TAMPA — Hillsborough Sheriff deputies were briefing reporters about Florida State Fair security Monday at the same time a steer from the cattle barn decided to cause a public disturbance of its own.
The beast apparently had enough during a weigh-in that was part of the youth steer program around 2 p.m. He saw an opening and went for it.
Dashing for the border on the west side of the cattle barn, the black steer — weighing around 1,200 or 1,300 pounds — ran full speed ahead and cleared the fence with his front two legs.
"He got loose and ran into the midway, but all the noise scared him," said Vina Jean Banks, director of agribusiness.
Fair workers pointed and yelled as the steer hoofed its way past the equestrian building, onto the midway and then back to a nearby parking lot.
People took off in different directions in search of the renegade steer, either jumping on golf carts or sprinting after him in jeans and cowboy hats.
"Everyone wants to run at him, but that scares him even more," Banks said. The best way to catch a steer, Banks said, is to stay calm and move slowly. Within about 20 minutes, workers and some of the folks in cowboy boots were able to corral him and guide him onto a trailer.
"I've been here almost 20 years and I can't remember something like this happening," Banks said. A thousand-pound animal loose at the fair, particularly one that is upset or scared, could've been a bad situation, but Banks said she didn't hear of any related injuries.
Caitlin Johnston can be reached at [email protected] or (813) 661-2443.