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A berry fun festival

You've probably heard plenty by now about the Strawberry Festival's top-notch country music lineup. But as always, there's lots more to the fair, and you can find out for yourself as the 59th Annual event takes place from 10 a.m.-midnight today through March 13 at the Hillsborough County Fairgrounds, 2406 W Reynolds St. (I-4 at exits 10 and 11), Plant City.

The festival, which opened Thursday, includes entertainment, a midway, arts and crafts, special events and _ lest we forget to mention _ plenty of strawberries.

The midway, which features the Mighty Bluegrass Show and a variety of rides, is open from noon to midnight Monday-Friday and from 10 a.m. to midnight Saturday-Sunday.

All headline acts perform at 4:30 and 7:30 p.m. Much like the recently ended Florida State Fair, 10,000 free first-come, first-served seats are available for the featured shows. An even more limited amount of reserved seats are available for $4 and $8.

Daily entertainment includes the Southern Star Bluegrass Band, the Grampa Cratchet Puppet Show, Dennis Lee, Robinson's Racing Pigs, the Robinson Family, the Cheyenne Stampede, Willie and Company, the Neighborhood Village Demonstration Kitchen, and Kachunga and the Alligator Show.

Other entertainment includes Susan McCann (today and Sunday through March 13), The Reppies in Concert (costumed characters, through Tuesday), Jim Miller and the Jimmy Dorsey Orchestra (Thursday), Warren Bills (Thursday) and Jack Harris (Monday through March 11). Harris will tape his Harris and Company show at the festival from 12:30-1 p.m. each day.

The festival's annual parade begins at 1 p.m. Monday in downtown Plant City and travels into the festival grounds. The parade will pass the festival's stadium reviewing stand at 2 p.m.

A special sand sculpture highlighting the festival's "Excitement is in the Air" theme will be on display during the festival's final three days.

Festival admission is $5, free to children ages 10 and under.

Special Days on the midway include: Moonlight Magic 11 p.m.-3 a.m. today and March 11, and Ride-a-Thon Days noon-11 p.m. Tuesday-Thursday. During Moonlight Magic, fairgoers receive unlimited use of the festival's mechanical rides for $12. During Ride-a-Thon hours, those purchasing a special $10 armband receive unlimited use of the mechanical rides.

Discount festival entry is available for children through high school age from 10 a.m.-4 p.m. Saturday on Kid's Day. Discount admission ($1 off) is available to seniors on Thursday.

For information, call 891-0272, 754-1996 or 754-2190.