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Pensacola Interstate Fair

Fair Still Tops In Entertainment, Tradition
By Sean Boone

The roar of The Zipper, the smell of the funnel cakes, the lights that illuminate a three-mile radius. Ah yes, it’s that time again.

While Deluna Fest has gained much of the entertainment focus for this month, there’s still another big attraction that has been a part of Pensacola’s fall for generations.

With more than 62 rides, attractions and exhibits, there is a little something for everyone in the family at the 76th annual Pensacola Interstate Fair.

“It’s just something that is so family oriented,” says Don E. Frenkel, fair general manager. “We love it. We appreciate it. We appreciate putting on a family show.”

The fair kicks off Thursday, Oct. 21 and ends on Halloween night.

Frenkel says this year kids will be able to take part in a family friendly “Trick or Treat” event and receive a special candy bag as well as meet Nickelodeon’s Dora The Explorer.

Adults Entertainment notables performing throughout the 11 days include Marcy Playground, Seven Mary Three and The Charlie Daniels Band.

And don’t forget about the art and livestock exhibits.

A petting zoo, Great American Frontier Show, Livestock Auction and “Ag-tivity” Center round out a diverse list of activities and entertainment that you don’t necessarily have to ride or pay admission.

“The fair is more than a carnival…everybody thinks of it as a carnival but fairs are the exhibits,” says Frenkel. “It all goes together to make a great entertainment venue.”
AN AREA TRADITION

Since 1935, the modern fair has been a part of Pensacola’s economy. Opening as a small carnival on the corner of Pace Boulevard, it later moved to Pace and Garden Streets in the 1940s before closing for several years due to World War II.

It then moved to Fairfield Drive (hence the name) before it moved to its current 136-acre location on Mobile Highway in 1969.

Frenkel has been a part of fair operations since 1981, when his brother was still general manager. He says the one thing most people don’t realize is the business is local and operates in Pensacola all year.

“The Pensacola Interstate Fair is a legitimate business that is here 365 days a year,” he says. “We are a regular business like any other business in town. We have eight regular employees and have something going on (gun shows, jewelry trades etc.) almost every weekend of the year.”

In October, the Interstate Fair hires roughly 300 employees who run 110 independent midway vendors—adding to the nearly 2,000 volunteers who present exhibits and offer seminars and demonstrations.

The Reithoffer Shows Company brings in more than 500 employees to operate and assemble its rides, helping boost the local economy.

“(The fair) is a tremendous local impact on the city,” says Frenkel. “We try our best to fight the argument that the fair takes all the money out of town. “We took a survey back in the early 80s and that particular time it showed an $8 million impact.”

Last year the fair cost more than $2,231,000 to put on. Frenkel says more than 80 percent of that money went into the local economy.

The Interstate Fair group has also donated more than $800,000 to local education over the past 20 years and has set up a yearly $1,000 grant scholarship awarded to an area student.
sean@inweekly.net

PENSACOLA INTERSTATE FAIR
COST: General admission is $10 for adults, $5 for children ages four to 11, and free for children three and under.
Bronze Pack–$54 ($11 savings) –2 Admission Tickets, 2 Handstamp Tickets, 1 Parking Ticket
Silver Pack–$87 ($18 savings)–4 Admission Tickets, 3 Handstamp Tickets, 1 Parking Ticket
Gold Pack–$141 ($29 savings)–6 Admission Tickets, 5 Handstamp Tickets, 2 Parking Tickets

PENSACOLA INTERSTATE FAIR SCHEDULE:

▶Thursday, Oct. 21
Grand Opening–$2 Admission Day! Everyone will be admitted for $2 into the Fair all day long. Fair closes at 11 p.m.
Handstamp Day–Purchase ride handstamp for $20. Handstamps are good on all Reithoffer Midway Rides until closing, except special attractions. Individual ride tickets are also available all day.
Entertainment–Cat Country 98.7 “Catty-oke” Finals, 7 p.m. on the Pepsi Open Air Stage.

▶Friday, Oct. 22
Midnight Madness–Starting at 8 p.m., buy one $20 ticket good for admission and unlimited rides on the Reithoffer Midway until closing. Fair closes at 2 a.m.
Handstamp Day–General Admission rates apply until 8 p.m. Ride handstamps will be not be available from 4–8p.m, only for Midnight Madness. Individual ride tickets will be available all day.
Entertainment–38 Special, 9 p.m. on the Pepsi Open Air Stage.

▶Saturday, Oct. 23
Kids’ Day–All kids 11 years and under will be admitted FREE into the Fair from 10 a.m.–2 p.m. General admission prices apply from 2 p.m.–close.  Fair closes at midnight.
Handstamp Day–Purchase a $20 handstamp good on all Reithoffer Midway Rides until closing, except special attractions. Individual ride tickets are also available all day.
Entertainment–Steel Magnolia, 8 p.m. on the Pepsi Open Air Stage.

