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Arts / Culture

Florida State Fair 2020: What To Know Before You Go

The Florida State fairgrounds begins its transformation from empty lots to bustling carnival rides and games.
Thomas Iacobucci/WUSF Public Media
The Florida State fairgrounds begins its transformation from empty lots to bustling carnival rides and games. The Fair will start its 12-day run on Feb. 6.

If you’re itching for a chance to see cars plow into each other, ride your first Ferris wheel or feel confused about why your ice cream is spicy, you’re in luck.

The Florida State Fair is set to open Thursday, Feb. 6, and with it comes another 12-day run of Frankenstein-esque foods, live music, as well as an array of exhibits and competitions.

With more than 450,000 attendees expected, it may worth brushing up on what to keep in mind before heading to the fairgrounds.

Luckily, we have you covered.

When do the lights come on?

  • Starting Feb. 6, the gates will open Monday through Thursday at 10 a.m. with the Midway opening at 1 p.m. except for President’s Day (Feb. 17).
  • Weekends and President’s Day: Both the gates and Midway will open at 9 a.m.

Travel

  • For starters, the fairgrounds are located at 4800 U.S. Hwy. 301 N. Parking is free.
  • As with any major city, be wary of traffic and plan to get to the fairgrounds early or in the late afternoon, especially on weekends.
  • If you get a flat tire, need a jump-start or you’re locked out of your car, Stepp’s Towing Service offers complimentary assistance on the fairgrounds.

Tickets and offers

  • As usual, tickets can be purchased at participating Publix stores and on the fair’s website, or by calling (813) 621-7821. Basic admission is $9 for adults, $5 for children ages 6 through 11, and $7 for those 55 and older.
  • Regular tickets allow folks to access most shows, entertainment and exhibits. Tickets and armbands for rides and games must be purchased separately.
  • On Feb. 17, students in Pinellas, Pasco, Polk, Hardee, Manatee and other surrounding Florida counties get in free to the fair. To enter, students must show a student I.D. or report card at the gate. All students must be accompanied by an adult over the age of 21 with a government-issued ID after 6 p.m.
  • On Feb. 11, the fair is offering $2 Tuesday with admission, select rides, games and food samples all costing $2 after 2 p.m.
  • College students in the Tampa Bay area can get free admission on Feb. 13 after 5 p.m. with a valid college or university ID.
  • The final day of the fair, Feb. 17, will be “Fair Cares for the Hungry Day.” By donating two non-perishable food items, guests can get $5 admission before 6 p.m.

What’s new?

  • The fair is adding a season pass, giving dedicated guests the opportunity to get unlimited visits and rides. The passes are sold exclusively at participating Publix stores.
  • The inaugural Fair Foodie Crawl is open to ages 21 and up and takes place Feb. 13 at 5 p.m. Participants will be able to try samples from different vendors before voting on their top vendor. Registration is $25.
  • Need to burn off some of those calories from the foodie crawl or from trying out all the new fair food additions? On Feb. 15, the fair is hosting the Deep Fried Dash fun run and, for the brave, 5k. The event kicks off at 7 a.m. Tickets for the fun run and 5k are $28 and $35, respectively.

Food: deep fried and the like

  • This year, more than a dozen new foods will be offered by vendors. The calorie-packed ensemble ranges from jalapeno-chocolate ice cream to a peanut butter ramen burger. To see an in-depth list of the gastronomic anomalies, click here.

Entertainment

  • Have you ever thought to yourself, “Hmm, I really want to see pigs race.” Well, you’re in luck because the fair will feature the Hollywood Racing Pigs – apparently, people are looking forward to the matchup against the “Notorious P.I.G.” and “Kim Kardashi-ham.”
  • In “Cracker Country,” guests are transported to 19th century Florida in what has been dubbed a “living history museum.” Check out the fair’s exhibit page to find out more.
  • There are plenty of other events for those chasing vicarious adrenaline rushes or itching to look at cute animals. Find the full list and event schedule here.