Visitors at the Miami-Dade Youth Fair will pay a parking fee for the first time.
But managers say the system will pay off.
Robert Hohenstein, president and CEO of the fair, said the new system will improve the experience of entering and exiting the annual event.
“We believe, and the guest expects, that their experience when they come to the Youth Fair begins when they enter Tamiami Park,” Hohenstein said.
That experience includes multiple access points and a tram service to the entrance.
Drivers can enter the parking areas through entrances on Southwest 112th and 114th avenues at 24th Street, or through Southwest 21st and 22nd streets at 117th Avenue.
Guests can then make their way to any of the five tram stations throughout Tamiami Park, where the newly purchased trams will take them from their vehicle to the fair’s main gate and back. The trams, which carry 76 people each, will run continuously during hours of operation.
Ira Fefferman, owner of Special Events and Gala Transportation, said the tram stations were designed to cut through the park, avoiding oncoming traffic and minimizing wait time. His company is in charge of parking at the Miami-Dade County Youth Fair and Exposition.
“The idea is to put the control back in the customers’ hands,” Fefferman said. “The entire grounds will be designated with parking stalls.”
Parking passes are sold online for $5 through March 14, then will be raised to $8. The parking passes will be $10 if purchased at the fairgrounds where employees will accept cash, debit and credit cards.
Fefferman said that guests who want to park in the preferred parking area will be charged based on demand, anywhere from $15 to $30.
Richard Daker, the fair’s chief of security and loss prevention, said the trams will make the grounds more secure.
“We have parking all the way up to 117th Avenue, and a lot of times people park way out there on a busy night, and till we upgraded the tram system, they would have to walk from the fair to their cars,” Daker said. “We know if they’re walking, they have a chance of getting hit by a car in traffic.
“So by putting them on a tram, they’ll be much safer.”
Hohenstein said guests with handicap tags will be permitted to park for free as long as they are present and have the tag’s paperwork. Police officers will be enforcing the guidelines at every entrance.
A drop-off and pick-up zone is available for those arriving through ridesharing apps and the Miami-Dade Transit bus at Gate 7 at Southwest 107th Avenue and17th Street. An additional pedestrian gate will open from 2 to 10 p.m. Saturdays and Sundays at Gate 2 on 109th Avenue and 24th Street.
“Overall, our team is working diligently to ensure everyone has choices about how they arrive, from parking their car to coming to The Youth Fair through ride sharing apps or the Metro bus that drops off passengers right at our door,” Hohenstein said in a news release.
In 2017, The Youth Fair’s Blue-Ribbon College Scholarship Program awarded $530,000, between scholarships, cash premiums and awards, to students, Hohenstein said.
A portion of the funds from the parking fees will go to the scholarship program. Along with parking fees, the organization also raises money through its two annual fundraisers and its expense budget.
“What we, in a very expedited manner, want to do is not only grow the number in terms of the dollar amounts that we hand out, but, we also want to expand the amount of scholarships we hand out,” Hohenstein said.
According to the fair, the not-for-profit organization dedicated to promoting education and agriculture has provided the Miami-Dade community with more than $11 million throughout the years.
The Miami-Dade Youth Fair and Exposition will run from March 15 through April 8. The fair will be closed March 19-20 and April 2-3.
For information, visit http://www.thefair.me/thefair/fairinfo.php.