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Berries promise tasty festival

Strawberries are coming in season and what better place to enjoy them than at the annual Floral City Strawberry Festival?

The festival runs from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday and Sunday at Floral City Park on U.S. 41 S, about 2 miles south of County Road 48.

More than 24,000 people attended last year's festival, ate 9,049 strawberry shortcakes, enjoyed 12 hours of free entertainment and bought 502 flats of strawberries to take home.

This year more than 120 booths will feature everything from arts and crafts to strawberry pies and shortcakes. The Chandler Berry, grown locally at Ferris Groves, is the berry of choice for this event and will be the only one served.

You can even buy strawberry plants to produce your own strawberry harvest. For those satiated by strawberries, homemade ice cream, barbecue, Greek food, candy apples and a plethora of other taste treats will please your palate.

The opening ceremonies on Saturday and Sunday will be performed by the Floral City American Legion. Antique cars will be displayed by the Citrus A's Model A Ford Antique Club from 11 a.m.-3 p.m. Saturday.

Root for your favorite media person at the Battle of the Media at 3 p.m. Saturday, but watch out for flying whipped cream.

At 1 p.m. on Saturday and Sunday, big eaters can enter the strawberry pie-eating contest. With four age levels, everyone can join the fun.

There will be children's games and contests at 10 a.m., noon, and 2 p.m. both days and also 4 p.m. Saturday. They will last 30 minutes. Pauline Sullo of the Citrus County Library Sytem Outreach program will put on a puppet show at noon and 4 p.m. Saturday. Pony rides will be available both days.

Local fire departments face off in a tug of war at 2 p.m. Sunday. The Little Miss Strawberry Princess Pageant will be at 3 p.m. and the Miss Strawberry Princess Pageant will be at 3:45 p.m. The pie-eating champion will be determined at the 4 p.m. pie eat-off.

Entertainment begins at 10:15 a.m. Saturday and continues throughout the day. The Citrus Community Band is featured at noon and the Chorus of the Highlands offers barbershop harmonies at 2:45 p.m. Big Band Jazz, gospel music, clogging and more round out the day.

Terri's Twirlers baton group opens the entertainment on Sunday at 12:30 p.m. and a steel band adds a touch of the Caribbean at 2:15 p.m.

Admission is $2 and parking is free. Trams will take visitors from parking areas to the activities site.

There are two entrances to the festival site. From the north, enter from E Floral Park Drive, which may be reached either from U.S. 41 or from Great Oaks Drive. People coming from the south will enter off U.S. 41 S. Sheriff's deputies will direct traffic. For information call 726-2801.