Last updated on February 16th, 2020 at 10:54 am

Who doesn’t love the Florida State Fair?

From the livestock tents to the magical midway, circus acts and politicians, hot bands and local personalities — and food! Lots of food! And some of it is not good for you, which is, of course, the appeal of a state fair!

2016 Florida State Fair
2016 Florida State Fair

Florida State Fair showcases history, agriculture

While boasting “the largest midway in the USA,” the core purpose of the Florida State Fair 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.

Cracker Country farm at the Florida State Fair
Cracker Country farm at the Florida State Fair

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

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Dates: Feb. 6-17, 2020

Location: Florida State Fairgrounds, 4800 U.S. 301 North, Tampa, FL.

GPS: 27°59’22.35″N × 82°22’15.73″W

2020 Admission: 

Advance sale tickets can be purchased online or at Publix Supermarkets in the Tampa Bay area.

Adult (12 & up); $9 in advance; $14 at gate.
Child (6-11) $5 in advance; $8 at the gate.
Senior (55+) $7 in advance; $9 at the gate.

Any Day Ride Armband: $30 in advance, $35 at gate 

Weekday Armband: $20 advance, $25 at the gate

Gold Access Armband Upgrade:  $15 in advance, $18 at the fair. Upgrade to skip the lines on midway rides

To purchase tickets online, go to floridastatefair.com/tickets/

Parking is free

2020 hours

10 am to 9 pm — Monday-Thursday. Midway opens at 1 p.m. and closes 1-1/2 hours after gates close.
9 am to 9:30 pm — Friday-Sunday & President’s Day. Midway opens at 10 a.m. and closes 1-1/2 hours after gates close.

For more information, visit the Florida State Fair web site at floridastatefair.com or call 1-800-345-FAIR.


Lodging Options

Hotels near Tampa (Sponsored)


RV Camping at the fairgrounds

Electric hookups, pet-friendly. $37/night for 30-amp service; $47/night for 50-amp service. Advance reservations required. Sites are assigned first-come, first-served.

Download Campground Reservation Form and …

  • Mail to Florida State Fair Authority, 4800 U.S. Highway 301 North, Tampa, Florida 33610
  • E-mail to: Kimberley.Moritz@floridastatefair.com
  • FAX order to: (813) 740-4293

Other Camping Options

Best Camping near Tampa Bay. A roundup of Florida Rambler’s top nine campgrounds in and around Tampa Bay, ideal for your visit to the Florida State Fair.

Hillsborough River State Park. Camping, kayaking, hiking, biking and a humongous swimming pool are the top features of this state park that straddles the Hillsborough River. Read more: Hillsborough River State Park offers a wilderness experience not far from Tampa

Lithia Springs Park. Scenic campsites, natural environment and a cool, clear spring.

Musical Entertainment

The Florida State Fair features five outdoor entertainment stages and one indoor stage. Entertainment is included in the price of admission. Shows for all ages.

Dueling Pianos — Daily throughout the fair. M-Th: 12:00, 3:00, 6:30; F-Sa: 12:00, 3:00, 5:30, 7:30; Sun: 12:00, 3:00, 5:30. Five Points Stage

Dennis Lee Band, gospel — M-Th: 10:30, 1:30, 4:30; F-Su: 10:30, 1:30, 4:30, 7:30; Feb 7: 10:30, 1:30, 7:30

Free Fallin’ , Tom Petty Tribute Band — Feb. 12-17 – M-Th: 11:00, 2:00, 5:30; F-Su: 11:00, 2:00, 5:30

Rob Hazen — Feb. 12-17 – M-Th: 1:00, 4:30, 7:30; F-Su: 1:00, 4:30, 7:30

Bits of Grass, Bluegrass — Feb. 10-13, 11:00, 1:00, 3:00, 5:00

JunNK, music and comedy — Daily Shows: 12:00, 4:30, 7:30; Feb 15: 12:00, 3:30

Born Lonesome, Bluegrass — Feb. 6-7, 11:00, 1:00, 3:00, 5:00

SFO: Journey Tribute — Feb. 12-17, 11:00, 2:00, 5:30; Feb 15: 11:00, 2:00

Leroy Van Dyke Country Gold Tour — Feb. 12 — 10:30 am and 1:30 pm

Josh Carroll & the Fresh Fix — Feb. 6-11 – M-Th: 11:00, 2:00, 5:00; F-Su: 11:00, 2:00, 5:00, 7:30

Right on Key, A capello — M-Th: 12:30, 3:30, 6:30; F-Su: 12:30, 3:30, 6:30

Buffalo Barfield, traditional troubadours — Feb. 7-9 & Feb. 15-17 – Daily Times: 12:00, 2:00

Southern Express, country rock — Feb. 8-9 & Feb. 14-17, 11:00, 1:00, 3:00, 5:00

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.

Caladesi Island State Park: This island with an award-winning beach is great kayak destination. Read about kayaking to Caladesi Island.

Honeymoon Island State Park.

Five favorite places to go paddle boarding in Tampa. For paddle boarding, it would be hard to find a better destination than Tampa Bay.

More from Florida Rambler

The Withlacoochee: One of Florida’s most scenic kayak trails

Dade Battlefiled: Lovely Spot to reconsider history

Scenic Roads: A Drive through Old Florida cow country

 

 

3 Comments

  1. Avatar

    I called Publix; they no longer sell Fair tickets. The general admission price at the gate or purchased online is $14.00. I’ve not seen the $9 price offered anywhere; a huge price discrepancy.

  2. Avatar
    Melissa Hamm

    Id like to be bob. Great info. Very helpful. Thank you.

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