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Arts / Culture

The Florida Strawberry Festival Is Happening in 2021. Here's What It Will Look Like

A strawberry patch lies within the middle of The Florida Strawberry Festival as visitors walk by and admire the growing fruit.
Thomas Iacobucci
/
WUSF Public Media
Strawberries at a past Florida Strawberry Festival.

There may not be the big music names, but the festival will still have live music, food vendors, and plenty of activities.

While the Florida Strawberry Festival will not have the headliner music acts of years past, festival-goers can still expect to hear live music, taste creative culinary feats, and fly through the air on the festival's 35 major rides.

From March 4-14, the annual festival will celebrate Florida’s strawberry harvest while attempting to remain COVID-19 safe by following CDC, state, and local guidelines. While the festival will not have the headliner musicians it has had in the past to reduce COVID-19 risks, the Plant City festival will still have plenty for festival-goers to do.

Entry into the festival costs $10 for those 13 and up, $5 for children 6-12, and is free for children 5 and under with a paid adult.

The gates are open from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. daily. Festival-goers can purchase admission at a discounted rate at participating Publix for $8 for those 13 and up and $4 for children 6-12.

The Belle City Midway, which boasts more than 80 rides, games and attractions, opens at noon and closes at 11 p.m., except for on Saturdays, Sundays, and Monday when it opens at 10 a.m. The Kiddie Koral opens at 10 a.m. and is separate from the major rides with child-size attractions. Festival-goers can pay for tickets to go on the rides or purchase a wristband to go on all of the rides. The cost of the wristbands varies from day to day.

For less adrenaline-fueled fun, the Neighborhood Village is open daily from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m.to showcase award-winning homemade and handcrafted items by community members. With both a youth and adult section, the entries are created or prepared by Florida residents, judged and then given monetary prizes and ribbons in their categories. The 11 categories are cake decorating, wearing apparel and accessories, food preservation, home decoration items, jewelry and beading, knitting/crocheting/tatting, needlepoint and needlework, quilts, scrapbooking, toys and porcelain dolls, and baking. The Strawberry Queen exhibit will also be in the Neighborhood Village and open from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m.

For those more interested in going to exhibitions, there are plenty that are open daily in the Roy and Helen Parks Building, the Milton E. Hull Armory Building, and Pioneer Village.

There will also be daily performances across the fairgrounds by acts including:

  • Scott’s World of Magic Show
  • Circus Incredible
  • Robinson’s Racing Pigs
  • Born Lonesome
  • Mike Walker

Breakdown of Festival Events and Promotions by Day

Thursday, March 4

It is Humana Senior Citizens Day, so patrons 60 years and older get $2 off their entry ticket and are able to enter to win a prize which is drawn at 11:45 a.m. at the Wish Farms Variety Stage. It is also an O'Reilly Ride-a-Thon Day, so festival-goers can pay $20 for a wristband to go on most rides, and they can get $3 off if they show a voucher from O’Reilly Auto Parts.

EVENT HIGHLIGHTS:

  • 10:30 a.m: Don Juceam, also known as Florida’s Frank Sinatra, will perform at Wish Farms Variety Stage.
  • 2 p.m.: The second annual Deep Fried Strawberry Pie On A Stick Relay will happen at Stingray Chevrolet Entertainment Tent.
  • 6 p.m.: Electric Woodshed, an 80s inspired band, will perform at 6 p.m. at Entenmann’s Showcase tent.
  • 6 p.m.: What Remains, a Christian musical group, will lead worship at the Wish Farms Variety stage.
  • 7 p.m.: Mosaic Youth swine show will take place at Patterson Co. Livestock arena.

Friday, March 5

It is a Food and Fun Friday so festival-goers can present any nonperishable item and receive a McDonald's coupon for a free strawberry shake with any purchase of a large sandwich and medium fry. When leaving the festival grounds, attendants will receive a McDonald’s coupon for free four-piece McNuggets with the purchase of any size drink and fry.

