PLANT CITY, Fla. - The annual Florida Strawberry Festival that celebrates the berry’s harvest in eastern Hillsborough County kicked-off Thursday, but like other events since the pandemic started, it will be a little different this year.
For starters, the big stage will be empty this time. There’s wont be any major concerts like they’ve had in years past. The 11-day festival typically hosts 24 concerts in its stadium.
While they won't have big-name entertainers, there will still be plenty of entertainment. From animals to arts and crafts, the Midway, and — of course —the star of the show: fresh Plant City strawberries in all sorts of delicious dishes.
Festival organizers said they planned to have a safer and smaller event to help curb the spread of the coronavirus. They even spent over $600,000 for touch-free bathrooms, sanitizer stations, air scrubbers, and other equipment.
"We’re excited with opening day," said festival board chairman Dub McGinnis. "There were quite a number of people coming in, so we’re excited."
Last year, around half a million people turned out. McGinnis says it’s anyone’s guess how many people will show up this year because of COVID-19.
Guests are "strongly advised" to wear masks on the festival grounds and masks will be mandatory in buildings and enclosed tents. Other COVID-19 safety protocols can be found here.
The festival normally draws 500,000 to 600,000 people each day, but organizers said they expect 50% to 70% of normal attendance this year.
The Florida Strawberry Festival will run from March 4 to March 14 in Plant City.
Admission and Hours:
Tickets are $10 for those who are 13 years of age and older. Admission for children between 6 to 12 is $5. Those under the age of 5 can enter the festival for free with paid adult admission.
Gates open at 10 a.m. and close at 10 p.m. every day.
The Midway hours are:
- Kiddie Korral: Daily from 10:00 a.m. – 10:00 p.m.
- Tuesday–Friday: 12:00 noon – 11:00 p.m. However, on Friday, March 12, the Midway will close just before 10 p.m. and will reopen from 10 p.m. to 2 a.m. for "Moonlight Magic."
- Weekends & Monday: 10:00 a.m. – 11:00 p.m.
Special days and discounts can be found here.
Festival guests can find parking on the Florida Strawberry Festival property in the Blue, Gray and Red parking lots, located on Ritter Street off of Highway 92 or Highway 574.
It will cost $5 for cars, pickup trucks and vans under 20 feet; $10 for vehicles between 20 feet to 39 feet; and $15 for vehicles or buses that are over 40 feet.
The T-Mobile tram will operate between the parking lots to the entry Gate 10 and Gate 14.
Parking is also available around the Festival grounds, such as the Bryan Elementary School track and Tomlin Middle School.
For more information on the Florida Strawberry Festival, click over to the event website.