The Florida State Fair returns to Tampa Feb. 9-20, and it comes with a new admission policy for minors. After 6 p.m. each day, kids ages 17 and younger must be accompanied by an admission-paying parent or guardian aged 21 and older with a valid ID. The adult can supervise up to four people.
As another safety measure, all admission gates will close promptly at 9 p.m. The fair opens each day at 11 a.m.
“The Florida State Fair is intended to be a family-friendly environment for visitors of all ages, and this policy will assist us in ensuring all guests enjoy their experience while visiting the State Fair,” said Cheryl Flood, the State Fair’s executive director, in a news release. “Events are enforcing a similar measure around the country and in order for us to keep safety as a top priority, we feel this is the next step to implement at the Florida State Fair.”
In 2014, 14-year-old Andrew Joseph III was ejected from the Florida State Fair on Student Day and died trying to cross I-4. He’d been among 99 others ejected by deputies after violence erupted. Joseph’s parents, Deanna and Andrew Jr., have been on a mission to improve the safety of children at the fair.
Last year, they won a wrongful death lawsuit against Hillsborough County sheriff’s officials and were awarded damages totaling $15 million.
In 2015, the Student Day rules were changed to require deputies to contact the parents or guardians of any juveniles who get kicked out, and students had to be accompanied by an adult after 6 p.m. that day.
There is no information about Student Day this year on the fair’s website, but there is a Family Day on Feb. 17 and a Kid’s Day on Feb. 20. On both days, guests younger than 18 get free admission with a paid adult admission before 6 p.m.
For more information visit floridastatefair.com.