March 1 – March 11, 2012
Open 10:00am-10:100 pm daily
This weekend my husband and I attended the Florida Strawberry Festival in Plant City. This gargantuan event takes place in the spring of every year and is considered one of our nations Top 40 Festivals. The very first festival dates as far back as 1930 when the members of the Plant City Lions Club wanted to celebrate the bountiful strawberry harvest. Over the years it has grown in size and popularity. And after experiencing it firsthand, I know why people love it.
Plant City, located in Hillsborough County, Florida is home to 10,000+ acres of strawberry fields. (Florida and California are the top producer of strawberries in the nation.) The county also produces citrus fruits, tomatoes, okra, beans and other veggies as well as dairy products, pork and beef. There are some 2,800 farms here.
The festivals runs from March 1-11, 2012 and there are different activities every single day. There’s so much going on, that there’s no way you can see it all in one visit. It’s best to look at the schedule and plan out the events you want to attend. There are so many carnival rides that it is overwhelming. There are tents set up all over the fair grounds to house free live entertainment – everything you can imagine such as country music, Blue Grass groups, hypnotists, dancers, Mariachi bands, magic shows and more. There is also an outdoor main stage featuring star acts. Some of these concerts are free, while other require ticket purchases.
We attended the free Suite Caroline (age 14) concert, and it was fantastic!
The Gothard Sisters combine singing with fiddling and Irish dancing for a most entertaining performance
There are many different buildings on the fair grounds, and you’ll want to pass through all of them. One houses many exhibits from FFA members, some feature crafts and souvenirs and one showcases all the festival contest winners. There are many vendors selling items available for purchase. There are also contests for food, crafts, knitting, quilts, sewing, photography and so much more. If you plan ahead, you can enter one of many contests yourself.
Just a few of many colorful quilts in the winner’s showcase
I had to get a pair of strawberry earrings to remember this special event!
In keeping with the agricultural theme of the festival, there are lumberjill, strawberry stemming, livestock, poultry and rabbit competitions, to name a few. You can walk through the cattle barn and see all the contest entrants, young and old, caring for their animals. One of the highlights of our visit was watching a Junior Livestock Competition for first-time entrants, ages 8-18. It was interesting to listen to the judge tell the participants how he chose the winners.
Junior Livestock Competition Finalists
A young cowboy and his calf buddy curl up to take a rest in the livestock barn
Children competing in a strawberry stemming contest
Naturally food is a big part of the festival celebration. There are countless food stands, but without a doubt the main event is strawberries. You can buy them by the flat, quart, chocolate dipped, strawberry shakes, smoothies, jams and of course strawberry shortcake! We even saw strawberry cookies, strawberry brownies and strawberry donuts.
Just picked and dipped chocolate covered strawberries, one of life’s greatest indulgences
Apparently chocolate even tastes good with bacon!
At night the carnival lights up the entire city. We took two Ferris wheel rides on the opposite sides of the grounds so we could see the entire festival from a bird’s eye point of view. It is the only way to truly get a sense for how tremendous this fair really is.
The Ferris wheel at night under the light of the moon
A view from the Ferris wheel – see the screen in the back? That’s Main Stage where Air Supply was performing that night
An exhibit shows us just how strawberries are grown
Me in strawberry heaven!
So what are you waiting for?
Hurry up and go!