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Music to our elephant ears: South Florida Fair 2021 is back with pig races, Ferris wheels and turkey legs

Pre-pandemic photo. The two-week carnival bonanza known as South Florida Fair 2021 will return Jan. 15-31, 2021 with COVID-19 safety upgrades and fewer activities that promote heavy foot traffic.
Pre-pandemic photo. The two-week carnival bonanza known as South Florida Fair 2021 will return Jan. 15-31, 2021 with COVID-19 safety upgrades and fewer activities that promote heavy foot traffic. (Carline Jean / South Florida Sun Sentinel)

After climbing off the rollercoaster that was 2020, the South Florida Fair wants you climbing back into Ferris wheels and chair lifts in 2021.

The two-week carnival of spinning rides, buckets of French fries and midway fun will return Jan. 15-31 to the South Florida Fairgrounds in West Palm Beach in a scaled-back format, organizers announced this week.

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“Just as Disney, art events, boat shows and other entertainment venues have reopened, we also are moving forward with our guests’ safety as our No. 1 priority,” says Vicki Chouris, South Florida Fairgrounds’ president and CEO.

That may sound like music to your elephant ears, but know that COVID-19 protocols – no surprise – will be baked into the fair’s 2021 programming. Big changes will include shorter, more frequent entertainment shows; more outdoor strolling acts and fewer indoor stage acts; and a new air-conditioning filtration system inside the Expo Center. There also will be mandatory masks, hand washing, sanitizer stations, touchless doors and Plexiglas dividers.

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Pre-pandemic photo of the South Florida Fair 2020. The two-week carnival bonanza will return Jan. 15-31, 2021 with COVID-19 safety upgrades and fewer activities that promote heavy foot traffic.
Pre-pandemic photo of the South Florida Fair 2020. The two-week carnival bonanza will return Jan. 15-31, 2021 with COVID-19 safety upgrades and fewer activities that promote heavy foot traffic. (Sun Sentinel File Photo)

The carnival typically draws tens of thousands of fairgoers, making six-foot social distancing especially tricky, Chouris says. Which is why the fair is nixing activities with heavy foot traffic, such as the fair’s daily parades. Its “$2 Tuesdays” promotion – always a big crowd driver – has been postponed until 2022. The fair’s entertainment tent has also been converted into a shaded outdoor venue, she says.

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  • SouthFloridaFair.com between Dec. 4 and Jan. 14, 2021, and cost $10 for ages 11 and older. Tickets at the gate will be $10 Monday-Friday and $15 Saturday-Sunday – about $5 cheaper than last year. Powerpass, which includes admission and unlimited rides on weekdays, costs $25.

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