reba mcentire
Reba McEntire performs on Sunday, March 1. (Photo by Gage Skidmore)

PLANT CITY — The Florida Strawberry Festival rocks this normally quiet agricultural town, attracting thousands of fans to the epicenter of strawberry fields — Plant City.

Folks have been harvesting strawberries near Plant City since the 19th Century, giving plenty of cred to its claim as the Winter Strawberry Capital of the World.

Every year since 1930, residents show off at harvest time with Florida’s largest agricultural festival. In 2019, 539,000 visitors converged on Plant City for the 11-day event.

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.

The entertainment line-up, year after year, is extraordinary.


2020 Strawberry Festival 

Tickets will be available beginning December 12, 2019, and can be purchased online at www.flstrawberryfestival.com, by phone at 813-754-1996, or in person at the Amscot Main Ticket Gate, 2209 West Oak Avenue, Plant City.

2020 Festival admission is $10 for adults (13+) and $5 for children 6-12. Children 5 and under free when accompanied by an adult. Discount admission, $8, available at participating Publix Supermarkets as of January 31, 2020.

Gates open at 10 a.m. daily and close at 10 p.m.

Concert tickets for the Wish Farms Soundstage are additional.


Headline Entertainment / Wish Farms Soundstage

Concert tickets are not included in festival admission and must be purchased separately. Concert tickets go on sale December, 12, 2019.

Rascal Flatts perform Thursday, Feb. 27

Thursday, Feb. 27

Friday, Feb. 28

Saturday, Feb. 29

Sunday, March 1

Monday, March 2

Sara Evans
Sara Evans to perform Tuesday, March 3

Tuesday, March 3

Wednesday, March 4

Thursday, March 5

Friday, March 6

Saturday, March 7

  • 3:30 p.m. – Battle of the Bands Finale, Free
  • 7:30 p.m. – Charlie Wilson, $45
Lynyrd Skynyrd
Lynyrd Skynyrd performs Sunday, March 8

Sunday, March 8

Concert tickets will be available December 12 online at www.flstrawberryfestival.com, by phone at 813-754-1996 or in person at the Amscot Main Ticket Gate at 2209 Oak Ave. in Plant City. Service charges apply to Internet and phone orders.

Free Entertainment & Battle of the Bands

In addition to the headline acts on the Wish Farms Soundstage, there will be free entertainment on multiple stages throughout the festival grounds.

Battle of the Bands. Application deadline was Oct. 31. Online voting begins in December. Preliminary battles take place in the Publix Supermarket Showcase Tent at 6 pm on Thurs. 2/27, Mon. 3/2, Tues. 3/3, Wed. 3/4 and Thurs. 3/5. The final battle will take place at the Wish Farms Soundstage on Sat., 3/7, 3:30 p.m.


Food

You’ll find the usual fair food in the Midway, from corn dogs to pig’s ears and everything in between.

But we loved the variations on strawberries throughout the festival grounds.

From strawberry pizza (really!) to the Wish Farms Make Your Own Shortcake Booth, there is no shortage of opportunities to enjoy this heavenly fruit.


Places to Stay

Bed and Breakfasts

Back to Eden B&B in Plant City.Back To Eden B&B. Unique plantation-style country inn with a swimming pool on 6-1/2 acres. The owners promote a healthy Christian lifestyle. Five themed rooms. 4906 Thonotosassa Road, Plant City, FL 33565 (888) 808-8018

Strrawberry House in Plant CityStrawberry House B&B in the downtown Historic District, near antique shops, dining and shopping. The inn has four rooms with private baths. 805 N. Wheeler Street, Plant City, FL 33563. (813) 759-0279.

Sparkman House B&B in Plant City’s historic district. 1905 Queen Anne style house boasts 12-foot ceilings, wrap-around porch, 5 bedrooms in the main house plus a carriage house. 707 N. Collins St. Plant City, Fl 33563. 813-787-6068.

Palmer House. Country B&B with grandfather oaks features 5 bedrooms, pool and a hot tub. 15 miles from Plant City at 2221 Hinton Ranch Rd, Lithia, FL 33547(813) 654-0961


Book a hotel room near Plant City on Hotels.com


Campgrounds near Plant City

Campsite at Hillsborough River State Park near Tampa
Campsite at Hillsborough River State Park

Last year, my wife and I camped at Hillsborough River State Park for a week in our travel trailer and loved it. We scheduled our festival visits around musical performances we wanted to see. On the off days, we kayaked the river, hiked a few trails, took a day trip to Ybor City in Tampa and visited a friend in Tarpon Springs. 

