Make us your home page

5 concert picks for Florida Strawberry Festival

No offense to all the fests and fairs sprouting up in the Tampa Bay area this spring, but nothing makes me feel as proud to be a Sunshine Stater as slamming my maw into shortcake at the Florida Strawberry Festival. I love the whole dusty, down-home Plant City tradition. I also highly recommend catching a show while you're there; last year I was front row for Hank Jr., which was insane and dumb and really darn fun. I understand there's high demand on your music dollar, especially this time of year when every weekend seems to bring a big act to town. So here are my top five Strawberry Fest picks. Alas, all dudes — with the exception of Martina McBride on Tuesday, there aren't a whole lot of major female acts playing here. Ticket prices for reserved seats in parentheses are in addition to festival admission.

1. ALAN JACKSON, Sunday at 7:30 p.m. ($45) AJ is like the Abe Lincoln of country music. He's an elder statesman (57 Top 40 singles!) revered by traditionalists and newbies alike — plus he looks really great in a hat. Daniel Day-Lewis should start practicing Don't Rock the Jukebox, Chattahoochee and It's Five O'Clock Somewhere in the shower.

2. DWIGHT YOAKAM, Monday at 7:30 p.m. ($20-$25) One of my favorites, this low-hatted practitioner of the Bakersfield Sound has always stayed true to his outlaw creative ways, a reason, perhaps, he has never reached the upper-echelon of country stardom. Nevertheless, expect an epic show delivered at a breakneck pace, with such songs as Guitars, Cadillacs and Fast as You (plus covers of Cheap Trick and Elvis) coming at you fast, loud and twangy.

3. SCOTTY MCCREERY, March 8 at 7:30 p.m. ($25-$30) My American Idol-watching days are long behind me (sorry, Nicki); I ducked out back when people still knew who Taylor "Soul Patrol" Hicks was. But I caught a YouTube snippet of Season 10 champ McCreery's The Trouble With Girls video the other day and I was impressed. He looks like Mad magazine's Alfred E. Neuman but sounds like George Strait's tougher brother. Be interesting to see if he has the star power to carry a stage for 90 minutes.

4. HUNTER HAYES, March 10 at 3:30 p.m. ($15-$20) Nominated for best new artist at the 2013 Grammys (he lost to Fun.), the 21-year-old star from Breaux Bridge, La., has a massive hit with Wanted, which he co-wrote with Troy Verges. Hayes has serious chops plus he looks like a Disney Channel prince. Usually I'd be enraged with jealousy by someone like that, but I like this kid. This is a nice get, and it's especially cool that he's here the same day as ...

5. BLAKE SHELTON, March 10 at 7:30 p.m. ($55) I'm always impressed with the bookers at the Strawberry Festival who rely on tradition and savvy to lure major country acts to Plant City. This year's lineup pales a bit compared to years past, but you certainly can't question the headliner: Mr. Miranda Lambert is one of the biggest stars around these days, scoring hit TV shows (The Voice) and hit songs, his 2011 album Red River Blue still shooting out hot tracks. I've seen Shelton live, opening for Brad Paisley, and he was an all-around showman and a total blast. Fifty-five bucks is a new record for a concert ticket here, but he's worth it. Can't wait to see him again. But reserved seats are sold out, which means you'll have to take your chances with the 3,000 free grandstand seats that are first-come, first-served for each show. Be prepared to wait in line.

Sean Daly can be reached at Follow @seandalypoplife on Twitter.

Strawberry Festival music

at a glance

Festival admission required for concerts.

Today: Chubby Checker 3:30 p.m. ($15-$20); Foreigner 7:30 p.m. ($25)

Friday: Casting Crowns 7:30 p.m. ($20-$25); Gene Watson 3:30 p.m. ($15-$20)

Saturday: Justin Moore 7:30 p.m. ($15-$20); Gloriana 3:30 p.m. ($15-$20)

Sunday: Alan Jackson 7:30 p.m. ($45); Randy Houser 3:30 p.m. ($15-$20)

Monday: Dwight Yoakam 7:30 p.m. ($20-$25); Lorrie Morgan and Pam Tillis 3:30 p.m. ($15-$20)

Tuesday: Martina McBride 7:30 p.m. ($30); Bobby Vinton 3:30 p.m. ($15-$20)

Wednesday: Trace Adkins 7:30 p.m. ($30); Neal McCoy 3:30 p.m. ($15-$20)

5 concert picks for Florida Strawberry Festival 02/27/13 [Last modified: Wednesday, February 27, 2013 11:10am]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. Plan your weekend: June 30-July 2: Vans Warped Tour, fireworks, corgi races, Guardian Con, Dan TDM


    Plan your weekend

    Vans Warped Tour: The shirtless and inked-up masses will once again descend upon St. Petersburg's Vinoy Park on Saturday to mosh and thrash to dozens of bands across seven stages. This year brings the likes of Gwar, thrash group Municipal Waste, Southern metal band Valient …

    Corgi in the grass; Dog playing the the grass;
  2. Author Randy Wayne White could open St. Pete's biggest restaurant on the pier

    Food & Dining

    ST. PETERSBURG — The story begins with Yucatan shrimp.

    St. Petersburg Deputy Mayor Kanika Tomalin, pilot Mark Futch, Boca Grande, St. Petersburg Mayor Rick Kriseman, and author and businessman Randy Wayne White,  Sanibel, exit a Maule Super Rocket seaplane after taking a fight around Tampa Bay off the St. Petersburg waterfront, 6/28/17.  White and his business partners are in negotiations with the City of St. Petersburg to build a fourth Doc Ford's Rum Bar & Grille on the approach to the St. Petersburg Pier with a second event space on the pier according to White. The group met near Spa Beach after a ground breaking ceremony for the new pier. "We want to have our business open by the time the pier opens," said White. Other Dr. Ford restaurants are located on Sanibel, Captiva and Ft. Myers Beach. SCOTT KEELER   |   Times
  3. Fourth of July celebrations firing off all around Hillsborough


    Apollo Beach

    Food Truck Festival celebrates fourth

  4. Channelside, downtown sight of holiday festivities


    CHANNEL DISTRICT — The City of Tampa's largest Independence Day celebration, Light Up Tampa Bay, returns to Channelside Plaza on Tuesday with fireworks, live music, entertainment, face painting and food trucks.

    Fireworks explode over Channelside during last year’s July 4th celebration.
  5. YouTube's Minecraft sensation Dan TDM brings live show to Clearwater


    Dan Middleton's YouTube channel has had more than 10 billion views since 2012.

    Dan Middleton's Dan TDM live tour is set to stop in Clearwater on Sunday. [Photo by Emily Herogian]