Florida State Fair Opens: What You Need To Know
All things Florida will be celebrated at the Florida State Fair starting this week in Tampa
The Florida State Fair kicks off Thursday and runs through Feb. 19 with Disney and Nickelodeon stars and the largest midway in North America. All active, reserve, retired military veterans, law enforcement, firemen and first responders with valid ID are honored at the fair on Thursday with free admission for them and three family members. The fair opens at 10 a.m.
The Fair will feature 110 rides including four large roller coasters and the largest traveling Ferris wheel in North America. Fair officials say there are new trends in food with creative concessionaires. This year’s new food items include BBQ pulled pork ribbon fries, catfish sundae, banana frenkel funnel cake and deep fried strawberry shortcake.
Four popular television actors from Disney and Nickelodeon shows appear on Feb. 10-11 in Teen Stars Live. Calum Worthy (‘Dez’ on Disney’s Austin & Ally), Kevin Quinn (‘Xander’ on Disney’s Bunk’d), Sky Katz (‘Tess’ on Disney’s Raven’s Home) and Addison Riecke (‘Nora’ on Nickelodeon’s The Thundermans) will all be appearing on The Coca-Cola Stage in the Entertainment Hall on Saturday, Feb. 10 and Sunday, Feb. 11 at 1 p.m. and 4 p.m.
New this year, the Fair boasts an extreme sports series with action-packed events such as BMX/FMX Freestyle Madness, Mini Monster Trucks on Feb. 9-10, lawn mower races on Feb. 17-18 and the Demolition Derby on Feb. 17.
The Fair’s music scene will showcase local and national acts. Seniors’ favorites Country Gold Tour, The River City Boys, Elvis Extravaganza National Championship and Central Florida Rat Pack will return to the stage again this year. Kazual, Dennis Lee, Vocal Trash, Fuel on Fire and Screaming Orphans will also perform.
The Fair also is introducing for the first time the Ninja Experience. A team of martial arts experts has been entertaining audiences from around the world with high-flying performances that showcase a display of extreme breaking, kicking, and flipping. There will be three free shows daily at 11:30 a.m., 3:30 p.m. and 6:30 p.m.
Teen Stars Live is a performance that features comedy, trivia, games, singing performances, prizes, secret show scoops and a chance to interact with some of the stars on kids’ TV shows. Fans will be given the opportunity to talk to the actors during a question-and-answer session and get a chance to be part of the show on stage.
Tickets for Teen Stars Live are included in the price of admission to the fair. After each show, there will
also be the opportunity for audience members to take part in a “VIP Autograph & Photo Session” where they can hang out, get autographs and take selfies with each of the stars. VIP Autograph & Photo Session tickets are limited and available for purchase by going to Teen Stars Live. Parents do not need to purchase a VIP ticket to accompany their child.
Located in the Florida Center, The PBS Kids Fun Zone is a large gathering of PBS Kids Characters. Kids can meet Clifford the Big Red Dog, Peg + Cat, Arthur, Curious George, and The Man in the Yellow Hat, Elmo, Jet Propulsion, Nature Cat, Buddy Dinosaur, Katerina Kittycat, Maya and Miguel, Word Girl, and the Super Why team.
Each day of the Fair, multiple characters will be available to meet fans. There will also be activities such as dance parties, book readings, and crafts. The PBS Kids Fun Zone is open at 10 a.m. – 6 p.m. daily in the Florida Center.
A variety of animals from around the Southeast will be judged and on display in the livestock barns including pygmy goats, dairy goats, sheep, and swine. In addition, there will be a Purebred Dog Exhibit, Rabbit & Poultry Show and Salute to Ag Exhibit, where students will see beef cows, dairy cows, chickens as well as a variety of other animals.
To end each day of the Fair, there will be a laser light show at 7 p.m. and 9 p.m.
The Fair schedule: Monday through Thursday, gates open at 10:00 a.m.; Midway opens at 1:00 p.m.; Friday, Saturday, Sunday and President’s Day, gates open at 9:00 a.m.; Midway opens at 10:00 a.m.
Admission tickets and ride armbands are on sale at participating Publix Super Markets in Hillsborough, Pinellas, Polk, Pasco and Hernando Counties.
The Florida State Fair, first held in Tampa in 1904, has become one of the largest events in the state, attracting more than 500,000 people during its 12-day run.
The Florida State Fairgrounds is located at 4802 U.S. 301 N. For more information, click floridastatefair.com.
By Don Johnson, Patch Staff | | Updated