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Music lineup off the menu for Strawberry Festival

The stages that have hosted acts from Reba McEntire to John Legend will be quiet for 2021, but the festival will go on.

The Florida Strawberry Festival will return to Plant City this spring, but it won’t have the stellar music lineup that has become its signature feature.

Festival President Paul Davis posted a message on its Facebook page that after meeting with the Hillsborough County Health Department and other local and state officials, they decided to forgo headline entertainment, which earlier this year included sold-out shows by Rascal Flatts and Reba McEntire.

Mr. Berry, the mascot of the Florida Strawberry Festival, waves to the crowd in the Florida Strawberry Festival Grand Parade in 2012. With no booze, tobacco or other vices, the Plant City festival has been both a quaint piece of Americana and the second-most attended fair in the state.
Mr. Berry, the mascot of the Florida Strawberry Festival, waves to the crowd in the Florida Strawberry Festival Grand Parade in 2012. With no booze, tobacco or other vices, the Plant City festival has been both a quaint piece of Americana and the second-most attended fair in the state. [ Times (2012) ]

With no booze, tobacco or other vices, the Florida Strawberry Festival has been both a quaint piece of Americana and the second-most attended fair in the state. In the past decade, its stages have been graced by Taylor Swift, John Legend and Loretta Lynn, among dozens of other top names in a variety of genres.

It drew a record 562,327 visitors in 2019, outpacing the Florida State Fair and bigger metropolitan festivals, according to carnivalwarehouse.com, an industry web site that ranks fairs nationwide.

Related: How the Strawberry Festival used shrewd Southern charm to become Florida's second-largest fair

“This year, we believe it is in the best interest of everyone, guests and entertainers, to not have patrons sitting shoulder to shoulder for an extended period of time,” Davis wrote.

You can still gorge yourself on strawberry shortcake, because the festival will still go on March 4-14 for its 85th year. Organizers said they will be following guidelines and recommendations of public health officials “to ensure visitors to the 2021 festival can have a safe and fun experience with their families.”

The Oak Ridge Boys perform on the Wish Farms soundstage at the Florida Strawberry Festival in 21018. Organizers have decided to forego headlining entertainment next year "to not have patrons sitting shoulder to shoulder for an extended period of time.”
The Oak Ridge Boys perform on the Wish Farms soundstage at the Florida Strawberry Festival in 21018. Organizers have decided to forego headlining entertainment next year "to not have patrons sitting shoulder to shoulder for an extended period of time.” [ DA PRA, ALESSANDRA | Tampa Bay Times (2018) ]

“We realize this has been a difficult year for everyone and this change is not what any of us wanted,” Davis wrote, “but we all need something to look forward to, and we are more energized than ever to provide an outstanding event.”

Tickets are not yet on sale, but you can find more information about the festival at flstrawberryfestival.com.

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