Soon after, the event became known as the Florida State Mid-Winter Festival and was the place to be! Families from near and far would come to the festival. Children would play games, eat popcorn and Fairy Floss while their parents won bragging rights for their prized Bull, the best pie, or the most beautiful quilt. In 1915 when Articles of Incorporation for the South Florida Fair and Gasparilla Carnival were filed with the Secretary of State office in Tallahassee, the Fair became known as the Florida State Fair.
In 1975, Florida State Legislature created the Florida State Fair Authority and designated that the Tampa event was the official Florida State Fair. In 1976, the headlines read “A Stadium full of State Fair starts Thursday” as the Florida State Fair moved into the Tampa Stadium aka “The Big Sombrero” and home of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers while its final location was being created.
In February of 1977 the first Fair was held at its current location near Interstate 4 and U.S Highway 301 in eastern Hillsborough County, a 330-acre site, just seven miles from its original downtown Tampa location. Once moving to the East Tampa location, new buildings and barns were erected. A five-acre parcel of land on the new fairgrounds was developed into the Mildred W. and Doyle E. Carlton, Jr Cracker Country living history museum. Here, original structures including homes, a general store, railroad depot, print shop and more offer guests a representation of home life, commerce and transportation as it was in many rural Florida communities just before the turn of the 20th century. The museum is open to all during the annual Florida State Fair and during the rest of the year welcomes over 25,000 Tampa Bay area school students.