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Carnival & Fair News
Carnival & Fair News
Florida's Osceola County Fair posts solid year
Wednesday, March 28, 2018
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The Osceola County Fair is held each year at the Osceola Heritage Park in Kissimmee, Florida. The 10 day event, which begins on the second Friday in February, includes agriculture and livestock shows and exhibits paired with exciting midway attractions by carnival provider Strates Shows Inc.

When it comes to general entry, adult tickets cost $5.00 while children ages 5-11 and senior citizens have a ticket price of $3. Children 4 and under get in for free with an adult. 

Attendance this past February was well over 95,000. It's a number that pleases Miranda Muir, the general manager of the event for the Kissimmee Valley Livestock Show & Osceola County Fair, "Two years ago we switched to electronic ticketing so we have real numbers now. Everyone who comes is scanned," Muir explains that they always estimated and hoped that they had attendance in that range prior to starting electronic ticketing. Now they know for sure. Attendance is higher than it was last year. "To be able to say that we're at that 95,000 mark with hard numbers is fantastic."

The event boasted two record breaking days this year as well. The first Saturday brought in big crowds, which was no surprise, but so did Monday, February 12th. The day was a huge success because of Carload Night, a promotional event that upped attendance with a $50 per carload deal that included entry and unlimited rides. 

The promotion stipulated that every person inside each vehicle must have a seatbelt to go along with them, so it wasn't anything like the days of drive-in movie theaters when stowaways snuck in by hiding in car trunks jokes Jimmy Strates of Strates Shows Inc. Still, he says the promo was a great way to drive attendance up on a day when smaller crowds were expected, "You can take a weak day and turn it into a solid day." Strates says of the promo, he adds that this year the 2018 Osceola County Fair was a great one. "We had a very solid year, one of the biggest years we have ever had."

Strates Shows has worked with Kissimmee Valley Livestock Show to provide the midway at the Osceola County Fair for about twelve years now. "It's right out our backdoor," says Strates, whose company is based in nearby Orlando, Florida. "It's a great place to start the season." He says that Osceola County Fair is the first official event of the year for Strates Shows, though they are still wrapping up some holiday events in early January. 

One thing that makes the Osceola County Fair unique is the location in the sprawling county-run park grounds. "They've got a beautiful park that the fair occupies," says Strates.  

"We have wonderful infrastructure and facilities," Muir adds, crediting the relationship between Kissimmee Valley Livestock Show and the county with much of the success of the event. Thanks to these great ammenities the fair is not only fun, but conveinent for attendees who are both young and old. 

Plus they are always adding more things to do and see at this fair. Muir says that one new addition that impressed younger fair-goers this year was the HAYLOFT exhibit, which was housed in an 11,000 square foot tented structure full of free agriculture activities for kids to enjoy. Children were able to play games that included harvesting oranges and milking cows.  

"Our area is becoming very urban and a lot of kids in school these days have no idea where milk comes from or where their food comes from," Muir says. This exhibit entertained and educated many young visitors who also enjoyed a ninja event and pig racing.

Meanwhile, Salute To Seniors day welcomed guests who were 60 years old and up for a day of free admission and special festivities. The older crowd enjoyed Elvis and Ann-Margret impersonators who got the entire audience dancing like it was the good old days.

Strates notes that his most popular ride this year was one that can be enjoyed by guests of all ages; the classic ferris wheel. "The ferris wheel was probably the number one grosser and that's because everyone rides it. We have the thrill rides, but grandma doesn't want to ride them and neither do the little kids. The ferris wheel has the most general appeal. It's for everyone."

The Osceola County Fair also hosts the Silver Spurs Rodeo, which is Rodeo Day for kids. This special day is sponsored by the Kissimme Utility Authority so that all kids can attend for free. The local public school actually gets the day off for Rodeo Day instead of Presidents Day! The Silver Spurs Rodeo is the largest rodeo east of the Mississippi and has been a part of Osceola history since 1941. It's a big draw for fair patrons. 

Strates says that acts like this boost ticket sales for his rides. "It's a really big contributer to midway success. Big entertainment draws people before and after."

Other entertainment acts included Nashville recording artists Kari & Billy who performed a great show and held a live karaoke contest. Kandu Magic Show Plus Wild and Wacky Game Show brought out the younger crowd.

Next year will be the 75th anniversary of the Osceola County Fair. Since that year is traditionally known as the diamond anniversary it's rumored that the sparkling gem will be the theme for the 2019 event.

"We're ready for 75," says Muir who is currently at work planning for the 2019 fair. She aims to make it an even better year than this one. "We're just getting started!" 

Strates is excited for the anniversary too, but he isn't relying on the big number alone to bring people out to the fair next year. "We have to be the ones to make it a bigger year," Strates says.  He says he plans to do that by working on more promotions, adding new products and a giving continued attention to customer service that his hundred year old, family owned company is known for. On top of that, he's also hoping for great weather. "We'll do our end and hope that mother nature does her end," he says.

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