I hope you have already marked the dates in your calendar for the 2020 Florida State Fair. After all, it’s one of the oldest and most outstanding fairs in the country.
The Florida State Fair, which is held in Tampa from February 6-17 2020, will be celebrating its 116th birthday. I am excited to take you on a complete guide of how to enjoy the entertainment, the food, and the culture of this annual Florida event.
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What to Expect at Florida State Fair
You should be asking yourself what not to expect!
First off, you can expect it to be bigger, grander, more entertaining with great rides, food, entertainment, and everything that the Florida State Fair is known for.
The 12-day extravaganza which started in 1904 attracts over 500,000 visitors with Florida residents exhibiting their skills in crafts, agriculture, and horticulture.
You can also find participants applauded for owning things such as the best bull or most beautiful quilt. That’s the tradition that the fair still celebrates and nurtures on this very day!
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Fun Things to Do at The Florida State Fair
There are plenty of things you can do at no additional cost. The free shows, exhibits, expo area, and equestrian demonstrations all draw in huge crowds and are all the perfect places to start your trip off at the fair in Tampa.
There are a few attractions that draw people to this annual event. One of the most popular attractions at the Florida State Fair is the largest portable Ferris Wheel in North America called the Midway Sky Eye.
So, you’ll definitely want to experience this ride.
The Midway at the Florida State Fair
Adventure is part of the Tampa fair with the Midway offering a variety of rides and unique experiences to enjoy.
If you did not know, Wade Show provides all the rides for the Florida State Fair in Tampa.
What Rides are at the Florida State Fair?
In addition to the Ferris Wheel, there are other thrilling rides like the Wipe Out, Spider, Sizzler, the Typhoon, the Alpine Bobs and so much more for an extra dose of fun at the Florida State Fair.
Florida State Fair rides are divided into four types:
There are more than 100 rides in which many are family-friendly, but be sure to review the height requirements and the number of tickets needed for each ride here to help you make the most of your time and money.
Fun Fact: The Florida State Fair has the largest ride Midway in the U.S.A.
Florida State Fair Food
Food is also another notable feature that you’ll want to participate in on your trip to the Florida State Fair.
From traditional dishes to the latest fusion food, expect the best here. There are some age-old favorites like candies, kettle corn, and fried Oreos.
However, what makes people look forward to the fair are the crazy dishes that appear here.
You’ll be able to treat both your eyes and your taste buds with some the tastiest and weirdest dishes like:
- Krispy Kreme Doughnut Burger
- Pizza cone
- Deep-fried Twinkie
- Bacon ice cream
- Deep-fried strawberry shortcake
- SurfNTurf Sundae
- Chicken and Waffle Pizza
- Giant Mozzarella Stick
- Chocolate covered bacon
- Red Beans and Rice Funnel Cake
Over the years, people raved about the giant mozzarella cheese stick, the red beans and rice funnel cake, the rainbow grilled cheese, and the Amish doughnut.
The items are sinfully delightful and full of calories that “don’t count” at the fair!
After all, the electrifying ambiance will make you forget all about the pounds you may be packing on during your visit.
Now, isn’t your mouth watering?
Just wait for the fair to begin and you’ll be in for quite the foodie adventure!
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Check out the Cracker Country to learn interesting information on the rural history of Florida. The museum takes you back a few centuries and lets you have a glimpse of life in the state during the 1800s.
There are also a few original buildings that date back from the late 1800s to the early 1900s.
This Tampa museum will be open all 12 days of the state fair.
Agriculture and Exhibitions
If you’re interested in art and culture, there are all types craft exhibitions and competitions through the fair.
You can see not only how Floridians have preserved their heritage in these shows, but you can see the many submissions of students around the state.
I can remember being in school and hoping that my science or history project would win so that my work would be featured in the Lake County Fair.
This is probably why I love browsing the student competition section of the exhibition.
Here are a few competitions to be on the lookout for:
- Wine & Juice
- Art Portfolio
The agribusiness demonstrations are also very popular at the Florida State Fair.
Be it cattle or the fruits and veggies grown in the area, the fair allows you to see the best of what the state offers.
