Where can you find agricultural shows, fun contests, rides, parades, great country entertainment and strawberry delights in one place at an affordable price? The Florida Strawberry Festival, of course! The festival celebrates the area's biggest crop and typically includes all things strawberry — from vendors offering everything from berry-themed crafts to flats of the red fruit.
They don't call it the "Winter Strawberry Capital of the World" for nothing — because there's nothing like Plant City's strawberries! You won't be able to resist all the tasty treats and delicious delights prepared with mouth-watering fresh strawberries. And, you can even test your limit in the strawberry shortcake eating contest!
The Florida Strawberry Festival was born in the 1930s when the newly organized Plant City Lions Club had the idea to unite communities through the celebration of the strawberry harvest. The Lions Club and other civic organizations have participated in the festival throughout its long history. The American Legion Post #26 is also recognized for its effort in getting the Florida Strawberry Festival reactivated in 1948 following a six year hiatus during and immediately following World War II. Now "The Florida Strawberry Festival Association" is governed by a board of directors from the local community and a small staff who work year round to make the Strawberry Festival one of the top 30 of such events in North America.
This family-oriented event features arts, crafts, horticulture, livestock, agriculture, fine arts, rides, entertainment and so much more. Here are just a few of the highlights:
The Mighty Bluegrass Show's Carnival features over 60 thrilling rides in the Midway. Younger festival-goers will get their own thrills in the Strawberry Patch Kiddy Corral.
Many showcase their talents in art and photography, while school children display shoe box floats that they've constructed. Even the wee ones get involved in the very popular baby contests where prizes are awarded in such categories as best decorated diaper and the diaper derby.
The agricultural shows and exhibits are a great way for children to learn how farming communities function. Some children get to see animals they've only seen in books, so it is a great educational experience too.
Perhaps almost as famous as its strawberries, is the Florida Strawberry Festival's entertainment line-up. Year after year, the Festival draws some of the finest rock and country music performers for its toe-tappin' concerts. The 2013 line-up has been announced (along with ticket prices):
- Thursday, February 28
10:30 a.m. Jimmy Sturr & Orchestra (FREE*)
3:30 p.m. Chubby Checker ($15 & $20)
7:30 p.m. FOREIGNER ($25)
- Friday, March 1
3:30 p.m. Gene Watson ($15 & $20)
7:30 p.m. Casting Crowns ($20 $ $25)
- Saturday, March 2
1:00 p.m. Caroline Kole (FREE*)
3:30 p.m. TBA
7:30 p.m. Justin Moore ($15 & $20)
- Sunday, March 3
3:30 p.m. Randy Houser ($15 & $20)
7:30 p.m. TBA
- Monday, March 4
3:30 p.m. Grits and Glamour Tour with Lorrie Morgan and Pam Tillis ($15 & $20)
7:30 p.m. Dwight Yoakam ($20 & $25)
- Tuesday, March 5
3:30 p.m. Bobbi Vinton ($15 & $20)
7:30 p.m. Martina McBride ($30)
- Wednesday, March 6
3:30 p.m. Neal McCoy ($15 & $20)
7:30 p.m. Trace Adkins ($30)
- Thursday, March 7
10:30 a.m. Steve Hall & the Shotgun Red Show (FREE*)
3:30 p.m. Mel Tillis ($15 & 20)
7:30 p.m. Brantley Gilbert ($35)
- Friday, March 8
3:30 p.m. T.G. Sheppard and Janie Fricke ($15 & $20)
7:30 p.m. Scotty McCreery ($25 & $30)
- Saturday, March 9
3:30 p.m. Gaither Vocal Band ($20 & $25)
7:30 p.m. Bret Michaels ($25 & $30)
- Sunday, March 10
3:30 p.m. TBA
7:30 p.m. Blake Shelton ($55)
There are also about 3,000 free seats at each show available on a first come, first seated basis.
*Indicates concerts are free with paid admission to Strawberry Festival.
If you go, expect a lot of traffic, especially on the weekends and plan your travel accordingly.
The 2013 Florida Strawberry Festival will be held February 28 to March 10. Advance admission and concert tickets will go on sale on December 3, 2012. General advance admission ticket prices are $8 for adults, $4 for children ages 6-12 and children 5 and under are admitted free with a paid adult. Concert tickets are $15 to $55, depending on the artist and date. Once tickets go on sale, they can be purchased at the ticket office, 2209 W. Oak Avenue, Plant City or online. Advance admission tickets will go on sale at Sweetbay Supermarkets beginning in mid-February and continuing throughout the festival. Regular gate admission prices apply at the gate once the festival is open — prices are $10 for adults and $5 for children.
Special festival days are:
- Thursdays, February 28 and March 7 - SENIOR DAYS, ages 60 and over get $2 off regular gate admission of $10.
- Saturday, March 2 - FREE KIDS DAY, kids through high school age are admitted free.
- Tuesday, March 5 - RED HAT DAY, Red Hatters get $2 off regular gate admission of $10.
- Wednesday, March 6 - AMERICAN HEROES DAY, all active, reserve, retired military, veterans, law enforcement & first responders are admitted free with a valid ID.
The festival grounds are located about 15 miles east of Tampa.
From Orlando, take I-4 West towards Tampa. Exit at Thonotosassa Road (Exit 19 - SR 566 - Old Exit 11). Turn left on Thonotosassa Road and travel through red light onto Lemon Street. At 4-way stop turn right on Oak Street. The ticket office is approximately two blocks on the left.
From Tampa, take I-4 East towards Orlando. Exit at Thonotosassa Road (Exit 19 - SR 566 - Old Exit 11). Turn right on Thonotosassa Road and travel through red light onto Lemon Street. At 4-way stop turn right on Oak Street. The ticket office is approximately two blocks on the left.