During the Sunshine State’s mild winter, it’s certainly a fair time to be living in Florida. That’s especially true when looking ahead at all of the county and state fairs and festivals scheduled for the next several months.
Before Central Florida was known for its theme parks, the area served as mostly cattle ranching land and provided fertile ground for citrus groves. While those industries aren’t as visible today, many Floridians still find their livelihood in raising livestock and growing produce.
Those agricultural aspects are on full display when witnessing a livestock auction at the Central Florida Fair or exploring Plant City’s main industry through the Florida Strawberry Festival.
Here are the fairs and festivals coming up around Central Florida.
Florida State Fair
Florida’s statewide fair is back with dozens of rides and games, an unfathomable amount of food, live entertainment and agriculture spread across the fairgrounds. One unique aspect of the fair is Cracker County, a living history museum that transports visitors back to the 19th century.
When: Feb. 9-20; gates open at 11 a.m. Monday-Thursday and 10 a.m. Friday-Sunday
Where: 4800 N. U.S. Highway 301 in Tampa
What to expect: Deep-fried food, agricultural events, live entertainment, many rides, lots of games, vendors, artists, unique exhibits, Floridian history and more
Unique features: Giraffe encounters, Circus Hollywood, entertaining magicians, racing pigs and agriculture exhibits are all on the lineup for the Florida State Fair. That’s not to mention food specials such as a hot Cheeto burger, a salted caramel turtle funnel cake, fried Key lime pie and more.
Tickets: Online — $10 for adults, $8 for seniors (ages 55 and older) and $6 for children (ages 6-11). Unlimited ride passes available. Gate prices cost more.
More info: floridastatefair.com
Osceola County Fair
The Osceola County Fair, a Kissimmee-area tradition of more than 75 years, is bringing rides, livestock, agriculture, fair eats, pageants and entertainment to Osceola Heritage Park. In the music lineup, country artist Chase Matthew will perform on Feb. 19.
When: Feb. 10-19; gates open 5 p.m. Monday-Thursday and noon Friday-Sunday (4 p.m. Feb. 10, opening night)
Where: 1911 Kissimmee Valley Lane in Kissimmee
What to expect: Fair food, agriculture and livestock events, truck and tractor pulls, artists, vendors, live entertainment, pageants and contests
Unique features: Livestock and animals take the stage during this fair with shows for cattle, rabbits, sheep, poultry, hogs and more. Other eye-catching events include Demolition Derby on Feb. 12, the pie-eating contest on Feb. 18 and entertainment from racing pigs, a hypnotist and the Pompeyo Family Dog Show. The fair also coincides with Monster Bulls (Feb. 11) and Silver Spurs Rodeo (Feb. 17-19).
Tickets: $8 for adults and $5 for children (ages 5-11). A season pass is available for $35. Some nights offer specials and an unlimited ride pass as an add-on.
More info: osceolacountyfair.com
Central Florida Fair
Fair food, carnival rides and livestock will pop up right in Orlando’s backyard when the 111th Central Florida Fair returns in March. Visitors can experience agriculture up close and explore live entertainment, contests, games and more.
When: March 2-12; 4-10 p.m. Monday-Friday, noon-10 p.m. Saturday-Sunday
Where: 4603 W. Colonial Drive in Orlando
What to expect: Fair food, livestock, vendors, competitions, entertainment, ride and games midway, helicopter rides, kids activities
Unique features: Entertainment at this year’s fair includes a Robocars show and pig races. As the fair wraps up, Puerto Rican singer Melina León will perform on March 10 and Kevin Gates will appear live on March 11 (concert tickets cost extra). The fair represents one of the largest livestock shows in the state.
Tickets: Online: $10 general admission on weekdays, $15 on weekends. Ride and admissions packages are also available online. Gate prices cost more.
More info: centralfloridafair.com
Florida Strawberry Festival
Florida’s annual celebration of strawberries brings headliners such as Willie Nelson, Ludacris and Lynyrd Skynyrd, plus plenty of strawberries. The Plant City festival, which draws about 500,000 visitors over 11 days, also provides midway rides and games, free entertainment, eating contests and livestock shows.
When: March 2-12 10 a.m.-10 p.m.
Where: 303 BerryFest Place in Plant City
What to expect: Many strawberry-infused dishes, free entertainment, midway rides, vendors selling handcrafted items, children’s activities and livestock shows
Unique features: Strawberries are truly at the heart of this event. Find plenty of innovative strawberry-based foods at the festival, plus thousands of fresh strawberries. The headlining musicians are also a focal point of the festival.
Tickets: $10 for adults (ages 13 and older) or $5 for children (ages 6-12). Discounted admission is available at select Publix stores and online. Rides cost extra.
More info: flstrawberryfestival.com
Seminole County Fair
This year the Seminole County Fair celebrates 25 years.
When: Opening March 24
Where: 440 Hickman Drive in Sanford
What to expect: Find fair food, rides, games, entertainment and a children-specific Kiddieland
Unique features: Rides and games are the focal points of this fair, bringing plenty of fun for the whole family.
Tickets: Free admission and parking; rides are priced individually, or unlimited wristbands are available.
More info: seminolecountyfair.com
Lake County Fair
The Lake County Fair, set near scenic Lake Eustis, has been entertaining and educating local residents since 1921. The fair, now celebrating its 102nd annual event, includes pageants, livestock shows, arts, entertainment and more during the show.
When: April 6-15; 5-11 p.m. Monday-Friday, 1-11 p.m. Saturday-Sunday
Where: 2101 County Road 452 in Eustis
What to expect: Fair food, livestock shows, art, vendors, rides, games, pageants and more
Unique features: The Lake County Fair is sure to entertain with racing pigs, a thrill show, magic and musicians. Baked goods, sewing, woodwork, welding, arts and livestock are other highlights at this event.
Tickets: Information coming soon
More info: lakecofair.com