Florida State Fair Comes to Tampa February 8-19th, 2018

The Florida State Fair is coming to Tampa February 8–19, 2018. Visitors can enjoy shows, rides, agribusiness, “Cracker Country”, equestrian center, FAIR FOOD and more.

Chicken and Waffle Pizza

I haven’t been to a State Fair in… at least 25 years… but THIS is the year I’m coming back. My, albeit fuzzy, memories of it centered around the rides and of course the food. On the menu: all the standards you’ve come to love and expect from a fair (think hot dogs, corn dogs, funnel cakes, strawberry shortcake, kettle corn, elephant ears, cotton candy, BBQ, gyros, giant pretzels, fried Oreos, ) and then some on-no-they-didn’t creations including Chicken and Waffle pizza, Surf N Turf Sundae, Bacon Bomb Sandwich, Doughnut Burgers and Deep Fried Strawberry Shortcake Sundaes.

Speaking of food, find out what The Sunshine State provides and be inspired to start a sustainable garden. Located just outside Gate 3, the Florida State Fair Learning Garden will give guests a “taste” of what it takes to grow your own plants. 

I enjoy learning new things and look forward to the interactive displays. Want to see how artisans spin yarn? Caroline Tacker from St. Petersburg will be demonstrating her craft to visitors. Stop by and say hi, and thank her for creating all-natural washcloths for chemo patients who have sensitive skin and cannot use regular washcloths. #KickCancer

My son is excited to ride tons of rides with his ride arm band. He’ll be tilting, whirling, zigging and zagging. (We’d best try the fair food after all that excitement!)

World’s LARGEST WORKING LEGO roller coaster

He’s also going to be glued to the Ninja Experience show. The martial arts experts will wow with their extreme breaking, kicking, and flipping that the whole family will enjoy. There will be three free shows daily at 11:30 am; 3:30 and 6:30 pm (included with ticket price). I know he’ll also go wild over the world’s largest working LEGO roller coaster built by Local Brick Artist James Burrows from The Brick University in Spring Hill.

There are so many things to do and see. Too many to list on this page without writing for hours! Visit the Florida State Fair Facebook page or their website to hear about performances and more. There’s a TON to do. Follow Florida State Fair on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and YouTube for the lowdown on all things Florida State Fair!.

Mooove on over to the Salute to Ag Exhibit. Visit beef cows, dairy cows, chickens and a variety of other animals. Maybe you’ll be able to bottle feed a baby calf, hold a baby chick, or watch a calf being born in the Moo-ternity Ward!

While we’re talking social, visit my Instagram post and comment on my State Fair post for a chance to win 4 tickets! Hurry! One random poster will be selected at random to win Tuesday, February 6, 2018 at 5:30 p.m.

Want more chances to win tickets? And love pizza? Check out the Hungry Howie’s pizza eating contest. While there’s no way I’d win THAT one, it’s going to be fun to watch. One lucky winner will receive pizza for a year!

I was given 8 admission tickets to the Florida State Fair in exchange for this post. All comments, opinions, and little-girl excitement are mine.


Don’t miss Kazual’s smooth a capella harmonies on the Sleep Number Stage with FREE shows daily at noon, 2 PM and 5 PM.

Meet Paw Patrol’s Chase & Marshall Feb. 8-11 at 10:30 AM, 12:30 PM & 5:00 PM in the northwest corner of Expo Hall.

Catch all the excitement of Circus Hollywood at 12:15, 2:30 and 5:30 pm everyday from Feb. 9-20.

Tampa Zoo $10 Deal Through September 26

Through September 26, Florida Residents can enjoy a day at Tampa’s Lowry Park Zoo for just $10 per person (ages 3 and up)!

LowryParkZooCollageMake a quick escape to Africa, Asia or Australia – no passport required. Tampa’s Lowry Park Zoo features 1,000 amazing animals on nearly 60 acres of natural habitats. Guests will find many interactive exhibits and opportunities to get closer to wildlife — feed a giraffe, hold a lorikeet, touch a stingray and more. The Zoo’s Manatee and Aquatic Center expands the traditional boundaries of a zoo, focusing efforts on critical care for injured, sick and orphaned wild manatees. Also at the Zoo: splash ground water play areas, rides and educational shows.

The special September savings offer is valid for daytime admission Sept. 17-26 for Florida residents only (ages three years and up). Adults must present valid state issued identification at ticket windows. Offer may not be combined with any other discounts.

Check out their other upcoming events: http://www.lowryparkzoo.com/calendar_events.php

See “Sea Lion Splash” Before It Slips Away

Time is running out! Now through May 31 visit some of the slipperiest Sea Lions you’ll ever want to meet at Tampa’s Lowry Park Zoo. This limited-time exhibition features coastal sea lions in all their splish-splash-iest glory educating audiences not only about themselves and their habitats along the coasts of Mexico, Central and South America, but also on conservation efforts through offering tips on keeping our earth beautiful by recycling.

Lowryzoo2014Just beyond the splash zone, you’ll find a huge inflatable slide (that, ahem, grownups can slide down as well!), a bounce house for smaller guests, a giant sandbox, specialty gift shop, and food kiosk with pool party-inspired food and beverages.

Admission to Sea Lion Splash is $2 per person in addition to Zoo general admission.

We were invited to visit to check out the exhibit and went with another homeschooling family, though we weren’t able to see everything at the zoo in the one day. Tampa and surrounding area residents: This is a great place to get an  annual pass. Not only is Lowry Park Zoo ranked one by Parents Magazine (read more about it here), and accredited by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (which is very important in my book) but there are lots of activities, rides, animals and more that are sure to keep you busy all year long.

