Tyrannosaurus Rex and triceratops may have vanished millions of years ago, but the 2023 edition of the South Florida Fair will bring them and other dinosaur species back to life. That’s because the 111th annual South Florida’s Fair’s theme is “Dino-Myte.” The 2023 event kicked off with a Ride-A-Thon on Thursday, Jan. 12, with the full fair being held Friday, Jan. 13 through Sunday, Jan. 29 at the South Florida Fairgrounds, located at 9067 Southern Blvd.
Imagine Exhibitions will offer a scale of animatronic dinosaur displays that is second to none. The traveling exhibit, titled “Dinosaurs Around the World,” will showcase some of the world’s most unique and recently discovered dinosaurs. Guests will discover where the various species of dinosaurs lived, how they arrived and the latest paleontological, cutting-edge research.
Fairgoers also will have the opportunity to see lifelike dinosaurs in action and may touch and interact with them throughout the Jurassic Kingdom Lockdown show. For the past nine years, this show has been one of the most beloved displays in the fair and festival industry.
“We know that many children are fascinated by dinosaurs, even though they’re extinct,” South Florida Fair President & CEO Vicki Chouris said. “Dinosaurs fit into their world of imaginary play, and we hope to entertain and educate them and their families in a fun-filled, visual way.”
Additional theme-related exhibits will include prehistoric dinosaur adventures, a mobile museum, the Palm Beach Museum of Natural History, the Cox Science Museum & Aquarium, a Dino Encounters Excavation Zone, and Mr. Adler — an experienced paleontologist who loves to take his babies for a stroll around the fair.
Aside from the theme exhibits, the fair will feature a wide array of new and returning attractions. Highlights include:
• Extreme Illusions and Escapes, new for 2023, presented by American Bath & Shower. This show is one of the largest ones touring today. Featuring Josh and Lea Knotts, the duo has designed a show mixed with stage illusions, skillful escapes, audience participation and music to go along with it. Not an everyday magic act, the show has become a crowd favorite at every event where they have performed. They’ve traveled the U.S. entertaining audiences of all sizes and have performed more than 300 shows annually since 2009.
• Dinotopia On Ice, presented by Ford. A Florida-based, international company founded in 1994 with more than 50 years combined experience, Rosstyn Ice Shows showcases professional performances by adagio pairs with their breathtaking moves. Star soloists and talented skaters perform with elaborate costumes, lighting, sound, special effects, scenery and unique specialty acts on ice, including jugglers, comedians, magicians and singers.
• Two different wine pairing dinners are scheduled on Monday, Jan. 23, and on Friday, Jan. 27, at 7 p.m. in the hospitality building. Presented by Cugini Winery, limited tickets are available for $75 per person, which includes fair admission. Reservations are required. Wine tastings also will occur each day in Building 3, along with demonstrations (included in fair admission).
• A new horse show titled “Hollywood Horses Tricks and Tales” is expected to wow guests. This is an exciting and educational show owned by Austin Anderson. He teaches the audience how the horses are trained and discusses how he approaches training, working with a horse’s natural ability and how to enhance it. After a fun audience participation and a few demonstrations, Anderson will then have the horses perform some amazing tricks.
• The fair also features more than 200 rides, games and attractions, including the return of the Midway Sky Eye, known as the “giant wheel.” As North America’s largest traveling Ferris wheel, the ride reaches a peak height of 155 feet and is comprised of more than 500 pieces. More than 524,000 individual LED lights make it the brightest spectacle at the fair. Guests also can see for miles from the top of this ride. New rides include the Wave Swinger and Corky’s Wipeout.
• The fair’s award-winning agriculture and livestock program features more than 1,000 exhibitors from more than 30 Florida counties. The always popular Mooternity barn gives guests a chance to see calves being born. At the 2022 fair, 19 calves were born, including one set of twins.
• There will be five stages of live music and entertainment featuring country, rock, disco and more. The Tribute Band Competition also is returning on Saturday, Jan. 28. There will also be a drumline competition and two robotic competitions, new in 2023, on the K&M community stage and the Concourse Building.
• Comedy hypnotist Brad Matchett returns with his family-friendly, Vegas-style hypnosis show. Willing volunteers who are selected to be in the show provide plenty of laughs for the audience.
• Artist Alley will feature the artwork of some of the area’s most creative artists in Building 2, and the Horton Fair Display will show off a giant fair display of rides and more, all made from recycled materials.
• If the ever-popular fair food is what you’re craving, the usual “fried everything” will be offered. New items include Miller Lemonade’s pickle lemonade, Holy Macaroni’s Thai bowls and its build-your-own macaroni bowls, which were introduced last year.
• In conjunction with the Downtown Development Authority’s “The Next Big Thing” project, world-renowned Finnish artist and architect, Marco Casagrande, will present a workshop in Yesteryear Village on Monday, Jan. 16. He was the winner of the DDA’s quest to bring a unique and imaginative outdoor experience to the heart of West Palm Beach. Children have been selected to draw their concept of a trojan horse during the workshop, which may be observed by guests. Casagrande will take their concepts and create eight life-sized rocking horses, which will be displayed in March.
• A favorite, the Sundy Feed Store, will have locally grown vegetables, rice and products for fairgoers to purchase and take home. The Ag-xotic Landscape Contests will return in which area schools will compete. This will take place beside the Sundy Feed Store.
• Some 2,000 elementary students from almost 40 schools will complete the last mile of a marathon as part of the South Florida Fair Kids’ Mile, sponsored by Baptist Health. The event will take place on Saturday, Jan. 14. The Kids’ K race for under school age children begins at 8:20 a.m., and the Kids’ Mile race begins at 8:30 a.m. The event is the culmination of a 12-week training program that enables children to run a full 26.2-mile marathon by running portions of it each week.
Many of the fair most popular annual events will also be making their return, such as $2 Tuesdays featuring $2 admission. Each food vendor will offer a sample food item for just $2, and most rides will be $2. There is also the return of daily parades featuring custom floats straight from New Orleans, lots of beads tossed to onlookers and music by the fair’s own marching band.
Don’t miss the Miss South Florida Fair & Miss Palm Beach County Scholarship Competition. Participants will compete for more than $13,000 in scholarships. The live portion of the contest will be held on Saturday, Jan. 14, starting at 4 p.m. inside the Expo East Theater. Both title winners are automatically entered into the Miss Florida 2022 Competition.
Speaking of scholarships, the fair awarded 23 scholarships totaling $50,750 to 19 local students in 2022. Another $55,000 will be awarded to 21 recipients at the 2023 South Florida Fair.
The South Florida Fair is produced by the South Florida Fair & Palm Beach County Expositions, a nonprofit organization with a longstanding tradition of raising funds for educational and charitable purposes. For more info., call (561) 793-0333 or visit www.southfloridafair.com.