Make us your home page

Strawberry jam burger? That and more coming to Florida Strawberry Festival


It's time again to enjoy spring in Florida and the mountains of strawberries that come with it.

The Florida Strawberry Festival opens at 10 a.m. today and runs through March 9, offering an array of strawberry-themed foods, a midway and a jam-packed musical lineup.

Open daily from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m., the festival features concerts each day at 3:30 and 7:30 p.m.

Admission is $10 for adults, $5 for children ages 6 to 12, and free for children younger than 6. Concert tickets are extra.

What's new

This year's festival, featuring the theme "Florida's Best Family Recipe," boasts more free entertainment than any previous year. The five new acts include sibling musical groups, a comedy routine and a baboon show. "Wild about Monkeys" features baboon trainers in a performance mixed with education and humor. Those looking for country music can check out Redhead Express, four sisters who perform daily at 11 a.m., 2 p.m. and 5 p.m.

New hamburgers, peanut brittle and ice cream are available to delight festivalgoers this year. Carousel Foods is introducing the strawberry jam hamburger — a beef patty with strawberry jam, cream cheese and a strawberry — and the fried green tomato hamburger with fried pickles and lettuce, mayonnaise and mustard.

Those craving something sweeter can try the ambrosia strawberry peanut brittle or the strawberry sticky pig ice cream — a Florida Strawberry Festival exclusive that combines homemade strawberry ice cream with torched marshmallows, waffle pieces, fudge and candied bacon.

The festival is also introducing a new variety stage. The Paradise Grilling Systems Variety Stage features acts including Shannon Magrane from American Idol and Billy and the Soul Circus Cowboys.

The Neighborhood Village received an upgrade and is now housed in a 12,000-square-foot building. It features a horticulture show and competitions for quilts, baked goods, canned goods and other homemade items.

Traffic and parking

At an annual event that draws 500,000 visitors, traffic and parking can be stressful, to say the least. In hopes of alleviating parking shortages, the festival opened a new lot this year at N Woodrow Wilson and W Risk streets that has 200 spots.

Phil Waldron, traffic committee director for the festival, said the Thonotosassa exit off Interstate 4 is still a great exit for the festival, but backs up on busy days. He encouraged people, especially those coming from Tampa, to take the Branch Forbes Road exit south toward the back side of the festival.

"There's quite a bit of parking on the back side, and people from Tampa don't realize that," he said.

Those coming east from Lakeland can also use the parking in the back of the festival by taking the Alexander Street exit.

Waldron also encouraged people to arrive early and allow extra time for traffic and parking if they are attending concerts or the parade. Those who just want to grab a strawberry shortcake or hit the midway should consider going on days that don't have big concerts or events.


The festival features two concerts daily, at 3:30 p.m. and 7:30 p.m. Headliners this year include Rascal Flatts, the Band Perry and Boyz II Men. In a late change, Ronnie Milsap canceled his Friday afternoon show and will be replaced with singer BJ Thomas.

Tickets are sold separately from admission tickets.

People should arrive early on concert days to avoid traffic and parking delays.

Tickets can be bought online at

Canadian radio show

Canada Calling, the popular radio show for Canadians living in Florida and the southern United States, is broadcasting from the festival in honor of the show's 60th anniversary.

Prior Smith has been hosting the show for 37 years and will be right inside Gate 16 to talk with listeners. More than 3 million Canadians come to Florida each year, and many of them visit the festival, Smith said.

"You wouldn't believe the Canadian crowd that rolls through the festival each year," Smith said. "The first time I was there, it just blew me away. It's unique. We don't have anything like that here."

Canada Calling will be broadcasting Friday and Saturday from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.

More details

Credit cards are accepted at the admission gates, on the midway and at many vendors. ATMs are also available.

Visit for information on discount days for students, seniors and military members, and more information about scheduling and events.

Caitlin Johnston can be reached at or (813) 661-2443.

Getting there

The Florida Strawberry Festival draws big crowds — and heavy traffic on Interstate 4. There's no way to avoid it, but you can make it less stressful:

• Coming from Tampa, take the Branch Forbes Road exit south toward the back side of the festival.

• Coming from Lakeland, take the Alexander Street exit and also use parking toward the back of the festival.

Strawberry jam burger? That and more coming to Florida Strawberry Festival 02/26/14 [Last modified: Thursday, February 27, 2014 8:50pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. Here's what you need to know before you buy that Groupon vacation deal


    There are times in life that call for caution, for using that chunk of money in savings to renovate the bathroom because the bathroom is from 1974, and not in a cool way.

    ALI DOUGLASS   |   Special to the Times
  2. Brad Culpepper makes it to final 3 on Survivor, but jury picks Sarah

    The Feed

    UPDATE, WEDNESDAY NIGHT: Tampa's Brad Culpepper make it to the final 3 on Survivor, but jurors chose Sarah as the winner of the $1 million.

    Original report follows:

    "The Tables Have Turned" - Brad Culpepper, Tai Trang and Hali Ford on the fourth episode of SURVIVOR: Game Changers on the CBS Television Network. Photo: Jeffrey Neira/CBS Entertainment
  3. Pasco Events for May 26-June 1


    26 Friday

    Line dancing: 10 to 11 a.m. $3. CARES Rao Musunuru M.D. Enrichment Center, 12417 Clock Tower Parkway, Hudson. (727) 863-6868.

  4. Our 'Burning Love' for Kelly Preston couldn't save this 1987 movie


    The success of parody movies really took off in the '80s with classics like Airplane, Spaceballs and the Naked Gun series. With so many spoofs, many flew under the radar like Love At Stake, starring (growling noises) a young Kelly Preston. For Kelly and maybe even Doctor and the Medics we …

  5. Graco recalls car seats; webbing may not hold child in crash

    Public Safety

    Graco Children's Products is recalling more than 25,000 car seats because the harness webbing can break in a crash and may not keep children restrained.

    Graco has recalled eight different car seat models.