Broward County Fair could be canceled for second year

No room for the Broward County Fair? Plans to run event next to Swap Shop questioned by Lauderhill officials.

There's no place like home, but the Broward County Fair doesn't have one.

And that could kill the event for the second year in a row.

The vagabond operation of livestock, funnel cakes and carnival rides, which has set up its tents at a half-dozen locations over the past 38 years, was canceled last year because the Pembroke Pines site it had used for three years was no longer available.

Organizers plan to run this year's edition Nov. 21-30 in a Swap Shop overflow parking lot on the south side of Sunrise Boulevard, but that came as news this week to Lauderhill commissioners who will have to give the final approval for the fair to move forward.

Nearby neighbors let commissioners know they are concerned about the potential noise, traffic and crowds, while city officials say the 10-day event could overwhelm city services.

"I was not aware there was an application in the works," Commissioner Hayward Benson said. "I don't think it has a good chance of being approved, based on what I heard from the community [on Monday night]."

The city has asked fair organizers to remove the reference to the Swap Shop site from their website and any publicity, City Manager Chuck Faranda said, because it's misleading when the city hasn't made a decision. He said the fair's permit application isn't even halfway completed.

"We try to be fair and we try to be blunt," Faranda said. "If it's a nuisance to the community, we take that into consideration in our recommendation to the commission."

Hubert Bullard, the fair's new manager from South Carolina, said there would be no fair this year if the Swap Shop site isn't approved, because it's not easy finding open locations for such a large event.

"We thought it would be a good fit for the fair to be near the Swap Shop where there's plenty of space and ample parking," Bullard said when contacted Tuesday. "In South Florida, there's not many areas of undeveloped land [for a fair to use]."

He said the fair had provided the city all the requested documents. He hopes to get a decision at the commission's Oct. 27 meeting.

The fair has always been a stepchild to the annual South Florida Fair in Palm Beach County and the Miami-Dade County Fair & Expo, which have their own grounds.

The low point before last year's cancellation was in 2009, when the fair was held in a Pompano Beach parking lot with no carnival rides, no food and no games, just animals.

The fair most recently had been held at City Center in Pembroke Pines and before that at the Fort Lauderdale Stadium grounds.

"We're set to go. All the plans are in place for the fair to happen," Bullard said. "All we need is the permit."

lbarszewski@tribpub.com or 954-356-4556

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