EVENT HIGHLIGHTS:

  • 12 p.m.: Amish Donut Eating Contest will occur at Stingray Chevrolet Entertainment tent.
  • 1 p.m.: Dairy Contestant Judging will take place in the Patterson Co. Livestock area.
  • 6 p.m.: Pastor Calvin “Pee Wee” Callins will be at Entenmann's Showcase tent.
  • 6 p.m.: SouthBound, a classic southern rock band, will perform at 6 p.m. on the Wish Farms Variety stage.
  • 7 p.m.: Mosaic Youth Swine sale will occur at Patterson Co. Livestock Area.

Saturday, March 6

Tickets are free for children ages six to 12. Any wristbands purchased at the Midway will be $30 and will allow the wearer to ride most of the mechanical rides.

EVENT HIGHLIGHTS:

  • 11 a.m.: Dairy Showmanship Show will be at Patterson Co. Livestock Area.
  • 1 p.m.: Dairy Show will be at Patterson Co. Livestock arena.
  • 1:30 p.m.: Registration for Youth Strawberry Stemming Contest will open at Stingray Chevrolet Entertainment Tent.
  • 2 p.m.: Youth Strawberry Stemming Contest, where children of all ages can compete to see who can remove the stems from 20 berries the fastest at Stingray Chevrolet Entertainment tent.
  • 6 p.m.: Sick Hot, a young vintage rock band, will perform on the Wish Farms Variety Stage.
  • 6 p.m.: The Florida Strawberry Festival Talent Show will happen at Entenmann’s Showcase tent. The winner will receive a $500 prize and a 12-month performance contract from Dark Horse music store.

Sunday, March 7

It is Family Day, so festival-goers who present any empty Coca-Cola brand product will get $5 off the entry gate fee or get a $5 voucher off the $25 wristband. Only one can per person.

EVENT HIGHLIGHTS:

  • 9-10 a.m.: Registration for the baby contest opens at the Admin office. (Hillsborough County babies only.)
  • 10:30-12:30 a.m.: Baby Contest will be held in Entenmann’s Showcase Tent.
  • 11 a.m.: Dairy Showmanship for adults will be at the Patterson Co. Livestock Arena.
  • 11:30 a.m.: Dairy Pee Wee Showmanship will be in the Patterson Co. Livestock Arena.
  • 12:30 a.m.: Dairy Costume Ball will be at Patterson Co. Livestock Arena.
  • 2 p.m.: Youth Plant sale will be at Patterson Co. Livestock Area.
  • 6 p.m.: The Detectives, a local reggae band, will perform in Entenmann’s Showcase tent
  • 6 p.m.: “Ace” Jackson and The Jump Kings will perform at Wish Farms Variety Stag.

Monday, March 8

It is a Ride-a-Thon Day, so festival-goers can purchase their wristbands for the rides for $20.

EVENT HIGHLIGHTS:

  • 1:30 p.m.: Registration begins for the Strawberry Spaghetti Eating Contest at Stingray Chevrolet Entertainment tent.
  • 2 p.m.: The parade begins downtown and heads north through downtown Plant City and west toward the festival grounds around 2 p.m.
  • 2:30 p.m.: The parade hits the festival grounds.
  • 5 p.m.: Strawberry Spaghetti Eating Contest happens at Stingray Chevrolet Entertainment tent. Competitors are challenged to eat one bowl of spaghetti topped with a strawberry.
  • 6 p.m.: Bound No More, a Christian band, performs at Entenmann’s Showcase tent.
  • 7 p.m.: Lamb costume Contest will happen at Patterson Co. Livestock arena.

Tuesday, March 9

All kids up to age 17 are admitted free with a paid adult and festival-goers can pay $2 for any single ride and most rides with a $20 wristband.

