Make us your home page

Florida Blueberry Festival opens Friday, May 4

It’s here! The inaugural Florida Blueberry Festival begins today in downtown Brooksville.

EDMUND D. FOUNTAIN | Times (2005)

It’s here! The inaugural Florida Blueberry Festival begins today in downtown Brooksville.

BROOKSVILLE — Decades ago, Brooksville was known as the nation's "tangerine capital."

Starting today, it appears blueberries will take over as the city's calling card.

Two years ago, an ambitious committee began laying the groundwork for a signature street festival they hoped would raise Brooksville's profile by celebrating its connection to the berries grown throughout the region and shipped all over the country.

That vision becomes real today as the inaugural Florida Blueberry Festival kicks off with a parade at 6:30 p.m. That will be followed by a weekend's worth of everything blueberry to eat, concerts, art demonstrations, car and bike shows, vendor exhibits and children's activities that organizers expect to attract thousands of new visitors.

"I think we're ready for them," festival organizer Michael Heard said this week. "A lot of people have worked very hard to make this festival happen. I'm sure once it's here, people all over the community will be proud."

Indeed, while putting together the largest event of its type in recent city history, organizers have had to speculate on some aspects of the festival in the hopes of avoiding a logistical nightmare.

One of the major concerns has been traffic. About 14 blocks in and around downtown will be blocked off to traffic, and signs have been erected to guide drivers around detours and road closures.

Two weeks ago, state Department of Transportation officials approved a plan to close two state roads, Broad and Jefferson streets, starting about 6:30 p.m. today. As a result, traffic through the downtown area will be detoured using the State Road 50 truck route, Cobb Road and other routes around the city's perimeter.

Vehicles arriving to the festival will be directed to off-site parking at Brooksville Regional Hospital, 17240 Cortez Blvd.; Hernando County Fairgrounds, 6436 Broad St.; the county public works facility, 1525 E Jefferson St.; Hernando High School, 700 Bell Ave.; and Brooksville Elementary School, 885 N Broad St. Parking charges will range from $10 to $15 per car, and visitors will be taken to and from the festival site by shuttle.

Once inside, visitors will be free to stroll unimpeded throughout the festival grounds. And there will be plenty to see and do, Heard said.

"I think we've done a good job in planning for people who want to spend the day here," Heard said. "They're not going to get bored."

Among the highlights will be continuous music, including local and regional rock, country, blues, jazz, folk and rhythm and blues entertainers, who will perform on seven stages around the festival grounds.

Art will also be a major focus, with a plein air, or open air, painting exhibit, sidewalk art displays and an auction of specially created art picnic tables.

For the younger set, a kids zone will provide a host of activities from hot dog-eating contests to water games to face painting.

And of course, there will be blueberries everywhere, Heard said.

"Our biggest selling point is that (the festival) comes at a time of the year when people are buying, eating and thinking of blueberries," Heard said. "And when they take some home, hopefully they'll remember what a good time they had while they were here."

For detailed information on the Florida Blueberry Festival, visit

Logan Neill can be reached at (352) 848-1435 or

The Florida Blueberry Festival

Where: Downtown Brooksville.

When: The festival kicks off at 6:30 p.m today with a 130-entry parade, followed by a celebrity blueberry stomp and a rock concert by the Journey tribute band Never Stop Believin'. Events on Saturday and Sunday include a scenic bike ride; classic car, hot rod and custom bike shows; a hot dog-eating contest; sidewalk art demonstrations; a special Cinco de Mayo celebration; kids activities, and live music.

Admission: Admission to the festival is free, but parking is off site and will cost $10 to $15 per vehicle, with shuttle service available to and from the festival grounds.

Information: Call (352) 754-4173 or visit floridablueberry

Florida Blueberry Festival opens Friday, May 4 05/03/12 [Last modified: Thursday, May 3, 2012 10:21pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. FBI warns of spreading W-2 email theft scheme

    Personal Finance

    The IRS is warning businesses about a sharp increase in email phishing scams involving employees' W-2 forms — scams that can put staffers' Social Security numbers and other critical information in the hands of thieves.

    The IRS is warning businesses about a sharp increase in email phishing scams involving employees' W-2 forms.
[McClatchy DC/TNS file photo]
  2. Walmart expands grocery delivery service to Tampa


    TAMPA — Walmart is expanding its grocery delivery service to Tampa, the company announced Monday. Five locations will offer delivery for online grocery orders.

    Walmart is expanding its grocery delivery to Tampa, the company announced Monday. | [Times file photo]
  3. Marina at Hudson Beach poised to become 24-unit condominium-hotel


    HUDSON — One of the mainstay businesses at Hudson Beach is poised for redevelopment into a 24-unit condominium-hotel.

    The owners of Skeleton Key Marina in Hudson have filed preliminary plans with Pasco County to redevelop the site into a 24-unit condominium-hotel.
  4. Have your say Tampa Bay on the region's future transit options

    Mass Transit

    TAMPA — It's time, yet again, for Tampa Bay residents to tell officials what kind of transit options they want for their region.

    The Cross-Bay Ferry docks at the Tampa Convention Center on its maiden voyage on Nov. 1, 2016. A regional premium transit study will determine whether a ferry, or other options such as express buses or light rail, would be a good addition to Tampa Bay. [SCOTT KEELER  |  Times]
  5. SOCom seeks civilian drone pilots to develop new technology through ThunderDrone


    TAMPA — For the last three years, Nicole Abbett has been using drones as part of her photography business, with clients like the city of Tampa and construction companies.

    Josh Newby, 31, Palm Harbor, of Tampa Drones fly's a drone in England Brothers park, Pinellas Park, 8/25/16. As drone popularity increases as a hobby and business, local governments are navigating a legal grey area- where, when, and how should drone flights be allowed?