South Florida Fair
The logo of the South Florida Fair.
|Slogan||"Share the Fair"|
|Location||West Palm Beach, Florida|
|Owner||Palm Beach County|
|Previous names||Palm Beach County Fair|
|Operating season||January 16 - February 1, 2015|
The South Florida Fair is an annual fair held in West Palm Beach, Florida, every January or February. The fairgrounds site occupies 100 acres (0.40 km2; 0.16 sq mi) and is located on the site of the former Palm Beach Speedway at the intersection of Southern Boulevard (US 98/SR 80) and Fairground Road. It is set up to make it adjacent to the Cruzan Amphitheatre. Nearly 500,000 people attended the South Florida Fair each year.
The fair features a midway of rides, games, and concessions, themed exhibition halls, an agricultural and livestock agriplex, and smaller exhibition areas. There is also Yesteryear Village, a history park on the northeastern corner of the property.
The fair began as the Palm Beach County Fair in March 1912, the Great Depression caused the South Florida Fair to operate with only a midway before ceasing to operate at all in 1937 also due to the effects from the Great Depression. The attack on Pearl Harbor in December 1941 disrupted plans to restore the South Florida Fair in 1942. The fair resumed in 1946 at the Palm Beach International Airport, it was moved off of that site when the Airport began to operate during the Korean War. The Fair was moved to the Palm Beach Speedway from 1953-1955 and it was also incorporated in 1953. Again, the location was moved to the campus of Palm Beach Community College in 1956; the property was later given back to the college.
In 1957, the fair was moved from John Prince Memorial Park. Finally, in 1958, the Palm Beach Speedway was purchased and is still the current location of the fair. The fair was renamed to its present day name for the 1960 event.
The South Florida Fair and Palm Beach County Expositions, Inc. is a 501(c)(3) non-profit corporation organized and existing pursuant to Chapter 616 of the Florida Statutes. It has a Board of Trustees that consists of 17 people who are responsible for setting policy and seeing that management of the association is carried out under direction of an executive staff consisting of the President/CEO and currently two Vice Presidents. The Fair also has Directors who serve in an advisory capacity. There are currently 55 Directors. The Trustees and Directors are non-paid volunteers. The day-to-day operation is the responsibility of the President, Rick Vymlatil, who oversees a staff of over 45 full-time employees.
According to a study released in 2000 by Economic Research Associates, Inc., the South Florida Fairgrounds generated a total economic impact of $149,924,000 in 1999. This was prior to the development of the Expo East Exhibit Hall, the enhancement of Yesteryear Village (including the new Bink Glisson and the Sally Bennett "Big Band Hall of Fame") and the aggressive marketing of the Americraft Expo Center exhibit floor space. In addition, the Cruzan Amphitheatre alone is estimated to generate an economic impact in excess of $20 million. But not only does the Fair generate a significant economic impact, it makes a substantial annual cash distribution to the youth of this area from its own resources. In the 2007/08 fiscal year, the South Florida Fair paid in excess of $200,000 in scholarship and 4-H premium awards, compensation to choruses and bands performing during the annual Fair, and contributions to Palm Beach County schools through its Partners-In-Education Advance Ticket program.
Approximately 135 acres (0.55 km2) comprise the real property commonly referred to as the "Fairgrounds". In 1957, Palm Beach County gave the Fair 100 acres (0.40 km2) at its present site but later took back 20 acres (81,000 m2) for the stockade. This contribution was made in consideration of the Fair agreeing to relocate from John Prince Park in order that the County could vie for a state university (PBCC). Generally, the Fairgrounds is segregated into several pods or tracts: the parking tracts, Yesteryear Village, the Cruzan Amphitheatre, and the exhibit buildings, including the Americraft Expo Center and the Agriplex. The space available on the Fairgrounds for trade shows and exhibits exceeds 200,000 square feet (19,000 m2). During the annual South Florida Fair, the southern parking tract is utilized as the "midway" containing rides, shows, games, and concessions.
The main event on the Fairgrounds is the annual South Florida Fair, which occurs over a 17-day period, generally in the last two weeks of January each year. Over the past several years, the annual fair has incorporated a theme as a means of stimulating tourism as well as the educational and cultural interest of the residents of Palm Beach County. For instance, "Florida" was featured at the 1998 fair and "Alaska"; "Tales of the American West"; "New England"; "Hollywood"; "Having a Ball"; "Dreams, screams, thrills, chills"; "Party with the Animals"; and "A World of Fun" were showcased in previous fairs. One of the greatest aspects of the annual fair is its agricultural and livestock exhibits which clearly provide the greatest variety of such exhibits anywhere within Palm Beach County. Even though agriculture is such a tremendous part of Palm Beach County’s economic base, many school children have never been exposed to it. However, at the annual South Florida Fair, not only can they see and learn all about agriculture, but can even witness a calf being born, or learn how a dairy is operated. The annual fair attracts nearly 500,000 people through its turnstiles. However, 650,000 people will attend various events on the Fairgrounds on an annual basis. Besides the 150,000 ft (46,000 m). Americraft (now South Florida Fair) Expo Center, there are 10 other smaller exhibit buildings along with the Cruzan Amphitheater, Agriplex,Palm Beach Model Railroaders and Yesteryear Village. These events constitute 250 event days.
Yesteryear Village is a history park on 10 acres (0.040 km2; 0.016 sq mi), showcasing buildings and artifacts from the 1850s to the 1950s. It exhibits a large collection of early, original, and replicated buildings, including an old school, a farm, a blacksmith shop, a general store, a church, a fire department, a post office, a bait & tackle shop, and the famed Riddle House. Included is the only big band museum in the United States, the Sally Bennett Big Band Hall of Fame Museum. Guided tours are available.
- "FairFacts". Palm Beach Post. 2010. Retrieved 2010-01-15.
- "South Florida Fair". Sun Fun Guide. 2010. Retrieved 2010-01-15.
- Kleinberg, Eliot (July 24, 2002). "South Florida Fairgrounds Replaced Speedway In 1958". Palm Beach Post. Retrieved 15 February 2010.
- "Who We Are". South Florida Fair & Palm Beach County Expositions, Inc. Retrieved 2010-01-15.
- Kleinberg, Eliot (2006). Palm Beach Past: The Best of "Post Time". The History Press. pp. 52–53. ISBN 978-1-59629-115-7. Retrieved 2009-01-13.
- "About the Park". South Florida Fair & Palm Beach County Expositions, Inc. Retrieved 2011-01-09.