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County fair plans are really hopping

They may not rank as typical barnyard favorites, but the newest non-human performers in this year's Pasco County Fair are sure to leap their way to popularity, fair officials say. Giant jumping frogs will compete in daily races when the fair kicks off Tuesday, said fair association secretary Dottie Sumner. Frog puppets also will perform daily in the "Uncle Froggle Show," she said. Gates to the fairgrounds, on State Road 52 in Dade City, open at 1 p.m.

"It's a first for us," Ms. Sumner said. "It should be a fun time for kids. It's going to be interesting."

Robinson's Racing Pigs, past fair favorites, are returning for another romp around the fairgrounds, Ms. Sumner said. Other animals on display include a Florida panther, a large alligator, various reptiles and the canine unit from the Pasco County Sheriff's Office. Show animals include chickens, rabbits, steer and heifers. The deadline for entering animals in the shows is 6 p.m. Monday.

Household animals also will have a place in the fair, Ms. Sumner said. A pet show open to all pet owners in Pasco County will be Thursday. The entry deadline is Tuesday. Ms. Sumner said some of the awards include most unusual pet, best dressed, most talented, most obedient, most talkative bird and best of show. All types of animals are welcome, as long as they are pets, Ms. Sumner said.

The annual parade signals the start of the 43rd Pasco County Fair. It begins at 11:30 a.m. Tuesday at Cox Elementary School, on Martin Luther King Boulevard in Dade City. The parade will head south on Seventh Street into the downtown area and end at Pasco Elementary School, near the fairgrounds.

Parade organizer Brenda Minton said this year's event has 80 entries, 10 more than last year. The streets will be filled with floats from businesses and civic groups, beauty queens, high school marching bands and horses and buggies. Ms. Minton said trophies will be given to the best entries in seven categories.

Other events include:

A baby pageant Tuesday and Wednesday evenings for children ages 1 to 5. The entry deadline is Monday.

A "Sewing Is Beautiful" fashion show Thursday. The entry deadline has passed.

A Senior's Dance Extravaganza from 1 to 5 p.m. Wednesday. Teachers from the Fred Astaire Dance Studio will teach eight different dance steps. Wednesday is Senior Citizens Day, and anyone older than 65 will be admitted to the fair for $2.

An arts and crafts show Saturday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Show coordinator Lynanne Lawhead said a few exhibitors will have items for sale, but the show will focus on demonstrations. Visitors can learn how to make several different types of old-fashioned crafts, Ms. Lawhead said.

A health fair Thursday from 1 to 6 p.m. Ms. Lawhead said 15 county agencies will give information on various health-related topics.

A teen dance Saturday night, sponsored by Q-105 radio station. The entry fee for anyone age 18 and younger is $1, with proceeds going to county high school Students Against Driving Drunk programs.

The Cumberland Valley Midway is open daily, with rides and games for all ages. Entertainment by Corky the Clown and the Prince of Magic show will be featured.

The fair ends Saturday.

Fair gates open at 1 p.m. daily and 10 a.m. Saturday. Admission is $2.50 for adults and $1.50 for students younger than 18. Preschool-age children can get in free. Wednesday is Youth Matinee Day, with free admission from 1 to 7 p.m. for anyone under 18.

Fair schedules and more information are available at county Chamber of Commerce offices or by calling the fair association at (904) 567-6678.