While boasting “the largest midway in the USA,” the core purpose of the Florida State Fair, celebrated for 114 years, is a showcase of Florida’s agriculture industry and its history.
Established in 1904, the event wasn’t designated the state’s “official” fair by Florida legislators until 1975, setting the stage for its move from downtown Tampa seven miles east to its current 355-acre site at the intersection of Interstate 4 and U.S. 301.
A must-see for history buffs is Cracker Country, a living history museum that tells the story of the settlement of Florida during the 1800s by cattle ranchers, who got the name of “Crackers” by the sound of the whips they used to drive cattle from the Carolinas and Georgia into Florida.
The museum re-creates an 1890s rural Florida town with original buildings dating from 1870 to 1912, which were relocated to the fairgrounds from across the state. During the fair, costumed “interpreters” portray the daily living experience of Florida’s pioneers.
While many consider carnival rides and corndog concessions the highlights of the fair, the overriding mission is to showcase the state’s agriculture industry – from the cattle that still roam Florida’s prairies to the fruits and vegetables that serve as the nation’s winter garden. The best in the state are showcased in the fair’s pavilions.
The fair operates under the umbrella of the Florida Department of Agriculture, although the event is self-supporting and relies on income from entry fees, concerts, rides, sponsorships and vendors to survive.
Florida State Fair Fast Facts
Location: Florida State Fairgrounds, 4800 U.S. 301 North, Tampa, FL.
GPS: 27°59’22.35″N × 82°22’15.73″W
Adult (12 & up) $9 in advance; $11 Monday through Thursday at gate; $13 Friday, Saturday and Sunday at gate.
Child (6-11) $5 in advance; $6 Monday through Thursday at gate; $7 Friday, Saturday and Sunday at gate.
Senior (55+) $7 in advance, $9 at gate only on February 13-17.
Any Day Ride Armband* $30 in advance, $35 at gate (good for any one day of the Fair). (Discounted on February 9, 13, 14, 15, and 16 only).
To purchase admission tickets and armbands, visit any Publix in Hillsborough, Pinellas, Polk and Pasco counties.
To purchase tickets online, go to http://www.floridastatefair.com
Daily Entertainment is FREE and included in the price of admission. Exceptions may be possible in 2019.
2018 Hours (Likely to remain the same in 2019):
For more information, visit the Florida State Fair web site at floridastatefair.com or call 1-800-345-FAIR.
RV Camping Options
Florida State Fair Campground. Karian Fogle, Electrical/Camping/Box Office Supervisor. Email: [email protected] or call 813-627-4360; Sharon Hanna, Electrical/Camping/Box Office. Email: [email protected] or 813-663-3663
Best Camping near Tampa Bay. Here’s a rundown of Florida Rambler’s top nine campgrounds in and around Tampa Bay, ideal for your visit to the Florida State Fair.
Lithia Springs Park. Scenic campsites, natural environment and a cool, clear spring.
Other things to do near Tampa:
Pinellas Trail: On the west side of Tampa Bay is one of the most progressive and appreciated rails-to-trails projects in all of Florida. The 37-mile Pinellas Trail starts in Tarpon Springs and runs south through downtown Dunedin, Clearwater, Largo, Pasadena, ending in St. Petersburg. We have two articles for more information: Scenic window to another world and Treasured St. Pete bike trail
Busch Gardens: The Gulf Coast’s only theme park, Busch Gardens is a whole bunch of fun. Take a safari on the Serengeti Plains, or experience the thrill of your life on the SheiKra roller coaster. Visit the web site at seaworldparks.com/buschgardens_tampa
Ybor City: Once the cigar capital of the world, Ybor City retains much of Tampa’s old city charm and Latin flavor. Restaurants, art galleries, pubs and cafes, and you can still see Tampa’s famous cigar makers practicing their trade. Explore by foot for the best experience.
Fort Desoto: Even if you don’t camp here, you’ll want to go to the beach here. Fort Desoto’s beaches consistently rank among the Top 10 beaches in America. Read these Florida Rambler articles: Fort Desoto Park and Camping at Fort Desoto
Spring Training: Spring Training camps open up in the Tampa Bay area during the fair. The Yankees, Blue Jays and Phillies all have camps nearby. See our 2018 Spring Training Guide with schedules, ticket information and things to do nearby.
Thai market and brunch at a Tampa Buddhist Temple: When visiting Tampa, one of the most intriguing experiences is an open-air Sunday brunch at a gorgeous Buddhist temple — Wat Mongkolratanaram, or Wat Tampa for short.
Five favorite places to go paddle boarding in Tampa. For paddle boarding, it would be hard to find a better destination than Tampa Bay.
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