EVENTS HIGHLIGHTS:

  • 2 p.m.: Adult Strawberry stemming contest will be held at Stingray Chevrolet Entertainment tent.
  • 6 p.m.; Joe’s Garage Band will perform at Entenmann’s Showcase tent.
  • 6 p.m.: HeanonMusic will perform on Wish Farms Variety Stage.

Wednesday, March 10

All active, reserve and retired military and military veterans, law enforcement and first responders will get in for free. Ride-a-thon is also happening, so wristbands are $20.

EVENTS HIGHLIGHTS:

  • 1 p.m.: Super dog mega corn dog eating contest will be held at Stingray Chevrolet Entertainment tent.
  • 6 p.m.: Mosaic Youth Steer Show will be hosted at Patterson Co. Livestock Arena.
  • 6 p.m.: Oxford Noland, the indie rock band, will perform at the Wish Variety Stage.

Thursday, March 11

It is a Humana Senior Citizens day, so patrons 60 years and older get $2 off their entry ticket and are able to enter to win a prize which is drawn at 11:45 a.m. at the Wish Farms Variety Stage. It is also an O'Reilly Ride-a-Thon Day, so festival-goers can pay $20 for a wristband to go on most rides, and they can get $3 off if they show a voucher from O’Reilly Auto Parts.

EVENTS HIGHLIGHTS:

  • 10:30 p.m.: Jimmy Mazz will perform at the Wish Variety Stage.
  • 2 p.m.: A strawberry shortcake eating contest will take place at Stingray Chevrolet Entertainment tent. Festival-goers can compete to see who can eat 4 pounds of strawberry shortcake in 10 minutes. Once the competitors hit the 8-minute mark, their spoons are taken away. The winner is awarded a trophy with a pig on top.
  • 7 p.m.: The Mosaic Youth Steer Showmanship will occur at Patterson Co. Livestock Arena.

Friday, March 12

Festival-goers can present a coupon from The Tampa Bay Times to receive $5 off the $20 Fun Pack Ride Coupon Book from noon to 10 p.m. The coupons will available in the Tampa Bay Times or on their website on Mar. 7 and 12. Coupons must be printed in hardcopy. It is also Moonlight Magic night, so the rides will be open from 10 p.m. to 2 a.m.

EVENTS HIGHLIGHTS:

  • 3 p.m.: Strawberry Mashed Potato Pie Eating Contest will occur at Stingray Chevrolet Entertainment tent. Competitors are challenged with eating one plate of garlic mashed potatoes topped with strawberry glaze and a fresh strawberry in under 10 minutes.
  • 6 p.m.: Beef Breed Showmanship will occur at Patterson Co. Livestock Arena.
  • 6 p.m.: The Descendants, a Christian band, will perform at the Wish Farms Variety stage.

Saturday, March 13

It is Farmworker Appreciation Day, so farmworkers receive free admission to the festival with a voucher from Astin Farms. Festival-goers can also purchase a Super Saturday wristband for $30 to go on most of the rides.

EVENT HIGHLIGHTS:

  • 6 p.m.: Florida Strawberry Festival Talent show will take place at Entenmann’s Showcase tent. The winner will receive a $500 prize and a 12-month performance contract from Dark Horse music store.
  • 6 p.m.: Unpainted Souls musical group will perform on the Wish Farms Variety Stage.
  • 7 p.m.: Mosaic Youth Steer Sale will happen at Patterson Co. Livestock arena.

Sunday, March 14

It is a family day, so if festival-goers who present any empty Coca-Cola brand can or plastic bottle will receive $5 off the $25 wristband for the ride all day. One can per person. There is no promotion for gate admission.

EVENTS HIGHLIGHTS:

  • 1 p.m.: Kitchen Craft Cookware Drawing will happen at Neighborhood Village.
  • 2 p.m.: Pulaski Vacation getaway drawing will happen at Teco Expo hall.
  • 6 p.m.: The Detectives, a reggae band, will perform at Entenmann’s Showcase tent.
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