County Fair Unites Manatee while the US Government Shuts Down

Manatee County Fair Pig Race
Fairgoers cheer the “Show Me Safari Pig Races” at the 2018 Manatee County Fair. (Photo: Alexander Michael Buono)

The Manatee County Fair wrapped up its final weekend of festivities at the county fairgrounds in Palmetto, hosted by the Manatee County River Association. The fair promised “Good Food, Good Rides, Good Times” one last weekend for fairgoers to usher in 2018, even as early Saturday morning marked the beginning of the federal government shutdown following the one year anniversary of Trump presidency on Friday, according to CBS News. Despite these recent national events, fair organizers were optimistic in how the fair unifies Manatee County in times of adversity.

“There’s folks from every corner of this county that are involved with the fair,” said fair manager Daniel West, 48. “That’s what makes the fair so special, it’s almost like a homecoming for Manatee County.”

According to Manatee County Supervisor of Elections, President Trump won 56 percent of the Manatee County vote in the 2016 general election. A recent Florida Atlantic University Poll reported in a November 2017 Palm Beach Post article placed the president’s approval ratings in the state of Florida at 41 percent, slightly higher than current national average of 39 percent according to Gallup Poll featured in a January 16 Associated Press article.

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Fairgoers were enjoying the warm weather after the bitter cold snap in early January. (Photo: Alexander Michael Buono)

“The government shut down nationally doesn’t affect me as much as the issues locally,” said Jason Drane, 39, a media professional and supporter of the president from Bradenton, who visited the fair along with his wife Gloria, 38, and two foster children.

“While we may not be shutting down the county government, we need to do some overhaul of some of the facilities are county does use, such as Centerstone, DCF and the various child welfare agencies,” Drane said.

“Otherwise these kids have no hope,” Gloria added.

The county fair has an enduring legacy when the nation has faced difficult times. In its 102 years of offering amusement for Manatee, the fair survived a loss of funding during the Great Depression and the brief discontinuation during the years of World War II according to the Manatee River Fair Association website.

“It means a lot to our county,” said West. “I think that we’re going to finish this weekend out with a bang and I think everybody is going to be real pleased with our turnout.”

For more information about the Manatee County Fair, click here.

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