Agriculture and education build life skills and community

The Southwest Florida and Lee County Fair opens on Thursday, Feb. 26, and more than 300 livestock exhibitors have registered, with animals ranging from steer and swine to chicken and rabbits. Just as many entries have already been received for the Creative Living Department, demonstrating our neighbors’ many interesting talents in areas including crafts, canned foods, art, photography and horticulture.

Now in its 91st year, the fair runs through March 8, and is always an opportunity to experience thrilling rides, enjoy great food and be entertained by all kinds of performing acts. It also serves to highlight the importance of agriculture, fosters life skills and pride of achievement in young people, provides educational opportunities to the public and builds a sense of community in our fast-paced modern world.

Having registered their animals in the fall, the young 4-H and FFA exhibitors have been busy taking care of their animals and getting them ready to show. In addition, they must maintain a record book to log details of their animal and its care, including expenses, health records and amount and type of feed that has been used. These record books are submitted to the fair at the time the exhibitor arrives with his or her animal. The exhibitors also learn to contact prospective buyers by writing letters and calling on them in person. These projects require dedication and many hours of work and teach valuable life skills.

Fair Manager Fran Crone said, “The time and efforts given by the volunteer 4-H leaders, the FFA advisors, the families, teachers and club leaders will come back to us on an even greater level. The youth of today continue to be faced with challenges. The life skills they learn today prepare them for their roles in the future.”

Lots of great exhibits await in the Creative Living Department, including quilt exhibits, Master Gardeners’ demonstrations, a butterfly demonstration and exhibit by international expert Nick Boden and much more! There’s still time to register to show off your own creative talent or homesteading skill. Beat the crowds by pre-registering online by Feb. 19 at www.swflcfair.com. If not registering online, you can register when dropping off your entries. All entries for the Creative Living Department will be accepted 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Feb. 21 and 22 at the Lee County Civic Center. Horticulture entries will be accepted Wednesday, February 25 from 3 to 7 p.m.

Guests will be able to make crafts free of charge at the “Make & Take Tables” and bring them home. Check out the new “Glue a Shoe” contest on line and be sure to enter your own creation.

Crone said, “As you stroll around the fairgrounds, you will see the pride the exhibitors have in their projects, hear the fun and laughter of the guests, and smell the mouthwatering fair foods along the midway.”

As a District Fair, the Southwest Florida and Lee County Fair represents Charlotte, Collier, DeSoto, Glades, Hendry and Lee counties. In 2014 the Southwest Florida and Lee County Fair had 525 exhibitors showing in various categories. As a result of the various competitions $39,375.27 was awarded in the forms of premiums, awards and scholarships.

Visit www.swflcfair.com for tickets and mega passes, schedules and registration information and be sure to take part in this exciting legendary Fair.

About the Southwest Florida and Lee County Fair

Held on the grounds of the Lee County Civic Center, located at 11831 Bayshore Road in North Fort Myers, the Fair is dedicated to promoting agricultural, horticultural, creative arts, and educational opportunities while providing quality entertainment for the citizens of the area. The Fair is recognized as a 501(C)3 non-profit educational organization by the federal government and the State of Florida. The Southwest Florida and Lee County Fair Association is chartered under Florida State Statues Chapter 616 as a District Fair serving Charlotte, Collier, DeSoto, Glades, Hendry and Lee Counties. For more information visit www.swflcfair.com