Florida State Fair a family tradition for founders

- The Florida State Fair opens Thursday and for Doyle Carlton III, the chairman of the fair board, it's a labor of love and a family tradition.

"I'm the third generation to serve on the board," says Carlton, a rancher from Wauchula.

He says when he's at the fairgrounds it feels like home.

"Especially Cracker Country," he smiles.

Cracker Country is the part of the state fair designed to educate visitors about how Florida pioneers lived. It's filled with historic buildings like the Carlton family home which was built in the 1880s and moved from Wauchula. 

Carlton says the Florida State Fair began in 1904 at Henry B. Plant's Tampa Bay Hotel, now the University of Tampa.

"The intent and purpose was to bring more people into the Tampa area and to support Mr. Plant's hotel," says Carlton.

The event went on for decades at Plant Park and was closely tied to Gasparilla. After the invasion,  pirates and other residents went to the fair. 

The fair moved to its present location in the 1970s. 

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