▶Sunday, Oct. 24
Senior Citizens’ Day–Persons 55 years of age and older will be admitted for $5 into the Fair all day long. Fair closes at 11 p.m.
Handstamp Day–Purchase a $20 handstamp good on all Reithoffer Midway Rides until closing, except special attractions. Individual ride tickets are also available all day.
Entertainment–Local Entertainment Featuring Chloe Channel and Brooke Woods Smith, beginning at 2 p.m. on the Pepsi Open Air Stage.
▶Monday, Oct. 25
School Day–Everyone will be admitted for $5 into the Fair from 2-5 p.m. General admission prices apply from 5 p.m.-close. Fair closes at 11 p.m.
Cox Day–Check your September and October Cox bill for a FREE admission coupon.
Military Appreciation Day–All active and retired military personnel and spouses with proper identification will be admitted for $5 into the Fair all day (does not include dependents). Fair closes at 11 p.m.
Handstamp Day–Purchase a $20 handstamp good on all Reithoffer Midway Rides until closing, except special attractions. Individual ride tickets are also available all day.
Special Guests–Nickelodeon’s Dora the Explorer and Diego – Presented by Cox, 2:30-4:30 p.m. & 6-8 p.m. on the Pepsi Open Air Stage.

▶Tuesday, Oct. 26
Ladies’ Day–Ladies of all ages will be admitted FREE into the Fair from 4–6 p.m. General admission prices apply from 6 p.m.–close. Fair closes at 11 p.m.
Handstamp Day–Purchase a $20 handstamp good on all Reithoffer Midway Rides until closing, except special attractions. Individual ride tickets are also available all day.
Entertainment–Straight from Las Vegas, Jay White – Tribute to Neil Diamond, 7 p.m. on the Pepsi Open Air Stage.

▶Wednesday, Oct. 27
Cox Special Ride Day–Check your September and October Cox bill for a $5 off  ride handstamp insert to be redeemed at the Fair.
Senior Citizen’s Day–Persons 55 years of age and older will be admitted for $5 into the Fair until closing. Fair closes at 11 p.m.
Handstamp Day–Purchase a $20 handstamp good on all Reithoffer Midway Rides until closing, except special attractions. Individual ride tickets are also available all day.
Entertainment–Straight from Las Vegas, Jay White – Tribute to Neil Diamond, 7 p.m. on the Pepsi Open Air Stage.

▶Thursday, Oct. 28
Men’s Day–Men of all ages will be admitted FREE into the Fair from 4–6 p.m. General admission prices apply from 6 p.m.–close. Fair closes at 11 p.m.
Handstamp Day–Purchase a $10 handstamp good on all Reithoffer Midway Rides until closing, except special attractions. Individual ride tickets are also available all day.
Entertainment–TK101 and Hooters Wing Eating Contest, 7 p.m. on the Pepsi Open Air Stage.

▶Friday, Oct. 29
Midnight Madness–Starting at 8 p.m., buy one $20 ticket good for admission and unlimited rides on the Reithoffer Midway until closing. Fair closes at 2 a.m.
Handstamp Day–General Admission rates apply until 8 p.m. Ride handstamps will be not be available from 4–8p.m, only for Midnight Madness. Individual ride tickets will be available all day.
Entertainment–Sponge, Marcy Playground and Seven Mary Three, starting at 8 p.m. on the Pepsi Open Air Stage.

▶Saturday, Oct. 30
Kids’ Day–All kids 11 years and under will be admitted FREE into the Fair from 10 a.m.–2 p.m. General admission prices apply from 2 p.m.–close. Fair closes at midnight.
Handstamp Day–Purchase a $20 handstamp good on all Reithoffer Midway Rides until closing, except special attractions. Individual ride tickets are also available all day.
Family Friendly “Trick or Treat” at the Fair!–Beginning at 4 p.m., all patrons who have purchased a child’s admission ticket can visit the WXBM 10 Point Truck at the main entrance and receive a special “Fair Trick or Treat” bag. From 4-7 p.m., the concessionaires will be open for trick or treating and will be distributing candy to only those children with a special “Fair Trick or Treat” bag.
Entertainment–Charlie Daniels Band, 8 p.m. on the Pepsi Open Air Stage.

▶Sunday, Oct. 31
Special Family Admission Day–General admission is $5 for adults, $3 for ages four to 11, and FREE for children three and under.  Children under the age of 11will be admitted free after 5 p.m. Fair closes at 10 p.m.
Special Handstamp Day–Purchase a discounted $15 handstamp good on all Reithoffer Midway Rides until closing, except special attractions. Individual ride tickets are also available all day.