The 93rd Southwest Florida Lee County Fair stepped off with a "sneak peek" last Thursday, kicked things up a notch Friday with "Moonlight Madness" and then enjoyed strong attendance all weekend as sunny, warm weather kept things humming at the Lee Civic Center.
With forecasts predicting sunny and warm weather throughout the first week of the fair, organizers are hoping to break last year's record attendance of 109,000 through the 11-day run.
Among the many attending the fair's first weekend was Jeremy York and his niece Adelyne, 4.
Harmony Cruz and her rabbit, Tigger, get ready to be shown at the Southwest Florida Fair at the Lee Civic Center on Saturday.
York played one of the numerous carnival games and won a stuffed animal that was almost bigger than he is.
"I knocked three things over and won the biggest green monkey they had for my niece. She just turned 4 the other day," York said. "The fair is great. I've been here a few times and it's a great time."
Among the new additions this year are an entertainment area featuring new attractions such as the Timberworks Lumberjack Show, a firefighter training show, the Dennis Lee Show, Ron Diamond, a hypnotist and magician, The Rogue Brothers and Elvis, featuring renowned impersonator Billy Lindsey.
Dennis Lee, who came all the way from Memphis, provided a great mix of country, rock 'n' roll and even some gospel on Sunday.
"I was performing in Las Vegas, and Fran Krone saw us do our show and told us that she wanted us to perform at the fair," a very animated Lee said. "We told her we were going to party and throw down. She said she didn't want us to do that. But we're having a blast."
For those who enjoy "street eats," there were numerous choices - elephant ears, various fried delicacies including candy bars, sacks of rainbow-colored cotton candy and huge turkey legs.
For those who enjoy the traditional, Saturday was the start of the 4-H shows for every farm animal under the sun. Many of the livestock shows were at the Tinsley Pavilion and the livestock show ring.
On Saturday, it was the rabbits' turn to shine, and they were judged by species in much the same way as dogs are at the Westminster Dog Show, with the best species and best in show crowned.
Emily Murphy, a 4-H member who is also the fair's queen, had a rabbit in the competition. She serves as the ambassador of the fair, especially the 4-H segment and hands out the ribbons.
"Rabbits are breed specific, so they teach us to breed to the standards of that breed. They look for certain traits and the one that most conforms to the specifications wins," Murphy said.
The fair continues through Sunday with lots of specials to come.
Today is Senior and Military Day, with $5 admission from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. and $20 all-day ride wristbands (kiddie rides open at 11 a.m.; midway rides at 4 p.m.).
Thursday is Old Fashion Dollar Day, with rides costing a dollar with a minimum $10 ride credit and admission.
Moonlight Madness will happen again on Friday, March 3, with $25 Madness wristbands after 8 p.m.
The fair will wrap up with a Last Blast Special on Sunday, March 5.
General adult admission to the fair is $10 and $5 for children under 12.
Gates open at 4 p.m. weekdays except for today, when it opens at 11 a.m, the same time as weekends.
For more information, visit swflcfair.com.