This year, we have already booked our campsite at Alafia River State Park, where we plan to paddle the Alafia River, ride the park’s challenging off-road bike trails and visit a few of the spectacular beaches near Clearwater.

Plant City is on I-4, between Orlando and Tampa, so there are many campgrounds from which to choose. These are our favorites:

Hillsborough River State Park. 15402 U.S. 301 North, Thonotosassas. 20 miles to Plant City. State park has 112 sites with water, electric, picnic tables, fire ring. Dump station on site. Activities include fishing, canoeing and kayaking. Seven miles of nature trails for hikers. 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. Reservations accepted by phone, 800-326-3521, or online through ReserveAmerica

Read more: Hillsborough River State Park offers a wilderness experience near Tampa

Alafia River State Park, County Road 39 S, Lithia. 18 miles to Plant City. Alafia has some of the most challenging off-road bicycle trails in Florida, rambling 17 miles through varying elevations. Hikers and equestrians enjoy another 20 miles of hiking and horse trails. Access to lakes and the river for kayaks and canoes, as well as fishing. 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 through ReserveAmerica.

Read more: Alafia River: Kayaking through tame rapids a half hour from Tampa

Edward Medard Park and Reservoir, 5276 Panther Loop, Plant City. 10 miles from Plant City. This 1200-acre park is co-managed by Hillsborough County and the Southwest Florida Water Management District and includes a 700-acre reservoir with a white sand beach and boat access for paddlers and fisherman. Equestrians (bring your own horse) enjoy a 3.25-mile bridle path. There are 40 campsites with water, electric, picnic tables and grills on two heavily wooded loops near the lake. Reservations are not accepted and sites are $24 per night, first come, first served. ($18 for seniors). Call (813) 975-2160 for more information, or visit their web site: Edward Medard Park and Reservoir

Read more: Best Camping Near Tampa: 9 Choice Campgrounds

Lithia Springs County Park, 3932 Lithia Springs Road, Lithia. 18 miles from Plant City. This county campground has 40 sites for RV, tents and trailers with fire ring, picnic table, water and electric hookups. Dump station on site. I love this 160-acre park for its natural spring swimming hole. The spring flows into the Alafia River for canoeing and kayaking. 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.

Read more: Camping Near Tampa: Lithia Springs Park

More nearby natural Florida camping:

Best Camping Near Tampa: 9 Choice Campgrounds

Woodsy cabins near Orlando

7 cool parks for camping near Disney


Things To Do

Parkesdale Farm Market, www.parkesdale.com 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

Fred’s Southern Kitchen, www.fredsmarket.com 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. 1401 W. MLK Blvd., Plant City, FL 33563, (813) 752-7763

Dinosaur World , www.dinosaurworld.com 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

It’ll be a strawberry pickin’ good time!

If you want to avoid the crowds during the Strawberry Festival, you can visit Plant City any time during the berry-picking season — 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)

Tips for 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.
  • Pick every ripe berry on each plant rather than jumping from plant to plant.

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.


Adventures near Plant City:

Birding near Lakeland: Circle B Bar Reserve

Van Fleet Bike Trail: 29 Miles of Rural Solitude

Withlacoochee River: Scenic kayak trail

Major League Baseball: Spring Training Guide

Manatees: Where to see manatees in Florida


More Related Links

Florida Strawberry Festival

Helpful Tips for Attending the Strawberry Festival

Yelp! Reviews of the Strawberry Festival

Florida Strawberry Growers Association

Directions: Easily accessible from Interstate 4 via Exits 17, 19 and 21. Follow the signs. 

2 Comments

  1. Avatar

    any bus trips from Ft myers, fl

    • Bob Rountree

      Hi Pat!
      That’s a great question!! It appears that in past years, Charlotte County Parks and Recreation has sponsored charters to the Strawberry Festival from Port Charlotte. Their telephone number is (941) 625-7529. You might also consider regular Greyhound Service from Fort Myers to Tampa ($12 economy, 3 hours 40 minutes). Then book an Uber to take you directly from the Tampa Greyhound Station to Plant City ($31-$37). Let us know what you decide!

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