By Kate Quesada
The Florida Strawberry Festival, with its delicious food and exciting entertainment, has been a local favorite since 1930 and is back this year from March 2-12, promising to be better than ever.
According to festival Public Relations and Media Representative Lauren McNair, the strawberry-centered food at the event is always one of the biggest draws.
“We have about 150 food vendors with a wide variety of choices, so there really is something for everyone,” said McNair, who explained that strawberry shortcake is the most popular food item with about 250,000 sold during the 11-day festival last year.
McNair added that one of the best ways for strawberry lovers to navigate the event this year is by using the Strawberry Central page on the Website and mobile app.
“Visitors can use Strawberry Central to see a complete list of every food item we offer. It is the go-to place for those who come here for all things strawberry,” said McNair.
Other popular food items include strawberry milkshakes, corn dogs, Kettle Korn, Amish Doughnuts and chocolate covered bacon.
The festival also offers an impressive lineup of musical acts with many free concerts throughout the time and tickets available at an extra cost for headliners including Willie Nelson, 3 Doors Down, Little Big Town, The Bellamy Brothers, Elle King and Patti LaBelle.
“We sell about 9,000 seats to every show and offer 3,000 free seats on a first come, first seated basis in the Morrow Steel Free Grandstand,” said McNair.
However, events included in the ticket price include something for everyone with seven livestock shows, contests, displays and exhibits. Highlights include the Cabot Strawberry Smoothie event where Cabot Creamery will be creating the World Record Strawberry Smoothie on Friday, March 3 from 10 a.m.-6 p.m., ROBOCARS “Big Blue” and “Yellow Jacket,” the Tampa Bay Times Race Zone and nightly entertainment in the Public Showcase Tent. There are also magic, circus and milking shows, pig races and food contests from corn dog and strawberry mashed potato pie eating to strawberry stemming. Times for these events are available on the Website under the “Free Entertainment” tab.
McNair recommends the SunnyBell Kiddie Korral for families with young children.
“It is an area separate from the main midway that is smaller and offers rides just for kids,” said McNair. “Children will also want to see the Belmont Festival of Magic, the New Circus Incredible, the Florida Strawberry Growers Association Strawberry Production Display, which is a great agricultural education experience, and Robinson’s Racing Pigs.”
There is also a Youth Strawberry Stemming Contest on Saturday, March 4. The schedule for all of these events can also be found on the Website at www.flstrawberryfestival.com.
McNair credits the support of the community for the festival’s continued success.
“The people of Plant City are very proud of our agricultural roots, so the whole area works hard to make sure the festival is a success,” said McNair. “We have about 2,500 volunteers from the community, some of whom even take vacation time from their jobs so they can volunteer here, who want to contribute whatever they can to make sure visitors to Plant City receive a warm welcome and have a good experience here.”
For more information on the festival, visit www.flstrawberryfestival.com or call 752-9194. Tickets to the event can be purchased at the gate for $10 for adults and $5 for children 6-12. Some Public Supermarket locations sell discounted tickets. Visit the festival Website for a full list of store. The fairgrounds are located at 303 N. Lemon St. in Plant City.