It's all about tradition at the Manatee County Fair. Now it's drawn to a close, with scores of hard-won goldfish settling into new homes on tables and countertops from Bradenton Beach to Duette, it's high time to rest and recover.
The newest generation of fairgoers have learned for themselves all about the vagaries of corn dogs and elephant ears, not to mention the joys and hazards of Midway rides (who doesn't remember their first ride on the Zipper?).
To be sure, some things never change -- year after year, the brightest stars of the fair are the hundreds of children who participate in the youth livestock program.
Youngsters such as Meadowe Gross, one of 92 students who participate in Nolan Middle School's FFA program led by teacher Stefani Heidenthal, shown here walking the school's chapter pig, Haggard, as they work their showmanship smiles in the judging ring Jan. 13.
Of course, it all happens with the support of tireless and sometimes bleary-eyed parents, teachers and volunteers -- hats off to all of you for a job well done!