Roaming Around the Florida State Fair in Tampa

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One of Those Wild Rides I Won't Step Foot On, Florida State Fair in Tampa

One of Those Wild Rides I Won't Step Foot On, Florida State Fair in Tampa

Have ya heard? The Florida State Fair is here now through Feb. 20! And since I love fairs, I decided to forgo what I should have been doing inside (catching up on blogging, cleaning for my parents’ arrival) I opted to make the trip up to Tampa to see what animals I could “awwww” over, which deep-fried food on a stick I could eat and support my uncle and his band Yesterdayze.

I should note today was a little chilly for Florida. When I returned to my car around 3 p.m., the thermometer read 55 degrees! A wool sweater, gloves, Uggs and my ScotteVest was how I kept warm. At least it was sunny.

Awwww! Baby Piggies at the Florida State Fair

Awwww! Baby Piggies at the Florida State Fair

Animals to Make Ya Say “Awwww”

I’m an animal person. Growing up in addition to dogs and cats, we had goats and chickens. I still don’t understand the whole goat thing but think it was supposed to be a lesson in responsibility. All I learned from our short stint in goat care-giving was their horns grow back really weird once initially removed, they really liked to butt my little sister and when they escaped from the barn, they could usually be found in the backyard on top of the picnic table eating maple leaves. Anyway…

In one of the livestock halls, seven piglets stopped and made me say, “awwww!” As a mamma (sow) pig slept two of her little, adorable babies suckled their breakfast while the other five snuggled for warmth. They were so cute! Video to be posted eventually but see this photo? Aren’t they cute?

Sample Fresh Florida Citrus & Tropical Fruit for $1 a Plate at the Florida State Fair

Sample Fresh Florida Citrus & Tropical Fruit for $1 a Plate at the Florida State Fair

Not Just About the Deep-Fried Food

My pores are still seeping oil from last week’s deep-fried butter at the Charlotte County Fair and munching on something cooked in oil just wasn’t appealing, until I saw the Amish Donuts and deep-fried bubblegum. OK, let me back up. Once entering the fair, I saw there was a tropical fruit sampling for $1 in the Florida agriculture hall and that sounded extremely refreshing. I tasted a variety of oranges, grapefruits, kumquats, star fruit and a papaya. Mmm, mmm. I’m not really a fan of star fruit but what they had there was juicy and flavorful.

If You Eat One Thing at the Florida State Fair - Eat an Amish Donut!

If You Eat One Thing at the Florida State Fair - Eat an Amish Donut!

As for other fair nourishment, there was an $8 smoked turkey leg and then I saw a simple white tent with a sign promoting Amish donuts and soft pretzels. Walking by, I heard a woman moan, “Oh my gosh!” after taking a bite of a fresh-made donut.

OK, I was tempted and gave in. For $3 this little piece of heaven coated in a sugar glaze melted in my mouth. The donut itself was slightly warm and incredibly fluffy. The glaze wasn’t overly sweet. Look out Krispy Kreme, you’ve got some serious competition from a guy originally from North Carolina. His family moved to Sarasota and his father started Big Olaf Creamery (this ice cream is made by loving Amish hands and a MUST when visiting). His son now attends festivals and events making donuts and from what I saw, amazing pretzels.

If there is only one food you eat at the Florida State Fair, this Amish donut is it. Look for the white tent by the expo hall by the water.

Deep-Fried Bubblegum. Yeah, I Had to Try It.

Deep-Fried Bubblegum. Yeah, I Had to Try It.

As for the deep-fried bubblegum, I dropped $4 on this and it was OK. Not sure if you can tell by the photo, but the batter is pink and had a little fruity-berry flavor and scent to it. As for the center being bubblegum, I’m not sure. It could be a pink marshmallow but maybe it is bubblegum. How long does bubblegum last in your digestive system? Something like seven years?

The Band Yesterdayze Rocked Out '60s Tunes at the Florida State Fair

The Band Yesterdayze Rocked Out '60s Tunes at the Florida State Fair

Movin’ and Groovin’

The primary reason I went to the fair today was the Sarasota-based band Yesterdayze was playing. Not only are they a groovy, high-energy ’60s tribute band, the bassist is my uncle. I wanted to show some family support and I’m really glad I made the trip.

Grab Some Sugar Cane in the Florida Cracker Village

Grab Some Sugarcane in the Florida Cracker Village

Miscellaneous Stuff about the Florida State Fair

Admission into the Florida State Fair is $12 but parking is free. If I was on my A-game and new I would go, I could have picked up a discount ticket from a Sweetbay Supermarket. I didn’t hop on any rides, one because I don’t think I can stomach any of those wild rides in my old age and two, some rides said you couldn’t ride them if you’ve had surgery within the year. Dang! The only thing I wanted to try was the mechanical bull so I’m putting it on the list for next year.

Need relief? I found a couple of options – basic pit toilets or nice, running water ones. Of course, these have bathroom attendants who work for tips.

The Florida Cracker area was pretty neat, too. I watched sugarcane being pressed into liquid and next door, samples of sugarcane were being distributed for a small donation.

Ah, the fair. I just can’t get enough. Are you a fair person? Do you have a favorite fair food or ride?

Author: Solo Travel Girl

Originally from Buffalo, N.Y., a hiking trail led Jennifer Huber, aka: Solo Travel Girl, to a career path in tourism. She has worked in the tourism industry for more than 20 years including 10 years with a park management company in Yellowstone, Death Valley and Everglades National Park. She currently lives in Southwest Florida, and maintains this travel blog with the goal of inspiring others to travel alone, not lonely.

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