PLANT CITY, Fla. — It's about that time of year to celebrate everything about the strawberry. 🍓
From the fresh berries themselves to strawberry shortcake, strawberry jam, strawberry pie, and on and on, the 2021 Florida Strawberry Festival might just be the sweetest event in the Tampa Bay area.
And in the age of the coronavirus pandemic, it's so needed right now.
This year's festival runs from Thursday, March 4, through Sunday, March 14, in Plant City -- just set the GPS to 2209 W. Oak Ave.
It's all about celebrating local Florida agriculture! According to the festival site, the multi-day event began in 1930 when the Plant City Lions Club wished to celebrate the area's "bountiful" strawberry harvest. The festival has continued to this day, absent a six-year pause during and just after World War II.
What about that big harvest? If it were "bountiful" back then, it's massive now.
There were 10,000 acres of strawberries during the 2019-20 season, producing 25,000 to 30,000 pounds per acre, according to Hillsborough County.
Tickets and pricing
Gates open each day at 10 a.m., with the midway opening either at 10 a.m. or noon depending on the day. See the full schedule for details.
The admission cost at the gate is $10 for ages 13 and up, $5 for children 6-12 and children under 5 can get in for free with paid adult admission. Although group rates aren't available, there are many discounted days from senior citizens days, family day and free kids day.
You can save a couple of bucks and avoid paying at the gate by buying tickets at these participating Publix stores.
Attractions and events
🍓 Neighborhood Village: All the homemade and handcrafted items you could imagine. Here is where you can find everything from cake decorating, quilts, toys, costumes and so much more.
🍓 Kiddie Korral: This is separate from the bigger rides and has wider aisles to accommodate strollers.
The Florida Strawberry Festival is known for some big-name acts but this year, because of the pandemic, all headlining acts are canceled.
But there's still plenty of entertainment options included with the cost of admission, including livestock shows, contests, displays, exhibits and more.
But what about COVID?
The Florida Strawberry Festival has a complete list of everything you need to know about its efforts to limit the spread of the virus. One key item: It's strongly recommended people wear a mask on festival grounds, and a mask is required within buildings and enclosed tents.
Try keeping a 6-foot distance away from other people. If necessary, festival organizers say they will make capacity adjustments.
And if you feel sick, stay home.
"Your support is vital to these efforts. Your personal responsibility is what is allowing us to have this celebration that is important to our community and beloved by our loyal patrons. Please do your part in ensuring the safety of yourself and others by following the guidelines," the festival says on its website.
Parking and accessibility
Now that you’re ready to enjoy a berry good time, here are a few things that you will want to know before heading out to Plant City:
🍓 Parking is available on Florida Strawberry Festival property off Highway 92 or Highway 574. Vehicles under 20 feet cost $5, vehicles 20-39 feet cost $10 and vehicles/buses more than 40 feet are $15. There is a tram that runs daily from the parking lots to entry Gate 10 and 14.
🍓 Get the best directions depending on your route here.
🍓 The following items are not allowed into the festival: illegal drugs, firearms, alcoholic beverages, pets (service animals ONLY), selfie sticks, lasers and drones.
🍓 You may rent a wheelchair for $25 or motorized scooters for $60 all day. They are available to book first come, first serve online.
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