The 2018 edition of the South Florida Fair will open Friday, Jan. 12 at the South Florida Fairgrounds, offering more than two weeks of exhibits, rides, entertainment and fun until closing day on Sunday, Jan. 28.
Last year’s New Orleans theme and Mardi Gras parades were so popular that fair organizers decided the entire theme this year should focus on parades. Thus, the “Magical Parades” theme was created to celebrate the fair’s 106th edition, which will kick off at 5 p.m. on Thursday, Jan. 11 with the popular ride-a-thon.
Each day of the 17-day fair, a famous parade from around the world will be highlighted, complete with authentic music, colorful costumes and highly decorated Mardi Gras floats, which also will be on display in the “Magical Parades” exhibition. Float riders are expected to delight fairgoers as they toss beads into the crowd.
The fair’s signature Bike Nite parades, which typically attract more than 250 motorcyclists, also will be part of the lineup. The parades are scheduled weekdays at 6:30 p.m., except for Thursday, Jan. 25, which will be at 7:30 p.m., and weekends at 1 p.m.
One of last year’s most successful promotions — $2 Fat Tuesdays — also is returning. On both Tuesdays of the fair, Jan. 16 and Jan. 23, admission, rides and food bites will be $2 all day.
New attractions include “Lady Houdini” Kristen Johnson, known as the world’s premier female escape artist, who broke Harry Houdini’s record in 2012 for the most water torture cell escapes ever performed, estimated at over 2,000 attempts. She and her husband, Kevin Ridgeway, who emcees the show, were originally scheduled to perform at last year’s fair, but were involved in a serious car accident the day before the 2017 fair’s start and had to cancel. Since their recovery, they have built a segment into their show about the dangers of distracted driving.
North America’s largest, portable observation wheel — the 155-foot-tall Midway Sky Eye — is coming to the South Florida Fair for the first time, equipped with more than 524,000 LED lights and 36 gondolas holding six riders each.
Looking for something a bit more down to earth? The Magical Parades Carousel will be set up in Expo East, where guests enter. There will be a nominal charge that will benefit a different charity each day.
The fair will continue its tradition of hosting an award-winning agriculture and livestock program featuring more than 1,000 exhibitors from more than 30 Florida counties; world-class ice skating performances daily; the historic Yesteryear Village; more than 200 rides, games and attractions; the creative crafts and skills competition; the Hambone Express racing pigs; the Starz of the Future competition; and the Miss South Florida Fair Scholarship Pageant. Guests also can count on entertaining shows by hypnotist Tyzen.
As always, the South Florida Fair is the place to go for foodies looking to consume cuisine they won’t find anywhere else. Among the hundreds of choices is Fun Time Foods’ Hashbomb, which is two hash brown patties with cheddar cheese and bacon, along with tater tot recipes that will coincide with the daily parade themes.
Also on the menu is Bianco’s bird dog, which features two pieces of chicken on a hot dog bun covered with cheese and bacon, as well as the Porky’s doughnut burger. Last year’s fair favorite, the Purple Shrimp’s shrimp and grits will be returning this year.
Some of the sweeter offerings include Parnell Foods’ freshly fried beignets, Chic Crepes’ sweet and savory French-style crepes, and K&R Concession’s original king cake slices. Plus, there is Goetze’s Dairy Kone’s Sriracha fire and ice cream sundae, made with soft serve vanilla ice cream and Sriracha hot sauce.
Ghost Tours will return to Yesteryear Village every night at 10 p.m. on Friday and Saturday when the village closes. The cost is $15 and does not include fair admission. Guests will meet in the Red Level Baptist Church.
Four stages of music and entertainment include the concert series at the Coca-Cola Stage with performances by Christian singer Matthew West, pop-rockers Atlanta Rhythm Section, country artist Chris Lane, internationally acclaimed Grand Funk Railroad and the iconic Nitty Gritty Dirt Band. A variety of bands, including Frankie Negron, Anthony La Makina, Samba New York, Grupo Impress and La Esencial, also will perform during Latin Fest on Sunday, Jan. 21.
Advance discount tickets are on sale at Palm Beach County Publix supermarkets, Bud’s Chicken & Seafood and Palm Beach County BB&T Bank branches, and online at www.southfloridafair.com through Jan. 11 at midnight.
Adult admission, 12 and older, is $10 in advance and $15 at the gate. A child’s admission, ages 6 to 11, is $5 in advance and $8 at the gate. Guests age 5 and younger are free. Those who are 60 years of age and older pay $7 in advance and $9 at the gate. Tickets for the ride-a-thon are $20 ($15 with a coupon). Call (561) 793-0333 or visit www.southfloridafair.com for details.