“Are you sure you want to wear those shoes?” My husband asked as I pranced out of the house with my favorite black flats.
“Yeah! I’ll be fine!” These are words I would soon regret towards the end of the night at the Florida State Fair. My feet were hurting so bad, I almost wanted to cut the night short but my children were having such a good time – I suffered my way through it.
Why did my feet hurt? Because the Florida State Fair is HUUUGGE! I told my husband as the night ended, “Who knew this fair would be so big!” He responded with, “Well, you can’t have a name like ‘Florida State’ in the title and be small. People travel from all over the country to come to this fair.”
He was right. The Florida State Fair was huge. It’s held at the Florida State Fairgrounds that is 330 acres. No wonder why my feet were sore. Over the course of 12 days, February 8 – 19, the Florida State Fair attracts up to 500,000 people.
It was my first time at this fair so I didn’t know what to expect. I thought it would be another fair with fast rides and fried food. I was impressed with the amount of variety this fair had.
New Food – Of course they had french fries, chicken tenders, and turkey legs. I was surprised to see:
- the Pizza Cone
- Redneck Burger
- Bacon Ice Cream
- Fried avocado
- Bacon wrapped jalapenos
- Banana Fenkle funnel cakes
- Bacon cheeseburgers chompers
- Catfish sundae
- Chicken and waffle pizza,
- Deep fried strawberry shortcake
- and quite a few more. Check them out here
Rides and more rides – Not only could my 10 and 12-year old enjoy rides they’ve never seen before, but my 5 years old also had many options to choose from. There were over 110 rides, divided by a Thrill Zone, Kid Zone and the Family Zone.
The best part of the fair to me was easy to access to the rides. We actually went on a Tuesday night and the crowd was so light that we never had to wait in lines. We were able to ride rides multiple times. I know this will not be the case if you go on a weekend. What I didn’t like was that we missed most of the shows because they ended at 6 pm. We arrived right before 6 pm so we had to choose which show we would see.
We managed to catch the Hollywood Racing Pigs. My children and I were also selected as participating pig wranglers (you had to watch my IG stories to see us trying to motivate these pigs to run!)
Here are a few shows that we missed:
- The Hollywood Circus with horse shows, clowns, and aerial entertainers.
- Fly the original Batcopter! Now, most kids have no idea what this is, but I bet you they won’t forget the experience. It’s piloted by AirShow Pilot Capt. Eugene A. Nock, A.T.P.
- Watch cows give birth to calves in the mooternity ward. Ummm, that’s different.
- Concerts & Demolition Derby.
- Enjoy watching the sea lions, canines and bears perform.
Florida weather is a gift. It’s beautiful all year long, which is why having the fair February is perfect. With this fair being the first national fair of 2018, they go big or go home. The first Florida State Fair was 1904 and shows no signs of slowing down.
Here are a few tips to having the best experience when you attend this fair:
- Get there early. Unless you go during the week, when foot traffic is light – you want to get there with plenty of time to walk around and experience everything. The location is the Florida State Fairgrounds 4802 U.S. 301 N, Tampa with free parking!
- Keep an eye on your children. I loved that they have the rule students in grades 6 through 12 must be accompanied by an adult 21 and older after 6 p.m. That means you won’t have a lot of teenagers running around all willy nilly! Children are with their parents.
- Check out the website for deals. Depending on the day you desire to go, you might be able to get a deal on entry tickets. They give military discounts, coke can discounts, $5 entry days and more. Check http://www.floridastatefair.com/ to see everything.
- Map out your experience. They have animal exhibits, entertainment shows, rides, food and fun zones. If you check out the daily event calendar, you can make sure you catch all of the things that interest you and your family the most.
My children were still begging to stay and ride as we made our way to the exit. The night we went, the fair closed at 10 pm. I knew getting my children up the next day would be a challenge but I also wanted them to enjoy their experience.
I finally admitted to my husband that he was right. I wore the wrong shoes. I didn’t want to ruin their experience and start complaining. However, as we headed towards the exit and I started to limp when I walked, I could no longer play it off.
Wear adequate walking shoes with a cute fanny pack. Allow yourself to be comfy and hands-free as much as you can.
Get all of the information at www.FloridaStateFair.com. The dates for 2019 (Feb 7-18) have already been announced.