The 103rd annual South Florida Fair will turn to the lights, entertainment and action of Las Vegas from Jan. 16 through Feb. 1.
The South Florida Fair 2015 features “Las Vegas Exposition: A Jackpot of Memories.” Guests will step into the fair’s 80,000-square-foot exposition hall with a feeling that they’ve just entered the entertainment capital of the world. Through a process known as video mapping, which results in the dynamic projection of images, spectators will see some of the iconic views of Las Vegas. In addition, fair goers can count on seeing another complex sand sculpture that will include playing cards, poker chips, Caesars Palace and the Circus Hotel.
The fair will create its own version of the Fountains of Bellagio. Liquid Fireworks is creating a display that will include chasing lights and dancing fountains synchronized to music and set before a large backdrop of the Bellagio Las Vegas hotel. An aerial cirque show will be presented daily in the center of the Expo East building, and a Las Vegas-themed ice skating show produced by Rosstyn Ice Show also will entertain audiences three times daily in the Expo West building.
Another highlight expected to draw considerable interest is the Private Collection of the King on Tour, featuring one of the largest private collections of Elvis Presley memorabilia outside of Graceland. This marks the first time that the collection has been available as a mobile museum. Its new home is a 53-foot, customized $500,000 unit with hydraulic side pullouts, which contains high-quality Elvis artifacts. To keep with the Elvis theme, on Tuesday, Jan. 20, anyone who is dressed as Elvis will get in free to the fair, and Thursday, Jan. 29 at 8 p.m., the next to the final round of the Elvis Extravaganza National Competition takes place. The contest will feature a variety of Elvis impersonators competing for cash, prizes and a spot in the national finals Feb.13-15 at the Florida State Fair in Tampa. Visit www.elviscontest.com for details.
Guests can expect to see Wayne Newton, Tina Turner, Bette Midler, Joan Rivers & Friends, the Rat Pack, Barbara Streisand and Rodney Dangerfield in the house — as impersonators — putting on a show they promise will entertain. To see their performance schedule, visit www.southfloridafair.com and look under Stardust Theatre. Another new addition is Dale K, the “almost evil comedy hypnotist,” who will perform on the Expo East stage daily.
The Bengal Tiger Encounter, an exotic animal program that is both inspirational and educational, also is new to this year’s fair. These bengal tigers are helping to educate the public on the loss of habitat and the killing of tigers for profit in India and Asia. Their trainers feed them 12 to 14 pounds of beef or chicken daily, and they undergo regular medical checkups by a certified veterinarian.
The more than 80 rides on the Wade Shows midway continue to be a major draw to the fair, and four new rides will make their debut at the 2015 fair, including a new Monster Truck kiddie ride, a Gravitron themed “Centrifuge,” a Quasar themed “Music Express” from ARM and a Zamperla Barnyard themed “Beach Shack.” Ride fans can beat the lines with Gold Access. Gold Access allows guests to skip the ride lines and move to the front at the special gold and black checkerboard lines. All Gold Access guests receive a VIP lanyard and distinctive wristband to access Gold Access privileges.
Main stage national entertainment appearing on the Coca-Cola Stage at the Party Pavilion include Hawk Nelson, Sanctus Real, Josh Thompson, Hinder, Foghat, the Country Gold Tour, Puddle of Mudd and Dan + Shay.
Additional fun-filled attractions also are part of fair festivities. On Sundays at 1 p.m., and Tuesdays and Thursdays at 6:30 p.m., twirling groups, folkloric dancers, Amara Shriners, marching bands, cars, mascots, the South Florida Fair Marching Band and the fair mascot will stroll their way through the grounds. The parades are sponsored by the International Polo Club Palm Beach.
Fair goers can count on their favorites as well, which include the Hambone Express racing pigs, a petting zoo, South Florida Fair Hall of Famer and entertainer Dennis Lee, the Starz of the Future competition and the Miss South Florida Fair Scholarship Pageant, which distributes more than $9,000 in scholarships to the selected finalists. Miss America certified judges select the winner, who advances to Miss Florida, where she will compete to represent Florida at the Miss America Pageant.
Thousands of farm animals and feathered friends will gather again in the Agriplex. The Moo-ternity Tent is always a big hit as guests watch cows delivering their calves. Additional activities include equestrian events that include dressage, show jumping, pleasure shows, barrel racing and clinics.
Historic Yesteryear Village will be open throughout the 17-day fair, which allows visitors to see how folks lived in inland South Florida during the late 19th century. In the village, Jimmy Riffle of the Gator Boys will present the Scales, Tales and Teeth Road Show. This road crew will show how they handle alligators and other native and exotic reptiles by performing dangerous stunts and capture techniques.
The 2015 South Florida Fair takes place from Jan. 16 through Feb. 1 at the South Florida Fairgrounds (9067 Southern Blvd.). Adult admission, 12 and older, is $10 in advance and $15 at the gate. A child’s admission, under 12, is $5 in advance and $8 at the gate. Ages 5 and younger are admitted free, and seniors 60 and older pay $7 in advance and $9 at the gate.
The South Florida Fair is produced by the South Florida Fair/Palm Beach County Expositions, a nonprofit organization. For more information, call (561) 793-0333 or visit www.southfloridafair.com.
ABOVE: New this year is the Bengal Tiger Encounter.