florida strawberry festivalPLANT 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. (See below)


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 starting 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 available 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.


rascalflatts Rascal Flatts opens 11-day Florida Strawberry Festival on Feb 27
Rascal Flatts are featured on the opening night of the Strawberry Festival

Thursday, Feb. 27

Friday, Feb. 28

Saturday, Feb. 29

reba mcentire
Reba is sold out.

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 available 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, and a lot of unusual food throughout the fairgrounds!

We love the variations on strawberries throughout the festival grounds. From strawberry pizza (really!) and Make Your Own Strawberry Shortcake to this year’s new Strawberry Cheesecake Elephant Ear!

New Food Items for 2020

Strawberry Cheesecake Elephant Ear

A sweet strawberry flavored dough is flattened through a sheeter and deep fried. Then it is slathered with a thin layer of liquid butter, sprinkled with powdered sugar and topped with freshcut strawberries and a heaping mound of homemade cream cheese icing. Located at Best Around Concessions near Smithfield Strawberry Tent.

Strawberry Cream Cheese Delight Calzone

A traditional calzone gets a twist: fresh dough, stretched flat, then piled high with a strawberry filling and deep fried to a golden brown. Sprinkled with powdered sugar, drizzled with chocolate sauce and topped with rich whipped cream and served with a side of cream cheese for dipping. Located at Taylor’s Doughboy stand on the southside of the Parke Building.

Carousel’s new hamburger creations

Featuring two new hamburger creations, Carousel Concessions has skillfully sandwiched a hamburger patty between two deep-fried Ramen Noodle buns. If Ramen Noodles aren’t your thing, you should try their waffle bun piled high with fresh Plant City strawberries and sweet maple syrup. Located near Neighborhood Village.

Piggy Palace’s Strawberry Piggy Shortcake

A non-traditional take on a strawberry classic. The piggy shortcake includes sweet cornbread, pulled pork and a drizzle of homemade strawberry barbeque sauce. Located near Gate 10. Chocolate Covered Bacon Kabob Featuring fresh Plant City strawberries on a kabob, covered with silky milk chocolate and showered with chucks of bacon. Located at the Sunshine Concessions stand near Woodrow Wilson Street.

Cookie Barn’s Strawberry Cookie with White Chocolate Chips

Calling all strawberry cookie lovers! These delectable sweet berry treats are sure to please. Located on the north side of the Stadium Exhibit Hall.

French Onion Grilled Cheese

It has all your favorites of a great bowl of French onion soup but in a sandwich. Located on the north side of the TECO Expo Hall at the Sunshine Grilled Cheese Concessions stand.

Apple Fries

Apple Fries are a delicious treat that taste like crispy mini apple pies. Festival goers have the option of having them with caramel, whipped cream, ice cream and even bacon! As a bonus, apple fries are vegan and gluten friendly, so those with these types of dietary restrictions can enjoy these treats as well. Located under the GT grandstands at the Happy Dough Cookie Company.

Deep-Fried Tacos

A traditional taco with all the fixings and a deep-fried twist. Located on North Edwards Street at Deep Fried Tacos.

Chocolate Strawberry Elephant Ear

A sweet strawberry flavored dough is flattened through a sheeter and deep fried. Then it is topped with a thin layer of liquid butter and powdered sugar. Topped with fresh-cut strawberries and a heaping mound of homemade cream cheese icing. Located at Best Around Concessions near Smithfield Strawberry Tent.

Deep Fried Ravioli Kabob

Spaghetti Eddies has created an Italian classic to go. Served with a side of marinara. Located near the Stingray Chevrolet Tent.


New Events Announced for the 2020 Florida Strawberry Festival

K9s In Flight

K9s in Flight breaks the mold from the average dog show with their one of a kind “homeless to high flying” canine sports show. K9s in Flight showcases amazing dogs in the coolest of canine sports – all in one show. You’ll see the world’s top frisbee dogs, big air high jump and the highflying, dock-diving dogs all combined in one action packed show. See them performing daily next to the Badcock Media Center.

The Belmont Magic Show

The award-winning Belmont Magic Show offers mirth, magic and spectacular surprises. With state-of-the-art illusions, live animals, colorful costumes and lots of audience participation, the Belmont Magic show is fast-moving entertainment for all ages. See them performing daily near the Milton E. Hull Building.

