You know about the gravity-defying rides, the buttery elephant ears and the groups of loud teenagers, but what else does the Miami-Dade County Youth Fair and Exposition have in store this year? We have some highlights.
1. Ice cream you'll scream about
County fairs are infamous for finding newer and better things to deep fry, but our Fair takes things to another level. Get your salty/sweet fix at Polar Bear Ice Cream, owned by FIU alum Griff Gillette who knows no fear when it comes to adventurous dessert confections. On the menu are favorites like A Pig in Mud, chocolate fudge ice cream with real hickory smoked bacon, salted caramel and sea salt. Also try the Hog on a Log, a frozen banana dipped in chocolate and rolled in hickory-smoked bacon. This year he has a new insane concoction: the Buffalo Chicken Wing, ice cream made of boneless chicken smothered in a buttered red-hot sauce with veins of ranch dressing and celery seed. Yes, ice cream made of chicken. It sounds gross and good at the same time.
2. Teeny boppers
Tweens will be in heaven with the musical line up. Colombian pop star Matt Hunter will appease his fangirls (aka the "Hunters") this Friday with a show on the Main Street Stage at 8 p.m. Get a dose of reggaeton with Puerto Rico's Gocho performing on Saturday at 8 p.m. Christian rockers The Newsboys take the stage on Friday, March 22 at 7 p.m. along with special guests Building 429 and All Things New. Pop/punk band We Are The In Crowd headlines on Friday, March 29 at 8 p.m., performing hits like "Kiss Me Again" and "Best Intentions." Finally, Kidz Bop takes over the stage on March 31 at 4 p.m. to perform kid-friendly versions of your favorite Top 40 jams.
3. Animal Encounters
The Fair is to place to be for animal lovers; pony rides, pig races and petting zoo give you a chance to get up close and personal with some furry friends. Ron Magill of Zoo Miami will take the canoodling with animals up a notch on March 24 at 4 p.m. when he presents some of the Zoo Miami celebrities like Gigi the Giraffe, Kaz the Rhino and Pio the Red-Billed Oxpecker. Also, check out Jump! The Ultimate Dog Show, going on March 19-22 and 25-28, which features a cast of pet stars who were rescued from shelters across America who will amaze you with their uncanny abilities.
4. Meet & Greet
The rugrats will have a ball shaking hands with the characters from Nickelodeon's Yo Gabba Gabba! on Sunday, March 17 from 1-5 p.m. That same day the Unity Street Artists will be creating a work of art before your very eyes on the Main Stage so the kids can watch the creative process in action. Rub elbows with the official DJ of the Miami Heat, DJ Irie on March 23 at 7 p.m. or meet your favorite WWE wrestlers at the Xtreme Zone on March 30 at 8 p.m.
5. Global Cirque
Prepare to be astounded by acrobats, contortionists, aerialists and an incredible assortment of bizarre and death-defying talents from all parts of the globe at one of several cirque-style shows. The Zuzu African Acrobat Show tumbles onto the Main Stage daily with pyramids, limbo, bottle balancing and other incredible feats. The Shangri-La Chinese Acrobats entertain daily with their formidable mix of acrobatics, explosive Kung Fu, brilliant costumes and a touch of humor at the E. Darwin Fuchs Pavilion. The Royal Hanneford Circus sets up shop at the The Fair as well with an all new presentation featuring hire wire daredevils, aerialists and talented canines.
6. Riding high
Every year The Fair adds a few new rides to keep the thrill seekers' attention. This year is no exception with the addition of Speed, Air Raid and Vortex, each with its own unique method of confusing your vestibular system to make you feel like you are going to upchuck your Hog on a Log. For those with weaker bellies, maybe stick to the new Kiddie Land Train.
Riders scream as they come aropund the corner on the Doppel Looping on Firday afternoon. Photo By Emily Michot.