Last week Palm Beach Post’s resident historian Eliot Kleinberg wrote an interesting piece that dove into the history of the South Florida Fair.
The “Palm Beach County Fair” started in March 1912. It was a four-day event under a single tent on the grounds of the old Palm Beach County Courthouse. The county, split from Dade only three years earlier, wanted a forum to show off its winter crops, livestock and booming real estate.
The county’s godfather, Henry Flagler, sweetened the pot by offering cash prizes for farmers and others who displayed their wares. The fair moved the following year to a site just to the north, near the railroad depot.
The article continues through the early years and explains that the name was changed to the South Florida Fair in 1980 when they moved to their permanent location at the South Florida Fairgrounds.
This year South Florida Fair is making history with its inclusion of the United States’ largest travelling Ferris Wheel, the “Midway Sky Eye”. It’s massive and impossible to miss, especially when the lights come on. If anyone shows you their pictures of the fair, I’d venture to say that it is the centerpiece of many, if not most, of the pictures taken.
The massive wheel reaches a peak height of 155 feet and is comprised of more than 500 pieces. It reaches so high that it requires FAA clearance, which has already been obtained. The Ferris wheel is equipped with more than 524,000 individual LED red, green, blue, yellow, orange and purple lights, making it the brightest spectacle at the fair, and requires more than six miles of electrical wiring. The 36 gondolas hold six riders each, who can see for miles from the top.
We went to the Fair this last Sunday and enjoyed the Ferris Wheel in the evening. While the view of the fair was stunning, at 155ft a day time trip around will give you a great view of miles of the surrounding Palm Beach County. Also pro-tip, wear a sweather / hat / scarf, because it is COLD on the top. A ride on the Midway Sky Eye is not covered by a ride wristband or tickets. The cost is $5/ride.
The Ferris Wheel isn’t the only thing going on. Like always, the event schedule is packed with fascinating events. Here are some other events we got to catch.
I enjoyed Lady Houdini’s show a lot. Come early for this one, because you’ll want to have a good seat and every show was packed.
Lady Houdini, the name given to Kristen Johnson by an Inside Edition producer at CBS Studios in New York has definitely stuck. Especially since she broke immortal Harry Houdini’s record for the most Water Torture Cell escapes ever performed, which historians and magic aficionados worldwide estimate to be just over one thousand. She broke Houdini’s record in 2012 as she successfully performed her 1,001st public escape during the Georgia State Fair at the Atlanta Speedway. She is currently at over 1,950 attempts and counting.
We missed Lady Houdini last year when she was booked to perform at the Fair but the day before she was going to open, she and her husband were involved in a terrible car accident & had to cancel their show. The accident was devastating to the team and involved multiple surgeries and months in the hospital and physical therapy. The driver that hit them was texting so a very clear message against distracted driving has been woven into the show.
You may have seen Kazual on America’s Got Talent or the Maury Show, but we saw this family group of 3 brothers and a cousin at the fair. They mix the sounds of R&B, Pop, Hip-Hop, some Country & pop together to create an experience they call “the Kazual experience”.
They perform at 12, 2 and 6pm at the Community Stage
The Ice Parades Skating Show
We always end our trip with the ice show. This year the theme was “parades around the world”, so each choreographed ice dance was themed to a different parade. From Carnival to OktoberFest, to the Day of the Dead (which featured “Thriller”) it was all there. Tons of energy and a great way to end the day at the fair.