Who doesn’t love the Florida State Fair?
From the livestock tents to the magical midway, circus acts and politicians, hot bands and local personalities — and food! Lots of food! And some of it is not good for you, which is, of course, the appeal of a state fair.
Florida State Fair showcases history, agriculture
While boasting “the largest midway in the USA,” the core purpose of any state fair is to showcase the state’s agricultural products, farms, ranches and livestock.
Established in 1904, the Florida’s State Fair wasn’t designated the state’s “official” fair by Florida legislators until 1975, setting the stage for its move from downtown Tampa seven miles east to its current 355-acre site at the intersection of Interstate 4 and U.S. 301.
A must-see for history buffs is Cracker Country, a living history museum that tells the story of the settlement of Florida during the 1800s by cattle ranchers, who got the name of “Crackers” by the sound of the whips they used to drive cattle from the Carolinas and Georgia into Florida.
The museum re-creates an 1890s rural Florida town with original buildings dating from 1870 to 1912, which were relocated to the fairgrounds from across the state. During the fair, costumed “interpreters” portray the daily living experience of Florida’s pioneers.
While many consider carnival rides and corndog concessions the highlights of the fair, the overriding mission is to showcase the state’s agriculture industry – from the cattle that still roam Florida’s prairies to the fruits and vegetables that serve as the nation’s winter garden. The best in the state are showcased in the fair’s pavilions.
The fair operates under the umbrella of the Florida Department of Agriculture, although the event is self-supporting and relies on income from entry fees, concerts, rides, sponsorships and vendors to survive.
Roving one-man band, lumberjack demonstrations, pig races and circus acts, complemented by “World Jumping Rope Champions” are the highlights of this year’s fair.
Entertainment is included in the price of admission.