Florida’s Most Popular Harvest Festival
This article includes:
Complete list of headline acts
B&Bs and Lodging in Plant City
Campgrounds near Plant City
Things to Do in Plant City
An all-star line-up of top country, rock and pop performers is on tap for the 2013 Florida Strawberry Festival, rural Plant City’s hugely popular annual celebration of the harvest.
Among the headliners this year are country stars Blake Shelton, Lorrie Morgan, Dwight Yoakam, Martina McBride and Trace Adkins, legendary rockers Foreigner and Bret Michaels, pop icons Chubby Checker and Bobby Vinton, and American Idol winner Scotty McCreery.
Wrapping it all up on Sunday, March 10, is country megastar Blake Shelton.
OK, so Plant City may not be on your bucket list. After all, it’s just a quiet little town in the middle of a rural agricultural community that just happens to grow strawberries. Lots of strawberries. In fact, Plant City is the Winter Strawberry Capital of the World.
Every year — dating back to 1930 — they show off big time at harvest time. This is no small shindig – more than a million people attend the 11-day event annually.
The festival runs for 11 days in February and March
The Florida Strawberry Festival in Plant City rivals any state fair in the country with its agricultural displays, livestock shows, arts and crafts, local food, headline music concerts and huge carnival midway.
And let’s not forget the Strawberry Queen and her court!
Here’s the 2013 headline entertainment line-up:
- Thursday, Feb. 28 — 10:30 am Jimmy Sturr (Free); 3:30 pm Chubby Checker ($15-20) 7:30 pm Foreigner ($25)
- Friday, March 1 — 3:30 pm Gene Watson ($15-20); 7:30 pm Casting Crowns ($20-25)
- Saturday, March 2 — 1:00 pm Caroline Kole (Free); 3:30 pm TBA; 7:30 pm Justin Moore ($15-20)
- Sunday, March 3 — 3:30 pm Randy Houser ($15-20); 7:30 pm TBA
- Monday, March 4 — 3:30 pm Lorrie Morgan & Pam Tillis ($15-20); 7:30 pm Dwight Yoakam ($20-25)
- Tuesday, March 5 — 3:30 pm Bobby Vinton ($15-20); 7:30 pm Martina McBride ($30)
- Wednesday, March 6 — 3:30 pm Neal McCoy ($15-20); 7:30 pm Trace Adkins ($30)
- Thursday, March 7 — 3:30 pm Mel Tillis ($15-20); 7:30 pm Brantley Gilbert ($35)
- Friday, March 8 — 3:30 pm TG Sheppard & Janie Fricke ($15-20); 7:30 pm Scotty McCreery ($25-30)
- Saturday, March 9 — 3:30 pm The Gaithers ($20-25); 7:30 pm Bret Michaels ($25-$30)
- Sunday, March 10 — 3:30 pm TBA; 7:30 pm Blake Shelton ($55)
Tickets for concerts and festival admission go on sale Monday, Dec. 3, at 8 am online at www.flstrawberryfestival.com, by phone at 813-754-1996, or in person at the Amscot Main Ticket Gate, 2209 West Oak Avenue in Plant City.
General admission tickets will also be available in advance at Sweet Bay Supermarkets.
Concert tickets and festival admission are sold separately. Advanced-sale festival admission is $8 for adults and $4 for children. (Gate admission is set at $10 for adults, $5 for children.)
There will also be free entertainment in throught the 11 days of the festival.
It’ll be a strawberry pickin’ good time!
If you want to avoid the crowds during the Strawberry Festival, you can visit this area any time during the berry-picking season, from January through April and be immersed in the strawberry culture. (Blueberries are also grown here, with the harvest’s peak in May.)
Although most commercial growers in the area do not allow you to pick your own strawberries, there are a few family farms that do. Here’s one that comes recommended by readers at pickyourown.org: Spivey Farms, 6101 South County Road 39, Plant City, FL 33567 (813) 650-8999 (Call for hours)
Picking your own strawberries:
- Dress comfortably. Wear loose fit clothing.
- Wear a hat or cap and bring sunscreen.
- Bring your own containers.
- If you plan to spend the day, take ice to keep berries cool.
- Select only firm ripe berries.
- Be careful not to remove the tops of the berries.
- Make an effort to pick every ripe berry on each plant rather than jumping from plant to plant and row to row.
Did you pick too many strawberries? Check out Louise Sanchez’ Herbs, Crafts and Gifts blog about canning strawberries that her husband picked at the Strawberry Palace on U.S. 60 in Plant City.
