The Florida Strawberry Festival runs Thursday through March 9 with lots of free shows and top headliners. But the stars are the berries, and you can find them big, juicy and plentiful. There are also crafts, rides, livestock shows, pig races, parades a midway and lots of deep-fried wonders for the 10-day run.
Strawberry shortcake is the main attraction, with swift-moving assembly lines that yield a hefty portion. But you should also consider the strawberry milk shakes that defy straws because of the big chunks of berries dotted throughout. And of course you'll find jam, drinks, wine and even strawberry pizza. Before you leave you'll want to pick up those big flats of fruit on the way back to the car, and they tend to be even cheaper in the late afternoon.
Admission is $10 for adults, children ages 6-12 $5; under 6 free. (813) 752-9194. Visit the website for special days and discounts at flstrawberryfestival.com/about-us/special-days-discounts. The festival runs from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. daily until March 9 with concerts at 3:30 p.m. and 7:30 p.m. each day.
• Weekends are crowded, so go early or during the week if you can.
• Parking is vast, so go to the nearest information booth by the gate where you entered the grounds to pick up a map. Make note of the gate you enter and write it down or text yourself. You can make note of your parking location on the festival's free app. Search "Florida Strawberry Festival" in the iTunes app store.
• Cash is king. There are ATMs but they charge steep fees.
Sharon Kennedy Wynne, Times Staff Writer