While the Midway Sky Eye -- North America’s largest portable Ferris wheel -- grabs headlines ahead of its debut at the 2018 South Florida Fair, there are plenty of other new features to check out at the popular event, which runs from Jan. 12-28.
Here’s a look at seven new ways you can have fun at the fair:
1. The theme: This year’s theme is “magical parades.” Eight parade floats will be on display in the Expo Center, and there will be daily themed parades, including the Chinese New Year Parade on Jan. 12 and the Rose Petal Parade on Jan. 22.
2. Indoor carousel: The fair for the first time is going to have an indoor carousel, located in the Expo Center.
3. Gourmet popcorn: The West Palm Beach-based Bulk Candy Store is a popular fair feature for its massive tent filled with candy for sale. This year, Bulk Candy Store is adding 16 flavors of gourmet popcorn including peanut butter and jelly, said Rick Vymlatil, president and CEO of South Florida Fair and Palm Beach County Expositions Inc. Popcorn “is a big seller at the fair for a lot of people,” Vymlatil said. “People like to buy it and munch on it as they walk around.”
4. More paved areas and new lighting: Fans of the fair’s agricultural exhibits will have smoother access this year. Vymlatil said some capital improvements were made in the fairgrounds’ off-season, including new paving in the agricultural area and new lighting in the parking lots.
5. A shiny red caboose: An old Seaboard Coast Line Railroad caboose is the latest addition to Yesteryear Village, the 10-acre history park on the fairgrounds’ north side. Vymlatil said the fair has tried to get a rail car for about 20 years, and finally found one that now is on permanent loan from an anonymous donor. It arrived at Yesteryear Village about two weeks ago, he added. Visitors will be able to walk through the car once it is refurbished. “It’s bright red and you can’t miss it when you’re driving into the parking lot,” Vymlatil said.
6. The food: Last year, it was tater tots. This year, it’s hash browns, as one of the fair’s food vendors serves up hash brown sandwiches. Not sure what that is? Take two hash brown patties, and put something edible between them. That’s a hash brown sandwich. And of course the fan-favorite hot dogs, burgers, funnel cakes and fried Oreos will return.
7. The music: New this year to the fair’s live performance line-up are contemporary Christian performer Matthew West, country rock group Nitty Gritty Dirt Band and country singer Chris Lane. Grand Funk Railroad returns for a third performance at the fair. A Martin Luther King Jr. Day celebration on Jan. 15 will feature gospel performers.
If you go
What: South Florida Fair
When: Jan. 12-28; hours vary by day
Where: South Florida Fairgrounds, 9067 Southern Blvd., West Palm Beach
Cost: In advance: $10 for ages 12 and up, $5 for ages 6-11, $7 for ages 60 and older. At gate: $15 for ages 12 and up, $8 for ages 6-11, $9 for ages 60 and older.
Information and full schedule: 561-793-0333 or www.southfloridafair.com