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Where deep fried Oreos meet racing pigs

Roller coasters, circuses and safaris don’t usually coincide, but the Florida State Fair is not your typical everyday activity.

Renowned for featuring a mixed bag of amusements for people of all ages, the fair has been delivering its unique brand of fun to the Tampa Bay area for more than a century with no signs of slowing down. Running through Feb. 19, the 103rd annual event offers Florida residents a wide variety of entertainment.

Making its fair debut, Circus Hollywood brings the Coronas – a troupe of internationally renowned daredevils, trainers, clowns, aerialists and acrobats – to the Tampa Bay area. Circus Hollywood features performances from Hollywood Friesian horses, Hollywood Racing Pigs and the only traveling safari in North America, featuring more than 50 exotic animals.

In addition, the Fair possesses a midway three quarters of a mile-long, complete with three steel roller coasters, an illuminated patriot wheel, two giant Ferris wheels and a 60-foot Wave Swinger. A Monkey Maze Fun House and a Paint Ball Megarena join the existing activities this year.At the Southern Chevy Dealers Expo Hall, a number of vendors are contributing to the festivities. While the entire line of 2007 Chevrolet vehicles will be on display, the Florida Lottery offers a chance to play its “Spin-to-Win” game, Alessi Bakery provides snacks and Soda Club U.S.A. presents visitors with the opportunity to make their own sodas.

For music lovers, Seminole Hard Rock Hotel and Casino presents “Music That Spans the Decades,”which features a different performer each day. Also in the Entertainment Hall on Feb. 15 at 2 p.m. and 6 p.m., a host of country music legends such as Leroy Van Dyke & the Auctioneers and Lacy J. Dalton will perform in the Fair’s “Country Gold Tour 2007.”

Children will also find plenty to do at the fair. For example, Cracker Country gives kids the opportunity to marvel at a collection of model train sets, make candles or simply explore the old-time atmosphere. For the aspiring handyman, Home Depot is holding workshops in which children can learn tool safety tips and do-it-yourself skills or even work on a project they can bring home with them.

The fair is one of the area’s most heralded traditions and intends to unite Florida residents in a yearly celebration, and the breadth of entertainment available is a testament to the state’s commitment to building and strengthening the community.

Feb. 16, 18 and 19 are Pepsi Armband Days at the fair. For $25 armbands can be purchased which entitle the bearers to unlimited rides.

For more information on the Fair, visit the official Web site at