Flippenout

Flippenout utilizes North America’s top trampoline artists. Olympic-type routines, skis, snowboards, and, of course, tons of comedy are all part of the fun and action. Flippenout’s world records and crowd interaction make the show highly entertaining for everyone. The louder you cheer, the higher they will go. See them performing daily next to the Life Storage Carriage House.

Vocal Trash

One man’s trash is another man’s treasure! Come see this outrageous group of performers as they rock out using household items to make music. Their creative choreography, acapella sound, and “trash talk” emphasize a message of reduce, reuse, and recycle. See them performing daily in the Publix Showcase tent.

Publix Aprons Cooking Show

Guests will have a front row seat to watch as a Publix Aprons chef makes delicious dishes and shares valuable cooking techniques to use in the kitchen. Experience the Publix Aprons Cooking Show class in person on Sunday, March 1 at 6 p.m. in the Publix Showcase tent.

Dark Horse Music Show

Your favorite supplier of all things music is proud to present the Dark Horse Music Show, performing some of their favorite covers and original songs to highlight Plant City-grown artists. Come join them for a celebration of talent and music on Saturday, March 7 at 6 p.m. in the Publix Showcase tent.

The Stephanie Ann Show

Born and raised in Brandon, Florida, Stephanie Ann began singing at a very early age. She began playing the violin and got hooked on the classics playing Bach, Mozart and Beethoven. Stephanie Ann performed with such artists as Tony Bennett, Dionne Warwick, Smokey Robinson and Marvin Hamlisch, as well as toured all over the country and played on the Grand Ole Opry with country music legend Bill Anderson. Her lyrics are reflective and her melodies make up a unique blend of pop, gospel, jazz and country music. Her music is universal, positive and can appeal to all ages. The Stephanie Ann show occurs daily in the Smithfield Strawberry tent.

Sahlen’s Hot Dogs Fun Zone

Sahlen’s Hot Dogs hales from Buffalo, New York. Sahlens will have a large space featuring live cooking demonstrations from their in-house chef which includes free product sampling, Publix retail coupons and branded giveaway items. Sahlens will also have a “fun zone” area featuring various sports accuracy and speed challenges.

Kid’s Coloring Corner

A new exclusive space provided for our most creative patrons, kids of all ages can enjoy coloring a mural-sized coloring page located in the New York Yankees Kiddie Korral, near the Neighborhood Village. The Kid’s Coloring Corner is open daily from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.

Peachey’s Youth Pretzel Making Clinic

On Tuesday, March 3 at noon and 2 p.m., all kids up to age 17 are invited to the Peachey’s Pretzel Making Clinic in the New York Yankees Kiddie Korral.

Deep-Fried Strawberry Pie on a Stick Relay

Come see teams of four compete in the first Deep-Fried Strawberry Pie on a Stick Relay. The relay begins at 2 p.m. on Thursday, Feb. 27 in the Stingray Chevrolet Entertainment tent.


Places to Stay

Bed and Breakfasts

Strawberry 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

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


Reserve lodging near Plant City on Hotels.com             (Sponsored)


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


Mountain biking trail at Alafia River State Park. (Photo: Bonnie Gross)
Mountain biking trail at Alafia River State Park. (Photo: Bonnie Gross)

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


meddard camp Rascal Flatts opens 11-day Florida Strawberry Festival on Feb 27
Edward Meddard Park. Photo by Bob Rountree.

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


Campsite at Lithia Springs Park near Tampa
Campsite at Lithia Springs Park near Tampa (Photo by Bob Rountree)

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 in Plant City

Parkesdale Farmers Market, Plant City
Parkesdale Farmers Market, Plant City

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
Fred’s Southern Kitchen

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 florida mammoth garden Rascal Flatts opens 11-day Florida Strawberry Festival on Feb 27
Dinosaur World Florida

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!

strawberrybasket Rascal Flatts opens 11-day Florida Strawberry Festival on Feb 27If 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. 

 

4 Comments

  1. Avatar
    Sylvia Hamby

    Do senior citizens get in free on any of the days?

    • Bob Rountree

      Seniors 60 or older get $2 off the gate admission of $10 on Thursdays, which are Senior Days.The first 250 Florida Blue Medicare Members to enter the Strawberry Festival on either Senior Day Thursday, February 27th or Thursday, March 5th will receive free entry compliments of Florida Blue. Show your Member ID card at the gate to receive free entry.

  2. 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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