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Guess fair attendance and win a funnel cake

By HELEN ANNE TRAVIS
Published February 21, 2007


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TAMPA - Showmen charged reduced rates to see the tallest man in the world, and game vendors gave players more goldfish than they had legitimately won Monday afternoon.

It was closing day for the 2007 Florida State Fair.

The official preliminary attendance figure for this year's state fair is 458,158, up more than 20,000 from last year's.

In Florida, the state fair's attendance rates have consistently hovered around the half-million mark. It's a stark contrast to state fairs around the nation that are struggling.

South Dakota lawmakers have considered abandoning their fair, and in Nebraska and Colorado, taxpayers have had to rescue financially struggling fairs.

The Florida State Fair, with its midgets and fire-eaters, offers something to guests that they can't find at Walt Disney World or Busch Gardens. And the fact that the fair runs for only 12 days merely adds to its appeal.

As state fair officials bustle to compete with iPods and PSPs, they can rest easy on one thing: In surveys hosted at the fair, officials have found that the No. 1 draw of the fair is the food.

Raymond Trice and his family left the fair Monday afternoon with a turkey leg and a funnel cake in brown paper bags.

"You can't get these on the Internet," he said.

Helen Anne Travis can be reached at 813 661-2439, or htravis@sptimes.com

Fast Facts:

Food and fun

-There were approximately a dozen foods on a stick available at the 2007 Florida State Fair.

-Fairgoers consumed more than 3 tons of sugar during the 12-day event.

-If laid end to end, the amount of hot dogs consumed at the fair would stretch from Tampa to Orlando and back.

-More than 1,200 Florida youth livestock exhibitors showed animals, competing for more than $180,000 in prize money.

[Last modified February 21, 2007, 10:26:00]


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