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Fair gets permanent location

The Santa Rosa County Fair is making its mark on the county by taking up residence at a permanent site. The family-friendly event makes a point to have something for everyone, but the new permanent location on Bobby Brown Road means even more for the community.

“There’s just so much opportunity once you have this fixed property,” said Kim Cato-Chalmers, a volunteer with the Santa Rosa County Fair Association. “The fair has been a continuous, expanding project.”

The permanent fairgrounds mean fixtures can be put down—like in the kids’ activity area—and won’t have to be taken down year after year. For the 2014 fair, kids’ activities will include a petting zoo, putt-putt miniature golf, a calf scramble, camel rides, maze, dunking booth, a clown, and pig chases.

“Who doesn’t love a good pig chase?” said Cato-Chalmers. “The problem is some of these pigs are so tame they just stand there.”

Teens will enjoy Midnight Madness, where the fair offers admission and ride discounts, and stays open until midnight. Other teen-friendly events include laser tag, monster truck rides, and the GlowRage paint party (held Friday, April 11).

The freestyle motocross is another popular event, and don’t miss the livestock and professional rodeo showings.

Entertainers include Bo Bice and Chris Martin Band (Saturday, April 12), Dillon Carmichael, Dusty Sanderson Band and Chloe Channell (Saturday, April 5), and Hidden Skylight (Friday, April 4). Also look out for Bon Jovi and Journey tribute bands. Sundays will feature praise choirs and worship music.

“We’re trying to reach a broad spectrum of people,” Cato-Chalmers said. “It’s just fun, good entertainment for kids. It just seems to be getting bigger and better. I’m very pleased with the event lineup. The kiddie land is something that I think will just get better and better. It’s for the kids, let’s be honest. It’s all about the kids. And then with the Bon Jovi and Journey tribute bands, the parents are happy to go. We’re just trying to bring things for the kids and the teens, just something for everybody. It’s just a lot of fun.”

Looking for recognition, not entertainment? Enter your best work in the fair. The fair has competitions in categories like canned goods, youth fine arts, recycled art, handicrafts, photography, horticulture and community exhibits.

Fair organizers hope to add permanent structures to the site over the next two to five years. An exhibition hall, kids’ activities, even a gazebo are options, as funding, interest and timing allow. And permanent grounds mean the fair will benefit from a more flexible schedule.

“It’s a process that takes a couple years to develop,” Cato-Chalmers said. “A lot of fairgrounds around here attract events, and that’s very important to Santa Rosa County tourism. It’s not just about the fair, it’s about the fair grounds. Who knows? Maybe someone will want to use that gazebo for a wedding.”

Beyond the fair, the grounds could host flower or car shows, gun and coin shows, home and garden expos, even festivals. Bringing in events that will generate revenue for the community is the goal.

“What can we do to draw people to our area?” Cato-Chalmers said, “Because this place is just a hidden gem.”

The community, too, would benefit from having an exhibition hall as an option to hold large events, she said.

Getting the permanent fairgrounds has been 20 years in the making, said Don Salter, the vice president of the county commissioners. He said the permanent grounds will improve the sense of community in the county.

“I felt like they needed a permanent place,” he said. “I’m excited about it. I’m excited about their potential to grow, since they’re on a permanent site now, and have quality events.”

For more information on the fair and fairgrounds, including a complete schedule of events, go to 

This article originally appeared on Santa Rosa Press Gazette: Fair gets permanent location

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