North Florida Fair returns with scant regard for COVID

The annual North Florida Fair is back. Photo by Kayla McKinney

The bright lights illuminating the intersection of South Monroe Street and Paul Russell Road signal to all that the North Florida Fair has returned in-person, after the event was modified last fall due to COVID.

Though the temperatures are dropping, the fair is still attracting large crowds, especially during the cool evening hours of the day.

There are plenty of reasons students, families and friends flock to the North Florida Fair every year: the delicious food, exhilarating rides, thrilling games and live shows and attractions.

“I love the fair, but I really went just to get an elephant’s ear,” said Nyja Franklin, a college student in Tallahassee.

Terrell Dunham, a Tallahassee resident, said he was attracted to the fair for another reason.

“I thought it would be a nice way to spend our date night. I didn’t expect it to be this cold, but it’s still a nice vibe for the night,” Dunham said.

Of course, the fair has made a few changes this year, including  serving alcoholic beverages.

Outside of the usual attractions, the fair also offers a free circus with varying hours each day and a smaller “cowboy circus” show.

There are also interactive activities for people of all ages, including a petting zoo and two exhibitions for guests to walk through.

Something some residents noticed amid the fair’s lively events was the lack of social distancing.

One parent, Hannah Beasley, wished fair organizers were more cognizant of COVID.

“I thought since I was just with my son that they would let us on our own ferris wheel car, but they added two more people — strangers,” Beasley said.

While walking around the event, only a small number of people were wearing facial coverings. Most lines also lacked social distancing measures.

Though it may be a sign that Tallahassee is returning to normalcy, many residents feared what this may mean for the future health of North Floridians heading into flu season.

Florida A&M University student Demiya Davis had  concerns.

“I heard there was a flu outbreak on campus and a lot of people are still getting COVID, so I was surprised this was such a big public event and no masks were required,” Davis said.

To safeguard the health of those with weakened immune systems or pre-existing conditions, masks are recommended during large gatherings.

The North Florida Fair will continue through Sunday. Each day, there are different deals on tickets and entry fees. Parking is free.

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