PLANT CITY, FL — The Florida Strawberry Festival features agricultural displays, livestock shows, arts and crafts, local food and a huge carnival midway. But its entertainment line-up is what’s extraordinary year after year.
The 2023 festival runs 11 days — March 2-12 — with two headline shows each day.
In addition to headline acts, there will be free entertainment on multiple stages throughout the fairgrounds included in the price of admission.
Concert ticket for popular acts on the main Wish Farms Stage range in price from $20 to $55 — in addition to the cost of admission.
Multiple exhibits, a carnival midway and livestock shows are also part of this annual event, which began in 1930 and has been held every year except for a six-year break during World War II.
This year’s theme is “We Have a Winner!”
Florida Strawberry Festival concerts and entertainment:
Tickets go on sale December 8 at 8 a.m.
Links go to the artists’ web sites, where you can usually hear samples of their music. Tickets go on sale Thursday, December 8 at 8 a.m. (See below for details.)
Thursday, March 2
- 10:30 a.m. — Jimmy Sturr & His Orchestra (Polka) Free
- 3:30 p.m. — The Oak Ridge Boys (Country) $30
- 7:30 p.m. — Walker Hayes (Country) $40
Friday, March 3
Saturday, March 4
Sunday, March 5
Monday, March 6
Tuesday, March 7
- 3:30 p.m. — Roots & Boots featuring Aaron Tippn, Collin Raye and Sammy Kershaw. (Country) $35
- 7:30 p.m. — CeCe Winans (Gospel) $25
Wednesday, March 8
Thursday, March 9
- 10:30 a.m. — Bill Haley Jr. & the Comets (Classic Rock) Free
- 3:30 p.m. — Tommy James & The Shondels (Classic Rock) $35
- 7:30 p.m. — For King & Country, (Christian Pop) $40
Friday, March 10
Saturday, March 11
Sunday, March 12
- 3:30 p.m. — Country Gold Tour featuring Leroy Van Dyke, T.G. Sheppard, Mandy Barnett, T. Graham Brown. $35
- 7:30 p.m. — Lynard Skynyrd (Southern Rock) $60
Florida Strawberry Festival Tickets
Advance tickets for admission and for headline entertainment shows go on sale Thursday, Dec. 8, 2022 at 8 a.m. and can be purchased online at www.flstrawberryfestival.com, at the Amscot Main Ticket Office located at 2209 W. Oak Avenue in Plant City and by phone at 813-754-1996.
- In person: Main Ticket Office, 2209 W. Oak Avenue, Plant City
- By phone: Call 813-754-1996
- Online: Go to etix.com
Discount admission tickets will be available at Publix Supermarkets throughout Central Florida and the Tampa Bay area from February 3 through March 13.
Gate admission on the day of event is $10 for adults (age 13+) and $5 for children (age 6-12.)
Concert tickets are additional and range in price from $20-$55 per show, depending on the entertainer.
Book accommodations now on Hotels.com
Florida Strawberry Festival celebrates the harvest
Plant City is the agricultural hub of endless strawberry fields, an agricultural area where folks have been harvesting and packaging strawberries since the 19th Century.
Every year since 1930, residents show off their crops at harvest time with Florida’s largest agricultural festival, attracting more than a half-million people every year, rivaling any state fair in the country with its agricultural displays, livestock shows, arts and crafts, local food, music concerts and a bustling carnival midway.
Florida’s strawberry season begins in December and continues through late March. From there, harvests shift north with the weather, although Plant City’s packing plants are a year-around operation packing berries from around the country and even around the world.
HOT TIP — You will have ample opportunity to buy strawberries at bargain prices — a “flat” of 12 pints for as little as $12 at one of many roadside stands throughout Plant City. You can buy them at the festival, but it’s far more convenient to wait until after you leave the parking lot. 🙂
The Florida Strawberry Festival Midway
The electrifying Belle City Midway will dazzle you with lights, soaring rides, crazy games, forbidden food and plenty of action.
The Midway is open at 10 a.m. on Saturdays, Sundays and Mondays and at 12 noon Tuesday-Friday.
More than 80 rides, games, and attractions. All-day ride passes and other wristband special will be available on special days.
For more information, visit the festival’s Belle City Midway web page.
