With its slew of food options, new performances, live entertainment and other activities, the 73rd annual Pasco County Fair is aiming to make an impression.
The fair’s theme is “It’s An Adventure,” and the show will run Feb. 17 through Feb. 23 at the Pasco County Fairgrounds, 36722 State Road 52 in Dade City.
Details about the festival were shared at a Jan. 21 Greater Dade City Chamber of Commerce breakfast meeting, hosted at the fairgrounds.
The fair kicks off with a parade in downtown Dade City on Feb. 17 at 11:30 a.m. As usual, there will be marching bands, colorful floats, mounted horse units and more. The parade’s grand marshal will be country music star Billy Dean.
“We are excited about that,” said annual fair chairman and director Tracy Thompson. “We think that’ll attract some more people to come out to the parade.”
In the way of entertainment, there figures to be a little something for everyone during the course of the weeklong event, Thompson told chamber members. “We promise you there’ll be lots of adventures this year, in entertainment,” he said.
One of the major headliners is Jay Mattioli, a magician illusionist who was featured on Season 3 of “America’s Got Talent,” and became one of the youngest magicians ever to receive the International Brotherhood of Magicians’ Champion of Magic award. A sought-after entertainer on luxury cruise lines and for corporate events, Mattioli performs magic with live animals, levitates microphones and other illusions.
He will perform daily on the Back Porch Theatre.
Keeping with the adventure motif, the fair will take on a bit of a Jurassic Park feel from “Walking With Giants,” an interactive, California-based show that will feature moving animatronic dinosaurs that children can crawl and play on, and pose for a picture with. The show will be in the Schrader Building Entertainment Area.
Children also may get a kick out of another daily show called “Pirates of the Colombian Caribbean,” in the Kiddie Land Entertainment Area.
It’s an aerial high-wire thrill extravaganza, where pirate-dressed performers sword fight, rope slide, and take on other stunts on high-wire 20 feet in the air on top of a giant 60-foot pirate ship and a 35-foot rotating “wheel of death.”
“Kids love pirates, so it’ll be a cool show,” Thompson said.
A fair staple — Trenton Tye’s Purgatory Ironworks — returns this year, at the Clayton Way Entertainment Area. It features 1800s-era blacksmith demonstrations on how to make horseshoes, instruments and other tools, from a guy who’s been featured on The History Channel’s “Forged in Fire.”
While all that is going on, the Dan Cannon Auditorium again will be hopping with a variety of music choices throughout the week.
A bluegrass show will be headlined by Little Roy and Lizzy, who Thompson called “legendary” and “icons” in the bluegrass world. They are scheduled to perform on Feb. 19 at 6 p.m.
A gospel show will be headlined by Greater Vision, an award-winning band based out of Morristown, Tennessee. They are scheduled to perform Feb. 20 at 6 p.m. “We expect a full auditorium that night,” Thompson said.
There also will be a Latin flair, with a concert from Baja Zero, a Mexican-themed music group made up of Florida natives. That particular show, scheduled for Feb. 23 at 2 p.m., is already drawing a buzz, as Thompson said there’s been “numerous comments on people excited about this coming up at the fair.”
A new feature at the fairgrounds is a rest and relaxation area, provided by AdventHealth, Thompson said. That area also will have phone-charging stations.
Foodies will find plenty to like at this year’s fair with myriad offerings available along the independent midway, said Jim Ward, vice president of the Pasco County Fair Association and the event’s concessions manager.
In addition to traditional fair grub, such as pizza, corn dogs and cotton candy, Ward said there’ll be new vendors offering items like deep-fried tacos, fried ravioli on a stick, a grilled cheese bar, and even alligator meat — in the form of gator tail, gator nuggets and gator gumbo.
In total, the fair expects about two dozen food vendors, Ward said.
“For a small county fair, we do have some top food out there,” Ward said, noting every year fair organizers try to attract exciting new food vendors to the event.
Those visiting the fairgrounds may notice a few upgrades on the property, too.
Pasco Fair president R.J. Huss said the Higgins Hall building underwent a $200,000 renovation, equipped with “state-of-the-art, industry-leading vendor electrical hookups.” The renovations come after a transformer caught fire in the building at last year’s fair, knocking out power for some vendors.
Higgins Hall and the Schrader Building, and Poultry have been freshly painted, too, Huss said. The fair association president also mentioned a brand-new sound system is being installed in the Agriculture Barn.
Meanwhile, Huss said the fair association is looking at other measures “to try to improve the aesthetics of the ground” for future years.
For more information about the fair, visit PascoCountyFair.com.
Pasco County Fair
When: Feb. 17 through Feb. 23 (Hours vary)
What: Rides, food, games, entertainment, livestock and exhibits
Where: Pasco County Fairgrounds, 36722 State Road 52, Dade City
Cost: Admission is $10 for adults, $5 for children ages 6 through 12; parking is free. Discounted gate and ride tickets are available online at PascoCountyFair.com.
Info: Visit PascoCountyFair.com, call (352) 567-6678, or email ">.
Published February 05, 2020