2023 Florida State Fair attractions, foods, and more

Muyao Guan, Reporter

   The Florida State Fairgrounds are home to their namesake Florida State Fair, held every February in Tampa. It’s the first state fair to happen in the calendar year and has operated for over a hundred years.

   The fair includes arts and crafts competitions, fine arts judging, and agricultural competitions, serving as a way to showcase the agricultural industry. There are rides, a petting zoo, free shows and entertainment, and even a living history museum. Part of it includes Cracker Country, a living museum of rural frontier Florida life that features preserved buildings from the 1800s. It is set in 1898, with living actors that populate the houses and buildings and general store to showcase what life was really like in that period.

   However, perhaps the most notable parts of the Florida State Fair are the typical and non-typical food selections. Funnel cakes, barbeque turkey legs, and a plethora of deep-fried everything — Oreos, butter, to name a few — aren’t the only fair foods on the menu. 

   New items are being added to the fair’s menu this year. Some are relatively tame, such as watermelon sweet tea with an optional lemonade add-on. 

   Some of the new foods include a Tampa Cuban funnel cake sandwich. True to its name, it includes the usual Cuban sandwich assembly of pork, ham, salami, pickles, and mustard, jammed in between two funnel cakes for a unique flavor. Another item is a mangonada in which mango is blended into syrup, lime salt, and tamarind. 

   These new food delicacies seem to be embracing the uniqueness of common Floridian and subtropical foods and blending it with traditional fair foods to create something new and exciting for a consumer’s stomach.

   Hillsborough County Public Schools have traditionally included a non-student day in February for students to enjoy the Fair and all the festivities there are to offer. The eleven-day event is slated to take place from Feb. 9-20.