Did you know that every year, more than 6,000 animals are brought here for the exhibits?
At the Florida State Fair, you’ll be able to get close to some of the most popular livestock of the state.
So, don’t forget to visit the goat and sheep tent and also the small animal show ring which are all included with your admission ticket.
Hipster Power Tip: If you are a dog lover, you’ll want to check out the small furry puppies inside the pure-bred dog tent. You may also be able to play with some rescued dogs too.
A cool thing about the Florida State Fair is the variety of entertainment that’s included with your admission ticket.
Shows such as the Demolition Derby, the Sea Lion Splash, and the Showcase Community Stage which features talent from all over Florida.
NEW for 2020: Be sure to participate in the Deep Fried Dash which is the first 5K run that will happen on February 15, 2020. You can learn more about it on the official state fair website.
Florida State Fair Tickets
Now that we know what to expect from this state fair, let’s go through the how much it will be for you to visit.
Tickets for the Florida State Fair
- Adult Ticket: $11 from Monday through Thursday at the gate and $13 on Friday, Saturday and Sunday at the gate
- Child (Ages 6-11): $6 from Monday through Thursday at the gate and $7 on Friday, Saturday and Sunday at the gate
- Senior (Age 55 and older): $9 at gate on select days
Please note that the final 2020 prices are still pending. You can visit the official Florida State Fair website to purchase your tickets. Tickets go on sale December 1, 2019.
Armband Prices at the Florida State Fair
Ride armbands are excellent way for you to enjoy yourself at the fair. Each armband allows unlimited rides at a small cost.
- Any Day Ride Armband: $35 at gate on select days
- Gold Access Armband: You can upgrade your armband to skip the lines on midway rides for $15
Where to find discount Florida State Fair tickets?
You can get a deal on tickets by buying them in advanced on the state fair website (starting December 1st) or at participating Publix stores (starting January 2nd).
There are also certain days where you can get a discount on the tickets such as:
- Hero’s Day (February 6th)
- Family Day (February 7th)
- Senoriffic Day (February 10th, 11th, 12th, 13th)
- $2 Tuesday (February 11th)
- College Night (February 13th)
- Date Night Deal (February 14th)
You can get more information on the Florida State Fair discount tickets here.
13 Florida State Fair Tips and Tricks to Know Before You Go
- Arrive early
- Try to go on a weekday in the early part of the day to beat the crowds
- Pack only your essentials (water, sunscreen, sunglasses, a hat, hand sanitizer, wet wipes, small book bag to carry your items, phone)
- Have a game plan in mind so that you can do all of your favorite rides and eat all of your favorite treats
- Get a ride armband to save money
- Have a set budget before you get to the fair
- Visit the exhibition hall to see all of the unique displays
- Pace yourself and take breaks when needed
- Bring Cash
- Remember to be safe and stay on alert (Florida State Fair does allow visitors to enter with a valid concealed weapons permit, pursuant to Chapter 790, Florida Statutes)
- Be wary of the fun houses that promise you outlandish things such as a lady with a snake head 🙂 (although I have been tricked into to seeing this on multiple occasions, I still think it’s fun and hilarious)
- Make time to see all the local talent and fun animal shows at the Florida State Fair
- Stop by the citrus booth to make your own orange juice!
Frequently Asked Questions
In order to make sure that you’ll have a memorable experience at the Florida State Fair, I’ve put together a few FAQs to help you out for your visit.
Where is the fair held?
The fair is held at the Florida State Fairgrounds, 4800 U.S. Highway 301 N. in Tampa.
To make it easier for you to understand, the location of the fair is at the intersection of Interstate 4 and U.S. Highway 301 in Hillsborough County.
What are the hours for the Florida State Fair?
The fair is open from 10.00 a.m. until 10.00 p.m. each day and you have to buy tickets for admission.
How much does it cost to park at the Florida State Fair?
Parking is free at the fair with multiple locations surrounding the fairgrounds. I usually park on the side facing Highway 301 in the area that’s closest to Cracker Country.
When is the Florida State Fair?
As mentioned earlier, the fair will take place from February 6 – 17, 2020 at the Florida State Fairgrounds in Tampa.