We enjoyed using the KidQuest Science Adventures “Wild At the Zoo” workbook on our trip. We did a little research with it on the way, worked on it more at lunch, then reinforced what we learned on the way home. There were lots of cool activities. The kids in our group ranging in age from 1st to 4th grade especially liked working on Animal Profiles. We ran into a Docent in the Lorikeet Landing Aviary by the Asian Gardens and the kids were proud to have already learned what “docent” meant so they could share their knowledge with her, and ask questions in return!

Tampa’s Lowry Park Zoo is a kid-friendly zoo that has lots of activities for visitors young and old alike. We look forward to our next visit to see our favorite animals and meet a few more we missed the first time.

Visit Lowry Park Zoo before the month is out to see Sea Lion Splash!

PS Here’s a special link from Twinkl.com for teachers and homeschool moms of preschool to early-elementary students to help in
combining beginning word blends with Sea Lions!
http://www.twinkl.co.uk/resource/t-w2-20627-initial-letter-blends-on-sealions/alt338943 It’s free to join. Check them out.

Disclosure: I received tickets to visit Sea Lion Splash with no expectation for review or promotion. I did, however, enjoy it so much that I wanted to share my experience. All opinions are my own.

Sesame Street Star Oscar the Grouch Was the Star of our Party

Oscar the Grouch is not one of the performers in the Busch Gardens Safari of Fun Sunny Day Theater (there’s something in his contract about personal appearances, LOL). That didn’t, however, stop us from making him the STAR of my son’s 4th birthday party.

Our invitations told everyone that, in Oscar’s opinion, the party was his “cup of mud.” And it was. And how could he not be thrilled at all the garbage trucks, disgusting sounding (not tasting!) foods, and trashy games? My son decided Slimey the Worm should be next to Oscar, crawling into the wheel.

When guests arrived, they were greeted by a huge sign that read, “Scram! No, wait. C’mon in for the Party!” with a giant photo of the monster himself. All over the back yard trash cans, garbage trucks, and recycling bins could be seen. Normally I try to clean before company, but whoo hoo… when you have a trash-themed party it’s not nearly as high on the “to do” list. We even had an autographed photo of Oscar he sent to us with his regrets that he could not, alas, attend. (I’m serious about the personal appearances clause!)

On the menu were Messy Meatballs, Dirty Rice, Filthy Fondue, Oscar Green Guacamole, Trashy Tortilla Chips, Sloppy Joes, Green Goopy Salsa Verde, and Can-D. (Get it?! In the trash can… Candy!) The cake was a recycling truck with donuts for wheels, ginger bread men for drivers, Pepperidge Farm Pirouettes as exhaust pipes, and of course chocolate pudding in the back with crumbled up Oreos and graham crackers for dirt with gummy worms.

Oscar The Grouch and Garbage Truck

Due to a sudden downpour, we grabbed the gang and headed in to our resi-dump for craft time. Before the party a friend and I cut out pattern pieces for an Oscar puppet. We pre-cut the green face shape, two eyes with pupils, two one brown unibrow, and a black mouth. Using white craft glue and glue sticks, the kids did their best at approximating facial feature placement. (You’ll find pdf files for each of the parts to the puppet at the bottom of this post.)

Oscar the Grouch Puppets

(Thanks home improvement store for the paint stir stick handles which we glued on before the party so they could dry, and Miranda for your exceptional cutting skills.)

Game time was a lot of fun, as we borrowed some bins from our town’s recycling center. We put three labeled bins on each end of the “playing field.” One of each: metal, plastic, paper. In the center of the yard we had two bins facing each other, one green, one orange. Team orange lined up behind their bin, and green did likewise. These bins had various recycling items inside for team members to sort. (Hint: If you use metal soda cans, cut circles of construction paper slightly smaller than the can top and securely hot glue them on, so as not to have a cutting hazard from the sharp opening.) Each child grabbed an item and ran to the “end zone” where a referee was on hand to point to the right bin, as many of the kids couldn’t read the words yet! After a successful dunk, they ran back and tagged the team bin, and the next child would be off to recycle!

On a side note: We’re on a first-name basis with all of our city environmental services personnel. They are the nicest guys and wave at my son every single day they’re there. We bake cookies for them on special occasions and they couldn’t be kinder to our family. Show some love to your trash men: Baked goods or cold water on a hot day.

We really enjoy having our friends and family at our home for parties, but if we lived closer we would have been tempted to have our party at Busch Gardens this year. You can have a preschool part there! The cost includes admission (after 1 p.m.) and features pizza and cake at a special meet-and-greet. Then the kiddos get to be in VIP seating for the 4 p.m. Sesame Street show. (We didn’t have a show at our party, although I had planned on reading a story and having us sing “Oh I Love Trash!” Alas, the rain put a damper on the entertainment portion of the party.)

The Busch Gardens party cost is $49.95 plus tax which includes invitations, decorations, party favors, package pickup for presents and special treatment with some very special monsters. Guests who are Passport members are $23 per person.

They also have a Birthday add-on for people who are already attending a “Dine with Elmo and Friends” event. (The Dine with Elmo breakfast is $18 for adults and $13 for 3- to 9-year-olds. Lunch with Elmo and the gang will cost $22 for adults and $15 for children (ages 3-9). The add-on is a single charge that will provide your party with reserved seating, a cake, and a special birthday wish from the cast during the dine.

(Times, costs, and availability change from time to time, so be sure to visit http://www.buschgardens.com for current information.)

Say, I wonder if an adult can have their birthday party there? I’m over the preschool age—not saying HOW over!—but I STILL love those monsters.

Here are the pdf files you’ll need to create my adorable (IMHO) Oscar the Grouch puppets:

Oscar the Grouch Tongue; Oscar the Grouch Unibrow; Oscar the Grouch Eyes; Oscar the Grouch Face; Oscar the Grouch Mouth