MANATEE COUNTY — The Manatee County Fairgrounds will spring to life tonight as the 94th Manatee County Fair swings into action.
The annual event will run Jan. 14 through Jan. 24, at the Manatee County Fairgrounds, and will include livestock shows, a smorgasbord of food, a plethora of performances and concerts, pig races, talent shows and more.
Fair gates open at 5 p.m. Thursday, Jan. 14, with special pricing at $4 per person ages 13 and up and just $2 for children ages 6 to 12. Entry is normally $7 for individuals 13 and older, $6 for adults 55 and up, $5 for children ages 6 to 12 and free for children ages 5 and younger.
Special one-day mega passes are available until Jan. 15 at local Walgreens stores for $20 and include entry to the fair as well as unlimited access to rides in the midway.
Additionally, school-aged children can get in free from noon to 3 p.m. Monday, Jan. 18 and Friday, Jan. 22.
“Those are some values right there people can expect from the fair,” Fair Manager Dan West said.
This year’s fair activities include annual favorites such the All American High Dive Show, during which performers dive off a 90-foot platform, and the Grandpa Cratchet Show, as well as strolling acts such as Tall Tex and Ed and Geraldine Old Time Music.
Nightly livestock shows and sales begin opening night with the swine show at 6 p.m. An awards ceremony for 4-H and FFA students will be held at 7 p.m., Jan. 23, after all livestock judging and sales are complete.
“The livestock is a very integral part of our fair,” West said. “We always want to take our hats off to (the youth) because of the commitment they made to take care of these animals.”
West said this year’s music lineup also is sure to be a hit with performances from country-music stars John Anderson, Jake Owen, Gloriana and The Bellamy Brothers, as well as the Christian group, Mikeschair, among others.
“All of these groups have a tie to Florida, one way or another,” West said. “The group Gloriana — one of the ladies in the group was born in Sarasota. The Bellamy Brothers are from Pasco County, for example. We’re excited about all of them. They are going to have wonderful shows.”
West said this year’s fair is themed “Growing Again in 2010,” an idea inspired by this year’s census as well as the fact that a new building has been built on the fair grounds.
The new facility, an 18,000-square-foot exhibition hall, serves as a replacement for the old Ayers and Snyder buildings, which were demolished this summer and have traditionally been used to house fair events such as booths for businesses, school art and science fair entries.
“Those old building were really one-dimensional buildings,” West said. “This new building is a new building that can be used all year.”
Contractors broke ground on the $500,000 facility in October and finished Dec. 31, just in time for the fair, West said.
IF YOU GO
WHAT: Manatee County Fair
WHEN: Jan. 14 through Jan. 24; opening times vary by day.
WHERE: Manatee County Fairgrounds, 1303 17th St. W., Palmetto
ENTRY: $7 for individuals 13 to 54; $6 for adults ages 55 and up; $5 for children ages 6 to 12; and free for children ages 5 and under.
DETAILS: Concerts and shows, pig races, livestock shows and more
Daily fair activities include performances such as the Grandpa Cratchet and the All American High Dive shows, as well as pig races, strolling acts and more. For a complete schedule of events, visit www.manateecountyfair.com.
Jan. 14 — Swine show and concerts by Dennis Lee
Jan. 15 — Dairy and dairy showmanship shows and concerts by Dennis Lee
Jan. 16 — Annual barbecue competition, swine sale and concerts by Dennis Lee and The Bellamy Brothers
Jan. 17 — Dog show, middle- and high-school talent shows and concerts by Dennis Lee, Julianna Zobrist and Mikeschair
Jan. 18 — Cheerleading competition and a performance by the Sunshine Express Cloggers
Jan. 19 — Drum-line competition and goat show
Jan. 20 — Steer showmanship and concerts by Yesterdayze
Jan. 21 — Steer show and concert by John Anderson
Jan. 22 — Beef breeding and showmanship shows and concert by Rhonda Vincent and the Rage
Jan. 23 — Baby contest, martial-arts demonstration, 4-H/FFA awards ceremony and a concert by Jake Owen
Jan. 24 — Horse show and middle- and high-school talent showcase
Contact Pam Eubanks at email@example.com.