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At the Florida State Fair, enjoy animals, rides and food on a stick

The Florida State Fair has long offered up edible oddities, one of our favorite parts of the annual feast of rides, shows and competitions. • This year, organizers are bringing to the masses something foodies have been touting for months: chocolate-covered bacon. • The combination sounds disgusting, yet it intrigues us. Bacon? With chocolate? It has the potential to be a greasy blob of ick — or the greatest thing since deep-fried Pepsi. • The fair opens at 9 a.m. today at the Florida State Fairgounds, on Interstate 4 at U.S. 301 in Tampa. Times staff writer

Hours and admission

Gates open daily at 9 a.m.; closing time varies. Monday through Friday, admission is $10 for ages 12 and older, $5 ages 6 to 11. Saturday and Sunday, admission is $12 for 12 and older, $6 for ages 6 to 11. Five and younger free all days. Parking is free.

Admission specials: Adults 55 and older can get in for $6 on Tuesday, Wednesday and Feb. 12. Student discount days are Friday and Feb. 16; admission is $6 for ages 12 through 12th grade, $5 ages 6 to 11.

We the Kings perform at noon Feb. 16 at the Ford Amphitheatre; free concert and gate admission with a student ticket distributed to Pinellas, Polk, Manatee and Sarasota county public students (good on this day only).

Ride discounts: On opening day, armbands are $20 each (good after 3 p.m. today only). Otherwise, armbands are $30 each and may be used for unlimited rides on any one of five days (Friday, Sunday, Feb. 13, 15, 16). Note: Gate admission is not included in the armband price.

New this year

In addition to the livestock competitions, animal shows and live music, the fair has some new attractions. Highlights include:

• Live Shark Encounter, at 1, 3 and 5 p.m. daily: A trained diver swims with sharks in a 9,000-gallon tank.

• Florida Ranch Rodeo, at 2 and 7 p.m. Wednesday and Feb. 12: Wild cow milking, stampede races, bronc riding and more.

• Jack Russell terrier races, 3 p.m. Sunday.

For additional details, call (813) 621-7821 or toll-free 1-800-345-3247, or go to floridastatefair.com.

At the Florida State Fair, enjoy animals, rides and food on a stick 02/04/09 [Last modified: Friday, February 6, 2009 1:12am]
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