What are the best things to do in Tampa?
Tampa is one of my favorite cities and for good reasons. There are activities for everyone to do in this Florida town that has it all. Nightlife, city life, beach life, and country living.
You’ll be able to find something fun to do, but a few of my favorite activities to do in Tampa are:
- Busch Gardens Theme Park (one of my favorite theme parks in Florida)
- The Florida Aquarium
- Museum of Science and Industry
- Tampa’s Lowry Park Zoo
- Downtown St. Pete for shopping
- Ybor City for nightlife, entertainment, and dining
- Any one of the beautiful beaches
Hipster Power Tip: The Tampa Bay CityPASS allows you to visit the top attractions for one low cost and includes: Busch Gardens® Tampa, The Florida Aquarium, Tampa’s Lowry Park Zoo, Clearwater Marine Aquarium and Chihuly Collection presented by the Morean Arts Center OR Museum of Science & Industry (MOSI).
My Trip Report to the Florida State Fair
The day was like one of the many perfect weekend days that Florida is known for.
It was also a day for me to indulge into the smells of fried food heaven, the hackling Midway gaming men, the sunshine state’s agricultural world, the local art, and the quickly put together rides that are staples of the Florida State Fair.
I started out in my usual walking route from the Gate 2 entrance and headed into the Florida Living Center. This area showcased student artwork, aquaculture, domestic talents, and school projects just to name a few.
It was another solo trip for me, but when you’re an amusement park fan who waits year round for this occasion, you somehow always feel as if you’re in the company of family.
Not to mention the picturesque weather that enhanced the colorful blends of reds, blues, and yellows with the whimsical soundtrack and carnival cuisine smells that flooded the grounds.
These little things are so special to me and things that I love to see at fairs and carnivals throughout the country.
The Florida Forest Discovery Center was one of my favorite areas. Maybe it’s the nerdy gal in me who is a sucker for an amusement park adventure with a dose of learning on the side.
If you can recall the days of museum field trips as a kid, then you’d be right next to me trying to read what a High Wheeler is and when’s the next photo op with Smokey the Bear.
No day would be complete without the FOOD!
The over fried, overpriced, deliciously unhealthy fair food that is famous for such creations as the Krispy Kreme Doughnut Burger, deep fried butter, and chocolate covered bacon.
Well I wasn’t trying any of those this year not only because my trainer would have a cow, literally, but because I got sick the last time I tried the Krispy Kreme Burger.
My stomach is not built for deviously prepared food.
I did bend my diet and purchased the melt in your mouth sweetness of the oversized doughnut from the Amish Baking Co.
To my surprise it didn’t upset my stomach, so I decided to try another dish just for you guys…the chili dog.
What a letdown!
Calling myself a chili making pro, this chili dog lacked the main ingredient…the chili flavor.
I was a bit upset, but the doughnut made up for the chili dog and it brought my visit to the Florida State Fair to an end.
Hey Hipster, based on what I’ve mentioned so far, do you have a favorite dish that you’d like to try?
One of the highlights of my Florida State Fair adventure was the process of making freshly squeezed Florida orange juice. This experience was located in the Ag-Venture section of the fair.
As you can see, I enjoyed myself with this little adventure. I also had the chance learn what it was like to pump my own water.
This too was located inside the Ag-Venture section of the fair.
The Florida State Fair is still one of the largest and oldest state fairs in the country that continues to bring in huge crowds of over 500,000 each year.
Experiencing the food, the attractions, and the classic traditions are all what make this annual event one of the best things to do in Tampa to jump start the new year.
Have you ever been to the Florida State Fair? If so, let us know in the comments section below.
If you enjoyed this article, then you’ll love these:
- How to Get Busch Gardens Discount Tickets from Groupon
- Everything You Must See and Do at Busch Gardens Tampa
- Is Falcon’s Fury Busch Gardens Scariest Ride?
Are you planning a Busch Garden’s vacation soon? Read the Theme Park Vacation Planning Guide for your next dream trip!
Until next time, Happy Park Hopping Hipsters!
(Original Article Date: February 18, 2014/Updated November 26, 2019)