The year was 1904. The American flag had 45 stars, Theodore Roosevelt was president and the average American earned just 22 cents an hour. That year, the fair that would be later known as the Florida State Fair opened its gates in Tampa. Since then, there have been incredible inventions, wars, social change, and musical styles that have rocked each generation. Still, the Florida State Fair annually held in February remains a showcase of the best the state has to offer.
Today, the Florida State Fair, presented by the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services, attracts up to a half-million people in 12 days.
Fairgoers can enjoy a spacious midway that provides more than 100 rides and games. And, there is fair food—cotton candy, ice cream, and things fried that you never thought of frying.
Exhibitors come from all over the state to continue the tradition of showing off their handiwork. Children participating in 4-H Club and the Future Farmers of America are eager to show their skills and animals.
A visit to the Florida State Fair is not complete without stepping back in time into Cracker Country—a rustic turn-of-the-century village.
While some of the headline entertainment for the Florida State Fair is free, regular fair admission is required. Some shows require a special ticket in addition to fair admission.
Free attractions and performances both indoors and out are available daily throughout the fairgrounds, including parades, bands, crafts, and more.
In the fall of 2010, it was decided that the use of a changing theme from year to year would be eliminated in favor of a consistent slogan that best represents the Florida State Fair brand. The Florida State Fair's annual slogan is "The Best Time of the Year!"
More About Cracker County
Cracker Country is a living history museum located at the Florida State Fairgrounds transporting fairgoers to a different time in its exhibit, "Discover the Past." When you visit Cracker Country you will step into the original historic buildings of the early 1900s in rural Florida.
The museum holds a collection of 13 original buildings dating from 1870 to 1912. The buildings range from public buildings like the Terry Store and the Okahumpka Train Depot to private buildings like houses.
Advance admission tickets for the fair usually go on sale in December or January throughout the state at specific advertised locations and online. You can usually save some money by purchasing advance tickets up through the start of the fair. Midway ride tickets, armbands, and concert tickets do not include fair gate admission.
Directions and Parking
The Florida State Fair is located just seven miles east of downtown Tampa with access via I-75, I-4, Highway 301, and Martin Luther King Blvd (Highway 574). Parking is free with wheelchair accessible parking spaces available at each gate. There is a free weekend park-and-ride shuttle service that runs continuously between Highland Oaks (I-75 at Highway 574 Exit) and the entrance gate.