Every Tuesday, the Places to Go, Things to Do segment highlights an event or location for gardeners and nature-lovers to enjoy in the Southeastern U.S. Know of an event or location you’d like to see featured here? Make your suggestions in the comments section below.
Places to Go, Things to Do:
Florida Strawberry Festival, March 3 – 13 2011
Over 100 years ago, farmers in central Florida decided to give strawberry growing a try. Despite a few setbacks, they were overwhelmingly successful, and today the Plant City area is the winter strawberry capital of the world. If you’re buying strawberries at the grocery store right now, there’s a good chance they’re coming from Florida.
What makes central Florida such a great location for growing strawberries? According to the University of Florida IFAS Extension:
Temperatures between 50 and 80°F and day lengths 14 hours or fewer are required for the development of flowers and fruit on most strawberry varieties. In the U.S., these conditions occur only for a short period in late summer or early fall, and again briefly in spring. In peninsular Florida, however, this combination of day length and temperature exists for much of the fall, winter and spring.
In 1930, Plant City decided to celebrate its successes by establishing the annual Florida Strawberry Festival. Now recognized as one of the best festivals in the nation, the ten-day event draws strawberry lovers from around the world to enjoy concerts, contests, fair rides, livestock exhibitions, and the popular Neighborhood Village, dedicated to homemade and handcrafted items created by locals in the community. Think of the event as a strawberry-flavored county fair.
For many, the highlight of the festival is gorging on some of the best strawberry shortcake in the world (OK, that’s a judgment call, but I’ve had it, and it’s amazing!), along with chocolate-dipped strawberries, strawberry jam, ice cream, milk shakes, cookies… well, you get the idea. The Strawberry Production Exhibit uses historic artifacts to show how strawberries have been grown from early days up to the present. Vendors are on hand offering strawberry-themed arts and crafts along with locally grown strawberries and strawberry plants, so you can take a piece of the berry goodness home with you.
If You Go:
For complete details on the festival, visit the Florida Strawberry Festival site.
- The festival is held March 3 – 13, 2011 and is open daily from 10:00 am to 10:00 pm. Click here for Midway hours and special events.
- General admission is $10 for adults, $5 children ages 6-12, kids under 6 free. You can get discounted tickets at local Sweetbay Grocery Stores; click here for details.
- The festival takes place in Plant City, located between Tampa and Orlando just off I-4. Click here for driving directions.
- Festival Headline entertainment concert tickets, including Kenny Rogers and The Doobie Brothers, are available at additional cost. Click here for the Headline Concert Schedule.
Are you a fan of the Florida Strawberry Festival? Tell us about your experiences and offer tips for festival-goers in the comments section!