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Lee County Fair draws huge early crowds

March 5, 2014
By CHUCK BALLARO ( ) , Pine Island Eagle

The weather may not have cooperated at first, but the Lee County Fair had a very good first weekend, with the best still yet to come.

The fair opened with a sneak peek on Thursday, with $12 admission and all the rides. Despite some rain, people stood in line to be among the first to get on the rides and dig their teeth into elephant ears.

The opening day weather didn't keep the Calderon family away. They ducked under a courtesy tent for a moment so their twin boys, Elijah and Dominic, 12, could rest and dry out.

Article Photos

James Hobbs with his son, Gavin, 7, and the prize he won on opening night at the Lee County Fair on Thursday.

Chuck Ballaro

Both had different reasons for wanting to come.

"I like the rides because they're so fast," Elijah said.

"The food, especially the funnel cakes and the corn dogs," Dominic said.

Thankfully, the weather improved and the crowds got much bigger for the weekend, which included an opening ceremony on Friday afternoon, free admission and rides for the first hour and the first Moonlight Madness, where people got $25 wristbands to go on all the rides they wanted from 9 p.m. to 2 a.m.

The weekend brought early start times and a multitude of things to do, from seeing the numerous acts strolling the grounds, to catching the livestock shows at the Tinsley Pavilion to going inside the civic center to watch local acts perform in groups or in the talent competitions.

The fair has also featured special promotions during the week, with Harry Chapin Food Bank Night on Monday, where three cans of food got you free admission, and $12 Tuesday for ride wristbands.

Today promises to be a special day as the fair introduces Senior Day on Wednesday, with an early start time of 2 p.m., $5 admission and $2 off that with a coupon for admission and rides.

There will be health screenings and other senior related activities for everyone to take part in.

The rest of the week will feature more talent shows and local country acts Michael King and Brooke Huffmaster to the main stage on the final weekend.

You can also get autographs and photos with Jimmy Riffle of the Gator Boys.

Strolling acts throughout the week include One Man Band, Funny Little People, Scott's Magic Show, Rock-It the Robot and Dinosaur Walk. Regular acts include the Grizzly Experience and the Alligator Show.

Fair organizer Fran Crone said she expects crowds to be at or near record levels for the 90th edition of the fair.

"We're expecting a good crowd. We've done a lot of advertising," Crone said. "It's been crazy, but it also been exciting watching everything come together and build up like a small town."

As for the weather, it is expected to be partly cloudy and mild through the week with the exception of Thursday, when there is a chance of thunderstorms.

The fair, which continues at the Lee Civic Center in North Fort Myers through March 9, will open at noon on weekends, and at 5 p.m. during the week, with the exception of Wednesday, which will be at 2 p.m. for Senior Day, with reduced admission for seniors and vets.

A remaining Moonlight Madness will be offered March 7 from 9 p.m. to 2 a.m. Regular admission until 9 p.m.; $25 ride wristbands beginning at 9 p.m.

The Lee Civic Center is at 11831 Bayshore Road.



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