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Editorial | New focus for old favorite

By Staff | Feb 29, 2024

Those who look forward to rides, carnival games and, of course, the annual indulgence of fair fare, are not going to find the newly rebranded Southwest Florida Ag Expo lacking the things that made the old regional fair a staple for generations of Lee Countians.

The Ferris wheel and funnel cakes are back as is the live entertainment and all the daily admission specials that attracted crowds to the Lee Civic Center off Bayshore Road in North Fort Myers.

The rebranded name, though, is a definite throwback — and perhaps commitment — to the event’s rural roots and old Lee County, which is disappearing development by development.

After speaking with members of the community it was apparent that showcasing the youth and livestock portion while highlighting the agricultural community was the way to go, Lee County Parks & Recreation Operations Manager Lisa Weaver said in an interview with The Breeze.

Based on that input, the county decided to spotlight the youths who take part and upgraded much of the animal husbandry amenities on the former fairgrounds.

With the county continuing to look at options for the much-outdated complex it owns and again operates, the re-focus on the efforts of area youth and programs like 4-H is not a bad thing.

It may be a good thing, indeed.

It means, we hope, that the Lee County Commission is listening to public input received although the acreage on which the Civic Center sits is a prime location that at least one developer eyed for shopping and more a couple of years ago when officials began exploring the “what’s next” for the multi-use complex that once was a premier venue for concerts, events, and more.

The Southwest Florida Ag Expo opened Thursday and continues through March 10.

It looks to be not only a continuation, but another new beginning for an event that has evolved through time and place since 1924.

We thank the former Southwest Florida & Lee County Fair board for its efforts through the decades and we thank Lee County’s Parks & Recreation Department and all others involved for their efforts to make the transformation a seamless one this year.

Breeze editorial