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Florida State Fairgrounds – History and Events
Although the Florida State Fair has been held annually for over a century, the current state fairgrounds, located at the intersection of U.S. Hwy. 301 and I-4 in eastern Hillsborough County, has been hosting it only since 1977. The fair got its start in 1904 when the South Florida Fair Association was formed and began planning the event. Initially known as the South Florida Fair, it was held in downtown Tampa on a lot beside Henry B. Plant’s Tampa Bay Hotel, which is now the University of Tampa. The first fair offered races to bet on and a building full of agricultural exhibits.
In 1975, the Florida Legislature designated the annual expo in Tampa the official state fair and created a Florida State Fair Authority that decided the event needed a larger venue. It was moved to its current 330-acre site 2 years later. Since that time, the fair has expanded from its original agricultural roots to include midway rides and entertainment shows. However, agricultural displays still play a prominent role.
The Florida State Fair is the first state fair of the year and is always held in February. The dates for the 2018 event are Thursday, 8 February, through Monday, 19 February, Presidents’ Day.
Tickets to the state fair can be purchased online; at participating Publix supermarkets in Hillsborough, Pinellas, Polk, and Pasco counties; or at the fairgrounds box office, open from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., Monday through Friday.
In addition to the state fair, many other educational and entertaining events take place at the Florida State Fairgrounds throughout the year. Every January brings the annual RV Supershow, a 5-day exposition that just ended. One of the largest RV shows in the country, it featured 26 acres of all makes and models of RVs; over 450 vendors, including food vendors; and RVing seminars. There was even an RV set up where folks could get their hearing evaluated. Between the RV Supershow and the Florida State Fair, you can attend The Woodworking Show, Suncoast Sports Fest, and Florida Bridal and Wedding Expo. A list of events scheduled for the rest of 2018 can be found at Events Calendar.
Camping is available at the fairgrounds. The campground offers 150 full-hookup sites that can be reserved. There are also hotels nearby. Information on overnight accommodations can be found at
The Florida State Fairgrounds is located at:
4800 U.S. 301 North
Phone: (800) 345-3247
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