Where is the Florida Strawberry Festival?
The Florida Strawberry Festival is held in Plant City, the heart of Florida’s strawberry growing region, about 25 miles west of Tampa and 60 miles east of Orlando on Interstate 4.
From Tampa, Exit I-4 at Forbes Road (Exit 17), proceed south to Highwaty 574 (MLK Blvd.) then east to the Festival area.
From Orlando, Exit I-4 at Park Road (Exit 22), go south to Highway 92 (Baker St.), continue west, turn south bound on Alexander St. then west bound Reynolds St., leading you to the Festival grounds.
Strawberry Festival parking tips
Parking is $5 on the festival grounds and includes free tram service to the entrance gates. Parking is also offered at private lots, churches and nearby schools for $10-$15.
It pays to cruise around the festival site for parking, if traffic permits.
You will find plenty of official signage that will take you down side streets to good parking, so don’t be afraid to wander off the beaten path a little.
Try to get into one of the official lots, which have shuttles to the entrance gates.
On a busy day two years ago, we found $5 parking on the festival grounds in the Gray parking lot, even as long lines of cars clogged other entrances and many private parking lots were full.
HOT TIP — To get to our secret entrance to the Gray Lot, come into town from the east on U.S. 92 (West Baker Street) and turn right onto Seminole Lakes Blvd, which takes you through a nondescript residential neighborhood. In about a quarter mile, you’ll see the entrance. The only signs you’ll see are at the entrance gate. Once inside, park your car near the tram stop.
Camping at the Strawberry Festival
For inquiries about reserving a space in the Seminole Lake RV Lot, located immediately west of the Festival grounds, call the Festival office at 813-752-9194 ext. 233.
This campground is only open during the Festival. We saw the RVs from our parking lot. Sites appeared basic but suitable.
For RV Rentals or repairs, including on-site service, festival organizers recommend Mid-Florida RV at 813-494-8501 or at their location 6114 Lewis Ave., Gibsonton, FL 33534.
Camping near the Strawberry Festival
I’ve camped at both Hillsborough River State Park and Alafia River State Park in my RV, and both are very convenient for attending the Strawberry Festival. I did have to book them well in advance, about 5-6 months, and I aimed for weekdays.
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.
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.
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
Lithia Springs Park and Campground, 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.
A little further away but definitely worth considering if you can’t find anything closer is Colt Creek State Park. It’s a pretty drive that will take less than an hour.
Colt Creek State Park, 16000 State Road 471, Lakeland FL 33809. 29 miles from Plant City. Expansive 5,000-acre state park features natural Central Florida habitat with more than 15 miles of multi-use trails for hiking, bicycling and equestrians with access to two primitive, pack in/pack out camps on the Flatwoods Trail. There are 10 camp sites in the Equestrian Campground. $5/adult, $1/child. Call the ranger station, 863-815-6761, for more information. There are 6 tent sites and 27 RV sites with water and electric (30/50 amp) in the main campground. Sites are $24 plus $7 daily utility fee and $6.70 booking fee. Book online up to 11 months in advance.
More nearby camping:
- Best Camping Near Tampa: 9 Choice Campgrounds
- Woodsy cabins near Orlando
- 7 cool parks for camping near Disney
Things to do near Plant City
Pick your own strawberries!
Visit Plant City any time during the berry-picking season — January through April — and be immersed in the strawberry culture. (Blueberries are grown here, too, with the harvest’s peak in May.)
Although most commercial growers do not allow you to pick your own strawberries, a few family farms will. Readers recommend
Spivey Farms, 6101 South County Road 39, Plant City, FL 33567 (813) 650-8999 (Call for hours)
For more U-Pick Farms in Hillsborough County, check out pickyourown.org
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.
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. 1401 W. MLK Blvd., Plant City, FL 33563, (813) 752-7763
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Bed and Breakfasts in Plant City
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. Call (813) 759-0279 or book online.
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. Call 813-787-6068 or book online.
Notes from the editor:
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Bob Rountree is a beach bum, angler and camper who has explored Florida for decades. No adventure is complete without a scenic paddle trail or unpaved road to nowhere. Bob co-founded FloridaRambler.com with fellow journalist Bonnie Gross 12 years ago.