Things To Do In Plant City
The largest family operated strawberry and citrus market in Florida, this farm harvests more than 3 million pounds of strawberries each year. You can also find plenty of citrus and other locally grown produce. 3702 W. Baker Street, Plant City, FL 33563, (813) 752-0502
The Johnson family has turned Southern cooking into a major attraction around Plant City, especially now that the legendary Branch Ranch Dining Room has closed. Fred’s Southern Kitchen is ranked No. 1 of 39 restaurants in Plant City on TripAdvisor. http://www.tripadvisor.com/Restaurants-g34564-Plant_City_Florida.html 1401 W. MLK Blvd., Plant City, FL 33563, (813) 752-7763
A great diversion for the kids, Dinosaur World is an outdoor “museum” where you can see 150 life-sized models of prehistoric dinosaurs. Built on the site of a former alligator farm, the dinosaur models are up to 80 feet in length and are grouped as they may have lived in a variety of settings and lush vegetation. 5145 Harvey Tew Road, Plant City, FL (813) 717-9865
Book A Room Near Plant City
RV and Tent Campgrounds Near Plant City
Hillsborough River State Park. 15402 U.S. 301 North, Thonotosassas, FL 33592. This state park has 112 sites with water, electric, picnic tables and fire ring. (Dump station available.) The Hillsborough River cuts through the park, offering opportunities for fishing, canoeing and kayaking. Hikers will find seven miles of nature trails. Bicycles permitted on the 2.2-mile Park Loop and the 1.6-mile Wetlands Restoration Trail. Rates: $24 per night, includes water and electric. Some walk-on sites. Call (813) 987-6771 for more information.
- Reservations accepted by phone, 800-326-3521, or online through ReserveAmerica
- Distance to Plant City: 20 miles
- Web site: Hillsborough River State Park
Alafia River State Park, County Road 39 S, Lithia, FL. Alafia has some of the most challenging off-road bicycle trails in Florida, rambling 17 miles through the park’s varying elevations. Hikers and equestrians have another 20 miles of hiking and horse trails available, and there is access to lakes and the river for kayaks and canoes, as well as fishing. The campground lies along the conifer-lined shore of Lake Alafia with great views. There are 30 spacious campsites with electric, water, picnic tables and a fire ring. Rates: $22 per night.
- Reservations accepted by phone, 800-326-3521, or online at online through ReserveAmerica.
- Distance to Plant City: 18 miles
- Web site: Alafia River State Park
Edward Medard Park and Reservoir, 5276 Panther Loop, Plant City, FL. This 1200-acre park is co-managed by Hillsborough County and the Southwest Florida Water Management District. It includes a 700-acre reservoir with a white sand beach with boat access for paddlers and fisherman. Equestrians enjoy the 3.25-mile bridle path, and you can rent horses at stables near the park. Hiking is also available on all roads and trails. There are 40 campsites with water, electric, picnic tables and grills located on two heavily wooded loops near the lake. Reservations are not accepted and sites are $16 per night, first come, first served. Call (813) 975-2160 for more information.
- Reservations not accepted. Walk-ups only.
- Distance to Plant City: 10 miles
- Web site: Edward Medard Park and Reservoir
Lithia Springs County Park, 3932 Lithia Springs Road, Lithia, FL 33547. This campground has 40 sites for RV, tents and trailers with fire ring, table, water and electric hookups. (Dump station on site). The major attraction of this 160-acre park is its natural spring with excellent swimming. The spring feeds the Alafia River, offering multiple canoe and kayaking opportunities. Rates: $24 ($18 for seniors). No reservations accepted. Walk-ons only, first come, first served. Credit cards are not accepted. Call (813) 744-5572 for more information.
- Reservations not accepted. Walk-ups only.
- Distance to Plant City: 18 miles
- Florida Rambler article, Camping Near Tampa: Lithia Springs Park
More nearby natural Florida camping: Best Camping Near Tampa: 9 Choice Campgrounds
B&Bs in Plant City:
Dave and Sherry Orcutt are your hosts at this unique plantation-style country inn with a swimming pool on six and a half acres with a long private drive. The Orcutts promote a healthy Christian lifestyle. There are five themed rooms ranging in price from $125- $185 per night. 4906 Thonotosassa Road, Plant City, FL 33565 (888) 808-8018
Located in the Historic District of downtown, the Strawberry House is just four blocks away from Plant City’s antique shops, dining and shopping. Your privacy is assured with the inn’s four rooms with private baths ranging in price from $65 to $95. 805 N. Wheeler Street, Plant City, FL 33563 (813) 759-0279.
Other Florida Rambler adventures near Plant City:
Directions: Easily accessible from Interstae-4 via Exits 17, 19 and 21. Follow the signs. Click here for a downloadable site map that identifies event locations and parking.