Fun at the Florida State Fair

18 02 2013


One thing I learned when I moved to Florida was that February is fair season! I work with teachers from across the state, some of whom are Agriculture teachers, who told me all about the Florida State Fair. Many of them have a vested interest in the fair since their students are showing their hogs and competing in many of the competitions.

Growing up in small beach town, I didn’t know anyone that owned cattle or showed their rabbits at the fair. When I went to college, I was fascinated when my college roommate told me she owned chickens, and they competed in competitions. Talk about a different world!

Since I missed the fair last year, I made a point to make it this year. On Friday, I drove over to the fairgrounds with my friend Chuck, who had also been itching to go. We paid our $10 to get in and immediately upon entering, we were overtaken by the sights and sounds that are the fair. WOW there was a LOT going on!


I knew what I was most looking forward to: the food! Deep fried everything, isn’t that what fairs are all about? I hadn’t eaten dinner yet so I was itching for some typical fair food. I opted to go with a sausage and pepper sandwich and to come back for the sweets later.



As I ate, Chuck and I walked around, checking out all of the different ride options. The rides were low on my list of priorities for the fair, but I figured that I couldn’t leave without riding just one. I figured that hopping on one of the twisty turny flipping rides so soon after eating dinner probably wasn’t a good idea, so we opted to walk around and go check out the animals while my food settled.

On our way, we played a quick game of skeeball. Gosh I love that game!


When we came across the first tent of animals, I was a little confused:






A giraffe? They bring these animals to the fair? I don’t think the giraffe was too keen on being there- he blew a snot rocket at the crowd and completely scattered the gawking onlookers. It was pretty funny!

These weren’t the competition animals, so we spent enough time for me to grab a photo with some goats before moving on.




Soon, we came across the section I had been anxious to see:




The whole culture of the fair and showing animals is something that is so completely foreign to me, which is why I was really looking forward to seeing this part of the fair. It is just amazing to me that kids in middle and high school raise these large animals to show them at the fair. And it’s not just about the showy part of it- the kids learn all about genetics and how to breed particular animals for particular traits. I have a much greater appreciation for farmers and cattlemen after my minimal exposure to the world of Agriculture.

First, we stopped at the poultry barn. There were rows and rows of different chickens. Who knew there were so many different kinds?? Some were big, some were small, some were colorful, some were funny looking,  some were very “normal” looking, and some were (dare I say?) really pretty!


They had held the competitions earlier in the week, so all of the prized birds were in a special section for all to see. This guy was one of them. What a funny looking bird!


This guy didn’t appear to be a winner, but wow! Is it possible to say something is both really beautiful and really ugly all at the same time?



Around the perimeter of the room, there were some kids showing off their birds. There was even a place I could hold a little chick! So cute!


After the birds, I was ready to see the livestock! We followed our noses and quickly stumbled upon the cows. There were rows and rows of cows, and again I learned that there are many different breeds of cows.




I was shocked by how large some of them were- I posed with this one, whose legs were almost as tall as I am, and I’m 5’7″!! IMG_6046


When our noses had had enough, we headed back out to go on a few rides! Chuck had his eye on this ride that swung like a pendulum, while spinning the passengers around in a circle. IMG_6052


O. M. G. I screamed like a little girl! Back and forth and around and around. Yikes! I was really dizzy when I got off and even had some trouble walking straight! Despite that, the ride was pretty fun.

We had a few more tickets to use up, so when we spotted that the Tilt a Whirl required the exact amount of tickets we had left, we knew it was meant to be.

Tilt A Whirl


Did you know that the iconic Tilt A Whirl was invented in 1926 by Herbert W. Sellner? How crazy would it be to say “You know such and such ride? Yeah, I invented that!”

The ride was definitely as fun as I remembered it to be, until the last 15 seconds. Around and around and around we spun and I got ridiculously dizzy. My stomach was definitely churning, but I was able to walk it off. Sheesh. I think I’m definitely getting older- I can’t take those rides like I used to!

I knew exactly what would be the perfect ending to my night- a fresh made Amish doughnut, whose tantalizing smell teased my me when we walked into the fair.


The warm glazed doughnut hit the spot! I left with a happy belly for sure!

I had a fun time at the fair and I’m really glad I went. I am certainly most fascinated by the showing of the animals, because it is so outside of my little reality. I don’t think that I’d go fair hopping every weekend, but once a year, it’s a fun little trip and a chance for me to learn a little about a different part of American culture. See ya next year, Florida State Fair!