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2018 Strawberry Festival Aims To Build New Memories

Florida Strawberry Festival Instagram
A renovated seating area for the GT Grandstands debuts this week at the Florida Strawberry Festival in Plant City.

Plant City’s annual Strawberry Festival returns this week with a renovated main soundstage and headliners from a variety of musical genres.

Starting Thursday, the Florida Strawberry Festival is back. This year's theme, according to Festival President Paul Davis, is “Building New Memories!”

The festival is expected to draw more than 500,000 people for its headline musical entertainment, midway rides, youth livestock shows and, of course, the famed strawberry shortcake.

Davis said a lot of work was done on the festival grounds to accommodate guests for the season, “with a strong emphasis on the construction of our new GT Grandstands seating area.”

The new seating is closer to the stage and can hold up to 9,200 people.

The project began late last March, with crews tearing out old concrete bleachers in order to add 2,000 seats in a wrap-around formation closer to the stage. The new upgrade also includes seat backs and sound enhancements.

According to The Ledger, “The sound goes right through the bleachers,” said Davis. “It doesn’t bounce back and echo. They’ve never done these at GT Grandstands before. We had a sound engineer come in and help them design these.”

Lauren McNair, spokeswoman for the Florida Strawberry Festival, said “This is our 83rd festival, we’ve been around since 1930 and we have tried for the last 83 years to have a mix of tradition as well as new things to offer our guests, we have 24 headliners, two a day.”

“Whether you are a foodie, adrenaline junkie, or you like animals, we have something for everybody," McNair added. “It is very much a family-friendly event so we don’t serve alcohol, all the shows you see are very clean and designed for families.”

In addition to the more than half a million expected attendees, 2,500 people from the local community volunteer to help put the event on.

Performers will include country stars Brad Paisley, Reba McEntire, Trace Adkins and Big & Rich featuring Cowboy Troy; legends like Jerry Lee Lewis and Earth, Wind and Fire; and the "I Love the 90s Tour" featuring Vanilla Ice, Salt-N-Pepa, and Tone Loc.
A full list of headline concerts can be found here.

Nicole Bambach is a WUSF Zimmerman School Digital News Reporter for the spring of 2018, she is also serving as a News Staff Writer at The Oracle since the fall of 2017.
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