Tuesday, November 21, 2017
Events

Florida Strawberry Festival guide: Schedule, ticket deals, food highlights, concerts and more

RECOMMENDED READING


The Florida Strawberry Festival, founded in 1930, keeps its old-fashioned charm with an 80-ride midway, contests, agriculture exhibits and of course, strawberries in every form. There's no alcohol and festival organizers pride themselves on family-friendly, even corny, diversions and contests. The formula must work because the Plant City festival remains the second-largest in the state, just behind the Miami-Dade County Fair, and drew a record 560,387 visitors in 2016. Here are some basics if you head to this year's Florida Strawberry Festival:

Admission: $10, $5 ages 6 to 12, 5 and younger free. Concert tickets are extra.

Dates: March 2 through March 12.

Hours: 10 a.m. to 10 p.m.

Directions: The festival grounds are at 303 N Lemon St., Plant City. Every year, Interstate 4 comes to a crawl in Plant City, especially on the weekends or before a big concert. Avoid I-4 by taking State Road 60 through Brandon and using local roads. Find detailed directions for back roads here: tbtim.es/egv

Parking: There are three designated lots on the festival grounds, and numerous private lots and yards surrounding the festival for $5 to $15 depending on vehicle size.

Deals: Free Kids Day is Saturday, March 4 with free admission for kids through high school. Moonlight Magic Nights on Friday, March 3 and March 10 let you ride most midway rides for $30 from 10 p.m. until 2 a.m. And Super Saturday Wristband Days on Saturday, March 4 and March 11 let you ride most midway rides for $25 from 10 a.m. until 11 p.m.

Daily entertainment: There's a variety of free concerts, as well as a magic show, a circus show, racing pigs, cow milking, strawberry production exhibit, a pioneer village and Indian World.

For information: Follow the festival on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram and the hashtag #berryfest17. The festival also has a free app that has the day's schedule, a map and a tool to help you find where you parked your car. flstrawberryfestival.com. (813) 752-9194.

 

Related: Little Big Town part of big concert lineup at Strawberry Festival

 

EVENT HIGHLIGHTS

 

Smoothie record attempt: On Friday, Cabot Creamery will attempt to set a world record with a 1,000-gallon smoothie. Their tent near Gate 1 will use 250 gallons of vanilla yogurt mixed with ice, whey protein powder and 2,000 pounds of strawberries. For added showmanship, from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., special guests will pedal bicycles in 15 minute intervals to power the Vitamix blenders whirring the 1,000-gallon holding tank. A $1 donation to the United Food Bank gets you a commemorative cup and a smoothie after the record is reached.

Contests: There are six different food contests over the 11-day festival including a corn dog eating contest March 8, a strawberry spaghetti eating contest (that's spaghetti in a strawberry sauce) on Monday, March 6, and strawberry shortcake eating on March 9. The kids compete on Sunday to be the first stemmer to pick all the green parts off a pack of berries. Adults will be speed-stemming on Tuesday.

Parades: The Youth Parade begins at 11 a.m. Saturday, March 4 and runs down Reynolds Street on the south end of the fairgrounds. Grand Parade Day is Monday, when the parade passes the festival grounds around 2 p.m.

 

FOOD

All about that berry: Plan to pick up a flat of berries because the Plant City farmers pride themselves on sending the very best strawberries to the festival. For more berry goodness, the festival is famous for its strawberry milk shakes, strawberry pie, a strawberry dessert pizza and the famous strawberry shortcake. The shortcake lines may be long, but they move swiftly. There's also odd takes on the berry, like Carousel's hamburger topped with crumbles of strawberry cookies, sandwiched between two pieces of French toast and topped with strawberries. And you can find strawberry lemonade, strawberry-flavored kettle corn and peanut brittle with a sweet strawberry twist.

 

Fair food: New this year are the deep-fried strawberry cream cheese balls topped with powdered sugar from Best Around Concessions. That stand is also bringing back the Oreo funnel cake (think two giant Oreo cookie funnel cakes sandwiching a cream cheese filling). Carousel's Hush Puppy Burger is back this year, buns replaced by hush puppy patties. Carousel also has a burger that uses strawberry shortcakes as buns. The popular Amish doughnut stand pushes out dinner plate-sized wheels of yeasty fried dough. Other returning favorites include roasted corn, giant turkey legs, massive pretzels, a variety of corn dogs and thick slices of bacon with a cup of chocolate dipping sauce.

