centralfloridafair.com, or call (407) 295-3247.