November 24, 2014
Cattle on parade

Cattle on parade in the Charlie Lykes Arena at the Florida State Fair.

Elvis tunes being sung by Dennis Lee

Elvis tunes being belted out by Dennis Lee at the Tampa Bay Times stage.

Photo: Joyce Edmondson

equestrians at the Florida State Fair

Equestrians practice during the Florida State Fair.

Photo: Joyce Edmondson

Aerial view of the midway

This midway at the Florida State Fair. (It's bigger than is captured in this photo.)

Photo: Joyce Edmondson

Mooternity ward

Entrance to the Mooternity Ward at the Florida State Fair.

Photo: Joyce Edmondson

Baby goat and mama

Nanny goat and her kid.

Ewe with baby

In awe of ewe, and her lamb too.

Photo: Joyce Edmondson

Deanna Shepard with daughter Brianna

Ag teacher Deanna Shepard and daughter Brianna were spotted hanging out in the Mooternity Ward.

Photo: Joyce Edmondson

Jacob sheep

This is Jacob Sheep has three horns - they can have up to 6 at a time.

Photo: Joyce Edmondson

Hats for sale

A duplicate of your favorite country singer's hat is for sale at the Florida State Fair. Tim McGraw, Toby Keith and Jason Aldean's hats go for $40 each.

Girl performers

Girls line up to perform a song and dance number on the Tampa Tribune Stage at the Florida State Fair.

Photo: Joyce Edmondson

Gabriella Valdes and Lauren Lidros

Gabriella Valdes and Lauren Lidros sang and danced at the Florida State Fair.

Photo: Joyce Edmondson

Fun house at the state fair

One of many fun houses at the Florida State Fair.

Photo: Joyce Edmondson

Dig into some Fair food

Fair food - dig in!

Photo: Joyce Edmondson

King Kong at the state fair

"How do you like my King Kong? I just painted his nails red," the barker yelled at me from atop the fun house.

Photo: Joyce Edmondson

Giant rat - alive

This poster - and a lot more like it - can be seen in the midway at the state fair.

Photo: Joyce Edmondson

Waterless cookware demo

Waterless cookware demonstration in the expo hall at the Florida State Fair.

Photo: Joyce Edmondson

Mama cow and baby bull

Mama cow had just given birth to a bull calf, resting in the hay.

Photo: Joyce Edmondson

Indu Brazil bull

An Indu Brazil bull at the state fair. This species of cattle is the longest-eared and the tallest of all cattle breeds.

Photo: Joyce Edmondson

Midway at the Florida State Fair

One corner of the midway at the Florida State Fair.

A day at Florida's State Fair (in photos)

The state fair can be anything you want it to be.

Joyce Edmondson | 2/12/2014

The Florida State Fair is almost hard to describe. It's a combination of a theme park, flea market, mall, animal nursery, pub and food court — with neon thrill rides to top it all off. But the fair can also be quaint, with agricultural and educational exhibits, homemade crafts and entertainment.

Then there are the smells — good and bad. Two days after going, I’m still smelling Italian sausages, cotton candy, kettle corn, deep-fried butter, deep-fried oreos — all mixed in with the pungent smells from cattle, horses and pigs.

For me, the fair is the perfect way to play hooky from reality. I was at the fair on Tuesday, Feb. 11th, "Senior Day," which meant it was quiet on the midway (during the day). The free entertainment venues were packed.

The fair is a walkathon, so be sure to wear comfortable shoes. If animals are your thing, stick to the permimeter, where the barns and exhibits are. I recommend the Mooternity, where newborn lambs, kids, calves, chicks and their mothers bleat and cheep until you give them a pinch of pellet food. Right before I arrived there, a dairy cow had gave birth to a bull calf on stage. I watched as the mother washed her newborn with her gigantic tongue.

“Oh, it's so sweet!" I said to Deanna Shepard, an ag teacher from Chamberlain High School, who was standing nearby.

"You do know they will be separated right away," Shepard told me. She explained that the bull calves aren't needed by the dairy farmers so they are taken from the mother almost immediately. Just one harsh lesson learned at the state fair. Shepard went on to tell me about the animals her students were showing at the fair: their beef cow, bunnies, chickens and goats.

Since Shepard was with her students, I asked them about the problems last Friday night (fair day for students), when gangs of students ran wild in the midway, as the newspapers reported. "We don't go on fair day," one student said.

"What do you think can be done to curb that?" I asked the group. Ideas ranged from no free admission to staggering the "fair days" across different schools.

After talking with the students, I ventured out of the Mooternity and into the midway. The bright colors were surreal. While my "Zipper" ride days are behind me, it was still tremendous fun hearing the pitches, checking out the prizes and watching those more adventurous than myself.

What's your favorite thing about the fair? Feel free to comment below.


The 110th Florida State Fair continues through Monday, February 17 on the fairgrounds in Tampa. For hours and directions, go to FloridaStateFair.com.

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