BROOKSVILLE — Strolling around the fairgrounds, munching an elephant ear or corn dog, watching cars crash and hopping on the Ferris wheel are staples of the springtime county fair.
A smaller version of the fair comes alive this weekend as Fall Fest on the Grounds opens today at the Hernando County Fairgrounds.
The event, which continues through Sunday, will include at least 13 midway rides, food and carnival games. Today's feature will be a demolition derby at 7 p.m. Saturday's main event will be the Battle of the Beasts truck and tractor pulls; arena gates open at noon with the main event at 4 p.m. On Sunday, a rock concert featuring local talent will kick off at 2 p.m.
Organizers are confident visitors will find plenty of entertainment.
"If this goes well, we're looking at this as a yearly event," said Sandra Nicholson, president of the Hernando County Fair Association.
The special events will be in the new arena that opened this year at the fairgrounds, which Nicholson said has received good reviews.
"It's bigger and laid out better than the old arena," she said. It includes sidewalks on both sides and an area for the disabled.
Fair association treasurer Shari Klimis said the new arena has brought numerous new shows to the fairgrounds, including a Paso Fino horse event during the summer, a number of concerts and the Monsters Gone Wild monster car show earlier this month.
"The feedback we receive (from event organizers) on the new arena has been overwhelmingly positive," Klimis said.
She cited an e-mail from the organizer of the monster truck show, in which he wrote that the arena is "truly one of the finest facilities in the state of Florida. … Hernando County officials should be proud."
Admission to the Fall Fest is free, but there is a $2 parking fee per vehicle. Money raised will be shared with the Hernando County Explorers. Sunday's concert is free. Tickets must be purchased for midway rides, as well as for the demolition derby and truck/tractor pull.
"This is an opportunity to stay home in Hernando County and still have a good time," Nicholson said. "It's something different, local and fun for kids of all ages."