Annual Festival Celebrates Plant City’s Sweet Berries

It’s that time of year again! When the frost has thawed and the sweet red berries that call Plant City home are at their peak and celebrated with the annual Florida Strawberry Festival, taking place this year from Thursday, March 1- Sunday, March 11.

This year’s theme for the festival is “Growing Sweet Memories,” which is apropos being that this is the 77th year that the city has reveled in the fruit.

Plant City is known as the winter capital of the world for strawberries. On its Website, the Florida Strawberry Festival touts, “more than 10,000 acres of strawberries are planted annually in the local area. In fact, there are some 2,800 farms in Hillsborough County that produce fruit and vegetable crops with an annual value of over $400 million. This county is now one of the largest agricultural counties in the nation.”

This year, expect 80 rides and more than 400 vendors selling everything strawberry like cobbler, shortcake, chocolate covered, milkshakes, pizza, churros and more. Other vendors will offer retail splashed in strawberry decor.

In addition to the food and goods available for sale at the festival, one of the most popular attractions are the concerts, held every year on the Wish Farms Soundstage and this year is no exception with 26 concerts being held over 11 days. Headline entertainment include acts like The Band Perry, Jake Owen, Hank Williams, Jr., The JaneDear Girls, teen sensation Demi Lovato, Josh Turner, Vince Gill, The Charlie Daniels Band, Luke Bryan, Rodney Atkins, Easton Corbin and country queen Reba.

If rides, food and music aren’t your thing, there’s even more in store at the festival. The Neighborhood Market is dedicated to homemade and handcrafted items, “created by folks in our community.” There are also livestock shows, including the racing pigs. There are also 4H shows, including swine, beef, poultry, lamb, dairy, rabbits and more. There is also a plant show and sale.

Even with its growing reputation, the Strawberry Festival has maintained its low gate admission prices for the past few years. Adult tickets are $10 with youth from ago 6-12 costing $5. Advance tickets, as always, are available at Sweetbay Supermarkets for $8 for adults and $4 for youth.

According to its Website, today, the annual event has become one of the best festivals in the nation, and now ranks among the Top 40 Fairs in North America.

The 2012 Strawberry Festival is located at 303 N. Lemon St. in Plant City. A map of the festival ground is located on the Website, along with information on all of the concerts, vendors and other goings-on at www.flstrawberryfestival.com.