Times staff writer
© St. Petersburg Times,
TAMPA -- The 96th annual Florida State Fair opens today, offering visitors 319 acres of livestock, rides, games, entertainment, crafts and food to tempt the most dedicated dieter.
Each day of the fair, which continues until Feb. 21, offers daily attractions and special highlights. Friday's Weekend section will have details, plus a look at some of the animals visitors will see.
Opening day highlights:
Ribbon cutting and parade, starting at 11 a.m. near Gate 5. Features marching bands, costumed characters, antique farm equipment and more.
The midway has at least five new rides, and an all-new Thrill Zone (mechanical bull, Gladiator Joust, Quad Jumper, Ejection Seat) this year.
Free performances include various comedy, musical and animal acts throughout the day, plus a laser show at 9 p.m.
Loretta Lynn and Brad Paisley in concert at 2 p.m. and 7 p.m. in Entertainment Hall. Tickets are $5 (in addition to fair admission) and are on sale at the fairgrounds box office.
Hours: Gates open every day at 9 a.m. Closing time varies depending on weather and crowds -- generally about 10 p.m. weekdays, midnight-1 a.m. weekends.
Admission: $7 for adults, $4 for children 6-11, free for 5 and under. Call for special promotions. Tickets for rides are extra, but pay-one-price armband deals are available on certain days.
Parking is free and plentiful.