TAMPA -- Attendance at February's Florida State Fair, plagued by this year by poor weather and rampaging teens, was down 11 percent compared to last year, its governing authority said.
Attendance this year was 382,418 during the 12 days of the fair. It was 442,910 last year, said Jennifer O'Brien, spokeswoman for the Florida State Fair Authority.
Poor weather during the first weekend of the fair was the main factor for the drop in attendance, O'Brien said. Publicity of chaos during a student day on the first Friday also may have contributed to lower attendance the second weekend, she said.
Hillsborough students get the day off from school and free admission on the first Friday of the fair. Each year, unsupervised minors get into fights with each other, steal from other fair patrons and batter Sheriff's deputies, authorities said in February. During the student day this year, deputies ejected 99 people and arrested 12 others, 16 of them young adults and the rest age 17 and younger.
One of the teens kicked out of the fair by deputies, 14-year-old Andrew Joseph III, died while crossing Interstate 4 that first Friday. He was not accused of any crimes.