TAMPA, Fla. (FOX 13) - There are certain things you expect at the Florida State Fair, like rides on the midway, livestock in the barns, and funnel cakes frying on the griddle. Add Dennis Lee to that list of traditions. This year is his 39th straight entertaining at the fair.
His show is a combination of music and homespun comedy, but his beginnings at the fair are far from today's fantastic show.
"My grandmother used to say, 'Dennis, you're getting paid for what I used to spank you for,'" Lee remembered after performing one of his three shows on Monday.
Lee was raised in foster homes. He arrived at the Florida State Fair nearly 40 years ago with a much different job.
"Every time I do a show, I look out there and see that 50-gallon trash barrel. My job was to empty those during the fair," he said.
His break came when someone introduced him to clown make-up. He put it on and began roaming the fair joking with people.
"I started as a street performer right here at this fair," said Lee.
Now, his show is filled with audience interaction. He sings and cracks jokes and performs physical comedy; think Elvis meets Red Skelton.
"It's mom and pop, God and country, and everything good about it. We travel from coast to coast," Lee continued.
His gig at the Florida State Fair turned into bookings across North America. But he's always happy to come back to the place it all started.
"Hopefully the good Lord will give me opportunities to continue doing what I do," he added. "I love it."