By Marguerite Gil
Now in its fifty-seventh year, The Fair has morphed into a multi-adventure, interactive spectacle for the curious, the fearless and the romantics.
Start your date by catching the Mardi Gras parade (6:30 p.m. every evening), complete with strolling entertainment, samba dancing and drums. The floats come to us straight from New Orleans, and there’s a different "celebrity" Grand Marshall each night.
No need to blow your paycheck on opera tix, take your low-maintenance gal to one of the Fair’s many shows, free with the price of admission: choose from acrobats, live music, ice skating and animals, including sharks. Or, unleash your inner WT and take in the pig races.
Be sure to invest in a pass ($20) that lets you ride all night (that’s what she said), as this is the last year fairgoers will be able to ride the Doppel Loop rollercoaster. Gentlemen, if you really want to impress your main squeeze, hop on the giant Ferris wheel. It’s the perfect place to cuddle, take in the fantastic view below and sneak in a kiss. Get the rides in before you stuff your faces – hurling is so not a turn on.
Once you’ve wandered around, caught some shows and worked up an appetite, nearly 200 food vendors will try to entice you into tasting their hi-caloric goodies, including pizza, calzones, elephant ears, steak sandwiches, fried chicken and buttery roasted corn. Interesting note: starting this year all foods will be cooked with zero trans-fat cooking oil.
A date wouldn’t be complete (at least according to the ladies) without some window shopping. The grand hall is filled with booths, which offer everything from handmade jewelry to Japanese fighting fish. Also, nothing says love like a personalized mirrored vanity plate.
Finally, head to a bench, cotton candy in tow, and take in some great people watching. It really is all there at the Fair. (Except, unfortunately, the booze).
The Fair is located at Coral Way (SW 24th St.) and 112th Ave; 305-223-7060; www.fairexpo.com; admission $9 (kids under 5 are free); hours: Mon.-Fri. 3-10 p.m.; Sat.-Sun. noon-10 p.m. (and Fri., March 28 & Fri., April 4); gates close at 10 p.m. but fair stays open til midnight; free parking