St. Petersburg Times
Special report
Video report
  • For their own good
    Fifty years ago, they were screwed-up kids sent to the Florida School for Boys to be straightened out. But now they are screwed-up men, scarred by the whippings they endured. Read the story and see a video and portrait gallery.
  • More video reports
Multimedia report
Print Email this storyEmail story Comment Letter to the editor
Fill out this form to email this article to a friend
Your name Your email
Friend's name Friend's email
Your message
 

Food, fun at fair's Fiesta Day

By S.I. Rosenbaum
Published July 13, 2007


ADVERTISEMENT

When the Hillsborough County Fair opens in October, it will offer all the traditional pleasures: livestock and fried dough, art shows and gospel music.

But this year's fair will also set aside a day to salute the mostly Mexican crop pickers upon whom, fair organizers say, Hillsborough County agriculture depends.

"We chose to honor the Hispanic heritage so prevalent in Tampa Bay ... especially the Mexican community, without which farmers would not be able to harvest the crops critical to this multimillion-dollar industry," said Betty Jo Tompkins, the fair association president.

The fair's "Fiesta Day" will feature a Mexican-style rodeo, costume contest, food and Latin music at its new site near Dover.

Guadalupe "Lupe" Lamas, who works at a mission for farmworkers in Dover, said she was excited about the idea.

It's a change from the traditional agricultural fair, she said, where typically farmers were honored while Latino farmworkers were invisible.

"They just pretend we don't exist," she said.

"If you go to the Strawberry Festival in Plant City, it is the glorification of the farmer - and that's okay," she said. "But they totally forget that strawberries are picked by farmworkers."

Tompkins said she wouldn't criticize the Plant City event, which split from the County Fair years ago.

But she agreed that migrant workers are an aspect of agriculture that "has not been showcased as it should be in a positive way."

Tompkins, with her fair complexion and trademark beehive of braids, looks as Anglo as apple pie. But her maiden name is Padron, and her family emigrated from the Canary Islands. She jokes that that makes her African-American.

As a young woman working on a degree in agriculture, she spent time picking crops alongside newly immigrated Mexicans and Guatemalans.

She said she has long wanted to incorporate that aspect of farming into the county fair.

"I've always thought it was important for us to reflect on all the different groups that make up the fair," Tompkins said. "Our fair is going to be unique."

S.I. Rosenbaum can be reached 661-2442 or srosenbaum@sptimes.com.

[Last modified July 12, 2007, 08:25:47]


Share your thoughts on this story

[an error occurred while processing this directive]
Subscribe to the Times
Click here for daily delivery
of the St. Petersburg Times.

Email Newsletters

ADVERTISEMENT