WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. - The South Florida Fair has opened its gates for the 100th year. The crowds were swarming the fairgrounds in suburban West Palm Beach Friday. Up to 600,000 visitors are expected to visit the fair this year, which could have an impact on the regional economy.
They come for the rides. They come for the food. For 100 years, the South Florida Fair has been a Sunshine State pastime.
"I've lived in Florida 17 years. This is my first time ever coming here," said Tiffany Vittas of Boynton Beach, who is experiencing the fair with her daughter, Addison, for the first time.
Getting this fair up and running each winter is no easy task. John Picano serves as public relations manager for the fair. He understands that this event is full of both history and surprises.
"It's still here. It's very vibrant," said Picano. "It's a big part of Palm Beach County economically and entertainment wise."
Aside from the fun and the food menu - sausage, cotton candy, funnel cake, etc. - the fair itself is also very large. Between a half million and 600,000 people may walk through the gates this year alone.
Adult admission is $15. For senior citizens, admission is $9. For children, it costs $8. A wristband for all day, unlimited rides costs between $25 and $35, depending on the day. When you add in the cost of food and drinks, Picano says a family of four likely won't leave the fairgrounds without spending one hundred dollars.
"It's local and they do find room in their family budgets to come to the fair," he said.
"I think it's overpriced, but it's something I'm willing to pay for," said Jene Greenlee of Lantana, who visits the fair each year.
No matter the cost, the crowds return. It is a local tradition, fairgoers say, that spans generations.
The South Florida Fair runs through January 29. For more information on admission and events at the fair, click here.