Make us your home page

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

The State Fair turns to Superheroes for a boost

TAMPA — Who wins in a superhero fight between the Gallant Gordita and Cotton Candy?

One wears a foam taco hat and has the power to feed the hungry — fairgoers, perhaps. The other, dressed in sleek pink, spreads cheer and sweetness.

Really, it doesn't matter, because if chosen to be part of the League of Fair-ness the two would work together to promote the Florida State Fair, which comes to Tampa in February. The real enemy: the Unfair Five — unseen forces that keep people from having fun.

At least three winners will be chosen to represent the fair in its upcoming marketing efforts.

So how does a superhero land a gig around here? It starts with American Idol-like auditions Thursday and today at the fairgrounds. As the first round of hopefuls made their pitches, it was apparent that the $20 to $25 an hour the winners will make isn't enough because only five showed up. That, or people were busy at their day jobs.

Contestant No. 1, who went by Golden Lark, strayed a bit from the guidelines of molding a character around one of the fair's aspects — food, animals, rides or games — but he certainly impressed the judges with his enthusiasm.

Stephen Shuey, 26, dressed as Golden Lark, wore a brown jerkin and purple cloth mask with prescription eyeglass lenses glued into it.

His super powers are enhanced strength, agility and intelligence. His love for fruits and vegetables are a far cry from the myriad deep-fried foods the fair offers.

"The Florida Stare Fair is the time to gain the most weight," said Shuey, a University of South Florida student. "Then fighting super villains is when I lose it."

Next came the Gordita Gallant, played by 23-year-old Justin Lawrence. He strung together his outfit with football tights, an old Halloween costume and the foam hat with the Taco Bell logo. He also wears gloves to protect his hands from the heat of gorditas and sunglasses to block the food "splatter" that he might encounter.

"The principle behind the Gallant Gordita is to try to take care of the average person who (needs) an extra boost when they're running low on fuel," said Lawrence, who attends Pasco-Hernando Community College. "With my abilities and powers, I'd find a way to feed those people and get them the proper Mexican nutrition."

Cotton Candy, also known as Jennifer Moriarty, was short on words for the judges. But she might be able to relate to that little kid at the fair whose sweet tooth begs for a sugar-filled snack.

"I think I make people smile," said Moriarty, 43, "because I'm so sweet."

Kevin Smetana can be reached at or (813) 661-2439.

If you go

Auditions for the League of Fair-ness continue today from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. at the Florida State Fairgrounds, 4800 N U.S. 301, Tampa.

Winners will make public appearances and help market and promote the Florida State Fair, which comes to Tampa in February.

Video auditions can be submitted at For more information, go to the Web site or call (813) 621-7821.

The State Fair turns to Superheroes for a boost 10/29/09 [Last modified: Friday, October 30, 2009 2:32pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. Tampa girl, 4, dies of gunshot reaching for candy


    TAMPA — One day last week, 4-year-old Yanelly Zoller reached into her grandmother's purse looking for candy, her father says.

    Nelly Zoller snuggles with her grandfather's dog, Venus. Her father says she went looking for candy in her grandmother's purse and found a gun instead. [Facebook]
  2. Mikhail Sergachev begins real Lightning audition vs. Carolina Hurricanes

    Lightning Strikes

    RALEIGH, N.C. — The spotlight will remain on Mikhail Sergachev throughout the Lightning preseason.

    Tampa Bay Lightning defenseman Mikhail Sergachev (98) on the ice during hockey training camp in preparation for the 2017-2018 season in Brandon Friday morning (09/15/17). DIRK SHADD   |   Times  

  3. Tampa police search for man in connection to Sunday killing (w/ video)


    TAMPA — Police released surveillance video of a man they believe might have information about a Sunday morning fatal shooting.

  4. Pinellas announces Hurricane Irma make-up day


    The Pinellas County school district has announced how it will make up one of the seven school days missed by Hurricane Irma.

    Residents make their way into Joseph L. Carwise Middle School to shelter ahead of Hurricane Irma Sunday, Sept. 10, 2017 in Palm Harbor. The storm is forecasted to affect the Tampa Bay area overnight with winds subsiding Monday.
  5. Hooper: Hillsborough marks 100th anniversary of historic photo collection


    Everyone ends up with a favorite.

    Or two or three or 10.

    Rest assured, no one who adores Tampa Bay, appreciates art or cherishes history can explore the Burgert Brothers Photographic Collection without storing at least one snapshot in the mental scrapbook.

    Part of the Burgert Brothers collection now featured through the Hillsborough Public Library shows a beer garden on Central Avenue in Tampa from July 1942. [Burgert Brothers collection]