by jon bosworth
It’s that time of year again. Hurricane season is waning and your appetite for various meats on sticks, animal smells and rides that appear as dangerous as the people operating them is strong. You can’t help it. No matter how bad the economy is, you simply can’t experience autumn in the South until you’ve hit the fair. We don’t get the benefit of leaves changing color or the consistent brisk winds of fall, so the only way to really immerse ourselves in the season is by going to a vast lot that spends most of the year empty and partaking in everything from kettle corn and funnel cake to beer pong tournaments and racing pigs. Well don’t wait because it’s already underway!
Sure, you could get your fix at any of the surrounding county fairs, but the truth is none of them compare to the grandeur or charm of the southern culture on the skids that is the Greater Jacksonville Agricultural Fair.
Since 1955 it has promised fun for the whole family and it’s cheap! -Let me rephrase that- It can be reasonably priced! (As long as you don’t participate in the midway games or ride any of the rides.) Admission is $4-5 for children 12 and under and $8 for most adults. Admission grants you access to all of the concerts, the exhibits in the Expo Center, and many of the shows. Pay the $25 Express Pass and you can get into the fair and a wristband for unlimited rides. Take note, however, many of the better rides do not accept the wristband.
We wouldn’t really be Entertaining U if we didn’t give you the annual scoop on all of the activities available to you and yours. Of course if you aren’t into reading about it here, you can always get all the info you need from jacksonvillefair.com. There are some discounts available for certain folks, check the website for those details or ask at the front gate.
The Great American Duck Race and Jump! The Ultimate Dog Show – In case you were afraid you’d live your whole life without seeing dressed up dogs jumping for Frisbees or ducks competing for top fowl, the fair is here to save the day. There are, of course, also racing pigs, an alligator show and a magic show. These events are ongoing.
Novembeer Fest – On Friday, November 7th from 8:30 pm until 11 pm in the hospitality tent. This event costs an extra $5, but who doesn’t drink more than $5 worth of beer? Anheuser-Busch will showcase more than 20 different selections of beer and malt liquors.
Kids Cupcake Decorating Contest – November 7th at 6 pm in Exhibit Hall A. While dad is getting tanked (again) at the Novembeer Fest, take the kids over to the cupcake contest. They get to decorate a cupcake and then eat it! If they come up with the best design and can refrain from eating it until the judge comes by, they might even win a prize!
Guitar Hero Tournament – Saturday November 8th from noon until 6 pm in the hospitality tent. Get ready to pit your best chops against every gamer that has been hiding their skills in their personal sanctuaries. Finally, not having a girlfriend can pay off! (Although the prize is not specified.)
Scholastic Chess Tournament – Saturday November 8th, from 1pm until 4 pm in Exhibit Hall A. This contest is open to students in grades K through 12. There is a $10 registration fee and the student must be registered by November 5th via mail or through mychessclub.us. But no parent has ever been prouder than the holder of a championship title from an agricultural fair. Except perhaps the parent of the winner of the Guitar Hero Tournament, because they hope their child will finally move out of the house.
Last Blast Celebration – Sunday November 11th from 3 pm until 7 pm will feature Christian rock! If you aren’t good enough for the Guitar Hero Tournament, then just bring your air guitar and your hip haircut to this good clean rock show featuring Matlock, One, Timothy Ryan Project and Red Letter Bullet. VIP seating is available for $12 per person, but otherwise this event is free with admission.
Cooking Contests – Almost every day at the fair has some cooking contest or other in Exhibit Hall A. There is a cake baking contest, a cake decorating contest, a Fleishmann’s Yeast Bake for the Cure Baking Contest, a Spam appetizer contest, a condensed milk baking contest, a chocolate dessert contest, a Malt-O-Meal cold cereal dessert-making contest and even a fried food contest.
Music – Musicians are featured almost every day at the fair. Mint Julep (11/2), Jason Michael Carroll (11/3), Lee Brice (11/4), Phil Vassar (11/5), POCO (11/6), EverLife (11/7), and Natural Truth (11/8). Live acts are free with admission and VIP seating is available for $12 more per person.