The classic earworm "The Fair, be there! It's all there! The Fair!" is back. It buzzes on the radio during your daily commute and seeps into your subconscious until you wake up Saturday morning with an urge to go to the Youth Fair. This year, the extravaganza organized by Miami-Dade County Fair & Exposition Inc. is celebrating its 65th anniversary. Ongoing till Sunday, April 10, the Fair sates Miamians' desire for guilty pleasures like carnival food, rides, amusements, and loads of entertainment.
The schedule has something for fairgoers of all ages, from concerts with headliners like Jesse James Decker and the Village People to circus performances, laser shows, and ice-skating spectacles.
Sure, county fairs have been around for ages, but Miamians can't help but make the Youth Fair their own. Though some elements of the Fair can be compared to that iconic final scene in the movie Grease, that’s just not how the Magic City operates. Here are the seven of the most "Miami" moments you can expect at the Youth Fair this year.
7. The Hispanic Elephant Ear
These sweet treats are a carnival staple that can’t be found anywhere outside Miami. The not-so-typical, big-enough-for-two (or five) elephant ear is covered in just the right amount of guava and cream cheese. Along with the red velvet version, this elephant ear is back for its second year, and we hope it becomes an annual tradition.
6. Celia Cruz-Inspired Concerts
The Fair is known for featuring some great headliners. In the '80s, it was Kool & the Gang, KC & the Sunshine Band, and Peaches & Herb. But as the culture has progressively Hispanicized, so has the music. Because the event delivers nothing short of top-ranked artists, you’ll see performances that will make you put down that elephant ear and dance. Don't miss the honorary concert for Celia Cruz Saturday, April 9. The tribute will feature musicians Willy Chirino, Aymee Nuviola, Jeimy Osorio, and the Celia Cruz All Stars.
5. The Coveted Café Bustelo Stand
Cafecito, anyone? When you see a Café Bustelo sign, you know you’re in Miami. The espresso brand has its own kiosk where fairgoers can choose their favorite Cuban coffees for a midday (or midnight) pick-me-up. It's located near the main concert stage, so grab some before you go watch Willy Chirino.
4. Ultra-Inspired Attractions
This one is for our EDM crew. It's appropriate because the Fair opened the same weekend as Ultra Music Festival. Event organizers stepped up their game and created Light Up the Night Robots to charm electronic-music lovers. Catch these interactive bots during the laser shows, which harmonize lights to the beats of electronic dance tunes.
3. Latin Food for the Soul
Others try to mimic Miami's Latin flavors, but there's nothing like the real thing. For the most savory eats on the fairgrounds, get to Sonia’s food stand. Sonia’s Latin Grill originated in Miami, and at the Fair, you can choose from some of your favorites, just like abuela would make. Order some arepas, pinchos, carne asada, empanadas, chicharrones, and other treats. You can also find some award-winning tacos at the Up N Smoke booth, because tacos.
2. This Beer Tap
Craft beer is hot in American culture. Miami has embraced the trend too, so naturally, the Fair features an 18-wheeler that's a traveling bar. Dubbed "Beer Haven," the contraption holds up to 60 beers on tap, most of which are from local breweries such as M.I.A. Beer Company. Just look at the above photo of M.I.A.'s Vice IPA tap — it screams Miami.
1. Typical Traffic Congestion
It wouldn't be Miami without traffic. And, yes, you’ll experience plenty of it heading into the fairgrounds. Depending upon the day and time, the congestion can get pretty ugly. To avoid it, go during the weekdays or early on the weekends, especially if you want to catch a show. Nonetheless, enduring the traffic is definitely worth it for the Youth Fair.
Miami-Dade County Fair & Exposition
Open through Sunday, April 10. General admission costs $14; ride tickets cost extra; visit thefair.me.