Florida State Fair

Alright, we’re starting the Florida Fair Quadrilogy with the biggest of all – Tampa is home to the annual Florida State Fair.

The Florida State Fair runs for 11 days during the month of February.  For a decent chunk of the country, having a fair in February is completely insane, but around here the average high is in the low to mid 70s.  It’s absolutely perfect fair weather.

We opted to take a day off work to avoid the weekend crowds.  It was still fairly busy, though the lines were only an issue at one point late in the evening.  I was immediately impressed by the Midway Sky Eye.  This 155 foot tall wheel is the largest travelling ferris wheel in North America.

It’s actually one of several Ferris wheels at the fair.  The rides here are provided by a company called Wade Shows.  I was unfamiliar with them prior to this fair, and suffice it to say I was quite impressed with what they offered.  In fact, I wasn’t even really planning on riding anything until I got a good look at what all was there.

Here’s a view of the midway from a Ferris wheel along the perimeter of the fairground.  To put the scope here in perspective, that’s the 155 foot tall Sky Eye in the upper right of the frame.  Here’s the thing – there’s an entire section of the fair that’s not visible here.  One thing we unfortunately did not get any pictures of was the Circus Hollywood – an interesting circus-show (smallish big top and all) that had several really good acts (and one that completely killed the momentum).

Remember the view from the Ferris wheel, incidentally.  We’ll be coming back to it later.

I feel like getting a gyro at the fair should be a terrifying concept, but I have never been disappointed by one.  The meat is always properly seasoned, the veggies are always fresh, the flatbread is always on point, and they never skimp on the tzatziki sauce. The gyro at the Florida State Fair was no exception.

Well, now that I’ve got some food in me, let’s do everything we can to get rid of it.  I crossed the threshold about 20 years ago where spinning rides started to bother me.  But I can do it in moderation, so I was more than eager to hop on a scrambler with Karen.

I was really excited about RC 48.  This was the second Pinfari coaster I’ve ever seen, and it was the first one I ever rode (the other one was Looping Star at Beech Bend.  I took a look at that one and noped right the hell away.  That loop looked sketchy af).

I loooved RC-48.  It was a really fun little ride that packed a lot of punch into its short cycle and modest footprint.  I ended up taking several laps on it (one of the benefits of going on a weekday).

I saw this woman standing in front of the Genesis ride while I was on the ferris wheel.  I was desperately hoping she would still be there when I got off.  I love this image.  I think it can say a lot.

Holy shit – it’s an Enterprise ride that’s actually themed to Star Trek.  I didn’t know that was a thing.  I’ve also seen a Star Wars themed Gravitron – all we need now is a Battlestar Galactica drop tower and we’d have the holy trinity of sci-fi fair rides (grow up, Browncoats).

This NY themed fun house was quite possibly the most well-maintained fun house I’ve ever been in.   All the gags worked well, the mirrors weren’t all scratched to shit, and it didn’t smell like someone died halfway through.  I’m not going to lie, though – I was a little nervous going down that slide.  I did end up taking a bad turn halfway down and scraped up my knee, but whatever.  Small price to pay for a great fun house.

But all that praise for the fun house doesn’t apply to the spook house.  I really don’t understand why these things are always garbage.  Some flickering lights, a loud horn or two, and some shitty masks that look like they were bought in November from the world’s saddest Spencer Gifts.  Look, I’m not expecting animatronics or gory displays in here – this isn’t Halloween Horror Nights or anything – but at least pretend like you’re trying, guys.