 

 

 

CONCERTS SCHEDULE

 

This year's headline music performers include Willie Nelson and Family (March 3, 3:30 p.m.), early aughts stars 3 Doors Down (March 4, 7:30 p.m.), country band Little Big Town (March 5, 7:30 p.m.), rockers Needtobreath (March 7, 7:30 p.m.), country crooner Scotty McCreery (March 8, 7:30 p.m.), Dan Aykroyd and Jim Belushi as The Blues Brothers (March 9, 7:30 p.m.), Ex's & Oh's singer Elle King (March 10, 7:30 p.m.), the legendary Patti LaBelle (March 11, 7:30 p.m.) and country superstars Rascal Flatts (March 12, 7:30 p.m.).

Find the complete Florida Strawberry Festival concert lineup and more information about music at the festival here.

Contact Sharon Kennedy Wynne at swynne@tampabay.com. Follow @SharonKWn.

     
Comments
Here's where to see Christmas lights in Tampa Bay

Here's where to see Christmas lights in Tampa Bay

Once the Thanksgiving leftovers are put away, you can stop grumbling about it being too early for Christmas lights and decorations. Let the grand illuminations begin! Despite our tropical climate, or maybe because of it, Tampa Bay goes all out when ...
Updated: 2 hours ago
Plan your weekend: Indie shopping, Lindsey Stirling, ice skating, Amy Grant and Michael W. Smith

Plan your weekend: Indie shopping, Lindsey Stirling, ice skating, Amy Grant and Michael W. Smith

Plan your weekendShoppingBlack Friday: Avoid the madness of the malls at a variety of indie shopping experiences this weekend. Skatepark of Tampa has one of the best sneaker selections in Tampa Bay and free skating all day Friday to celebrate. Theyíl...
Updated: 4 hours ago
Meet Amazonís bawdy, opinionated Marvelous Mrs. Maisel

Meet Amazonís bawdy, opinionated Marvelous Mrs. Maisel

Miriam "Midge" Maisel seems to have it all.Itís 1958 New York City, Upper West Side, and sheís a quick-witted Jewish housewife with two kids. She and her husband live in a plush apartment just a few floors below her meddling yet endearing parents.Heí...
Updated: 5 hours ago
Top things to do in Tampa Bay for Nov. 24

Top things to do in Tampa Bay for Nov. 24

St. Petersburg Tree Lighting: Mayor Kriseman flips the switch to illuminate the city’s Christmas tree at this celebration with live entertainment. 5 p.m., North Straub Park, Fifth Avenue NE and Bayshore Drive, St. Petersburg. Free. (727) 893-74...
Updated: 7 hours ago
Legendary guitarist John McLaughlin talks about his last tour

Legendary guitarist John McLaughlin talks about his last tour

As you might imagine, quite a lot of thought goes into planning your final tour ever. "It’s not a light decision to not tour again, but that really is the situation," said John McLaughlin, the guitarist behind legendary jazz-rock fusion outfit...
Published: 11/21/17
Fun things to do in Tampa Bay for Wednesday, Nov. 22

Fun things to do in Tampa Bay for Wednesday, Nov. 22

Much Ado About Nothing: William Shakespeare’s romantic comedy gets an update by placing lovers Beatrice and Benedick against the backdrop of the Florida Keys as World War II is drawing to a close. Through Dec. 10. 7 p.m., American Stage Theatre...
Updated: 2 hours ago
10 things to do for fun in Tampa Bay on Tuesday

10 things to do for fun in Tampa Bay on Tuesday

Ice Skating at Tampa’s Winter Village: Even in Florida, you can get in the holiday spirit by ice skating on an outdoor rink in the park. Each 90-minute session includes skate rental. Stop by the cafe for themed drinks and holiday snacks. 10 a.m...
Updated: 10 hours ago
11 fun things to do in Tampa Bay on Thanksgiving day

11 fun things to do in Tampa Bay on Thanksgiving day

Christmas Town at Busch Gardens: More than 2 million twinkling lights transform the park into a holiday wonderland with Rudolph, Sam the Snowman, Christmas-themed entertainment and visits with Santa. Included with admission on select nights through D...
Updated: 10 hours ago
Top things to do in Tampa Bay for the week of Nov. 20-26

Top things to do in Tampa Bay for the week of Nov. 20-26

Thanksgiving Day races: Get those calories burning early on Thursday, so you won’t feel as guilty about that second piece of pie. The Times Turkey Trot kicks off at Clearwater High School and features a buffet of races, including the 1-mile Gob...
Updated: 10 hours ago
Holiday-themed events dot the East Hillsborough landscape

Holiday-themed events dot the East Hillsborough landscape

East Hillsborough residents will have three holiday-themed events to help brighten the season this year.Christmas Lane, the long-time holiday celebration that started on an area farm, launches another season of festivities at its current spot, the Fl...
Published: 11/17/17
Updated: 11/19/17