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Lee County Fair opens Thursday

By Staff | Feb 19, 2016

The Southwest Florida & Lee County Fair returns to the Lee County Civic Center next week.

Celebrating its 92nd year, the 11-day event showcases the importance of agriculture and education, along with home arts, and features a midway with rides, family entertainment and shows. Representing Charlotte, Collier, DeSoto, Glades, Hendry and Lee counties, it will be open Thursday to March 6.

“It’s a great community event,” Fran Crone, the fair manager, said on Thursday.

The event will open Thursday and Friday at 5 p.m., Saturdays and Sundays at 11 a.m., Feb. 29 and March 1 at 4 p.m., March 2 at 11 a.m., and then March 3 and 4 at 4 p.m. The closing times vary.

The Livestock Department consist of four barn areas, a show ring and horse arena, as well as grooming areas. Over 300 youth exhibitors from 4-H and Future Farmers of America programs will participate.

They can enter beef breeding, goats, horses, steer, swine and small animals.

“We have a lot of livestock shows scheduled,” she said.

The animals will go to market on March 5.

“They kids actually auction off their animals,” Crone said.

The public can participate in purchases.

Master Gardener workshops will be held throughout the fair on a variety of topics from growing hydroponically, to growing orchids. “Ask the Expert” will be held on March 2 from 12:30 to 3 p.m.

There is also the Creative Living and Home Arts Departments, with quilts, canning, cake decorating and creative art displays. Lee County Public Schools and 4-H clubs will have about 100 booths.

As of today, the online registration has closed.

“But they can still resister on site when they drop it off this weekend,” she said.

All divisions and categories can be found online at: swflcfair.com.

Last year, there were more than 1,500 exhibits, with $42,302 in awards handed out.

Officials estimated that there were over 104,000 visitors in 2015.

The midway features rides and games for adults and children of all ages.

“We have a new roller coaster this year,” Crone said, adding that there are now three of them.

On Friday nights, the fair runs a Moonlight Madness promotion from 8 p.m. to 1 a.m. For $25 per person, the price includes admission into the event and unlimited rides during the promotion.

For those looking to save money on other days, Mega Passes are available through Wednesday. The passes cost $25 each and include admission, as well as unlimited free rides during any one day.

“It’s a pre-sale only,” she said.

The family entertainment and shows will include the Pirates of the Colombian Caribbean Aireal Highwire Thrill Show, Banana Derby and Eduora Petting Zoo. Some of the new acts featured this year are Dale Scott’s Future of Magic Show, the Fire Fighter Training Show and Butterfly Encounter.

“We have a lot of entertainment,” Crone said, noting that some the new shows involve audience participation. “It is staggered throughout the day, so there’s something always going on.”

Located inside of the Lee County Civic Center, the Community Stage will host the local talent. The lineup includes the Port Charlotte High School Pirate Dance Team, inaugural 5th Grade Math Bee and the event’s Beauty Contest, along with local school dance groups, chorus ensembles and jazz bands.

Some of the strolling acts are Marc Dobson the “One Man Band,” Tadpole the Clown, Billy Bob and Loretta for “Those Funny Little People” – from America’s Got Talent – and Rock-it The Robot.

On March 2, seniors and veterans are invited to attend a special day of appreciation. Gate admission will be only $5, and the event opens at 11 a.m. There will be a senior dance contests, with prizes.

The children’s rides will be open, but the midway rides will not open until 4 p.m.

“That gives the grandparents some quality time on the rides with the little ones,” she said.

Admission for adults is $8 in advance or $10 at the gate, with children ages 6-11 are $4 in advance or $5 at the gate; children age 5 and under are free. Rides tickets are separate and must be purchased.

Parking is free.

For more information on the Southwest Florida & Lee County Fair, visit: swflcfair.com.

The Lee County Civic Center is at 11831 Bayshore Road in North Fort Myers.