They’d been trying all week to get to the Charlotte County Fair.
Bailey Stonais of Port Charlotte wanted to come with her family when the fair opened its 10-day run Feb. 1, “but we were just busy.”
She said her primary motivation for attending the fair is “funnel cake.”
She did not allow the opportunity to slip away in 2019. Bailey hit the midway with her husband, Derek, and two children, Ava, 6, and Cooper, 4, on Sunday, the fair’s final day.
“We come every year,” Bailey said. “We love it.”
The Port Charlotte family was not alone. More than 30 minutes before the fair opened its gates at noon, people were waiting for the chance to taste the food, ride the rides and see the shows.
The fair, celebrating its 30th anniversary, ran from Feb. 1 to Sunday at the Charlotte County Fairgrounds in Port Charlotte.
Sunday turned out to be the finale of a fine run. Last year, weather was a factor. After a terrific first Saturday on Jan. 27, rain came on Sunday evening and hit some vendors hard. A jewelry vendor’s tents collapsed, and the vendor had to pack up and leave. A longtime vendor of T-shirts and bric-a-brac grew impatient and fled.
Not so this year. The weather was spectacular. The crowds — especially on the weekends — were heavy, hungry and ready to ride. This year, the fair celebrated its 30th anniversary in style.
“It was beautiful weather,” said Debbie Obarka, who brought her bird show, “Squawk,” to the fair from Kissimmee. “We had great crowds.”
Squawk was one of three shows offered at the fair, joining acrobatic aquatic and magic acts. Obarka and her husband, Mark, have eight trained birds that Obarka treats like her children.
As a rule, they don’t play fairs, she said. It’s just too hard transporting and “living with eight parrots in an RV on the road,” Obarka laughed. “It’s easier to be in one spot for a long time.”
They usually stick to corporate work and amusement parks. But they brought their show to Charlotte two years ago and returned for the 30th anniversary. After the fair ended Sunday, they were headed back to Kissimmee.
Obarka was struck by the friendliness of Charlotte County folks.
“The people were super nice,” she said. “I would definitely come back. I loved it.”
John Mahshie, the Charlotte County Fair Association treasurer, also loved it.
“The week was good,” he said before ducking into a trailer that serves as headquarters for the organizers. “We had perfect weather. We had great Midnight Magic. Everything was up, so we’re very happy.
“It was as smooth as could be.”