Top Eats, Concerts and More at the Florida Strawberry Festival

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For a true celebration of strawberries, there’s no better event than the 88th Annual Florida Strawberry Festival. Taking place in Plant City, just 30 minutes from Tampa, this annual fair combines every strawberry treat imaginable with everything you love about state and county fairs. This year’s festival kicks off March 2, 2023 and continues through March 12, 2023.

Stroll the festival grounds as you savor the flavors of the season – strawberry shortcake, milkshakes, tacos, donuts, strawberry pizza, jam, and more. In between indulgences, hang out at the Midway or watch entertaining shows.

Cap it all off with an evening concert from big names like Willie Nelson & Family, Ludacris, Lynyrd Skynyrd and Chris Young.
Tickets for headliners are on sale NOW!

Read on for all of the juicy details!

Florida Strawberry Festival Basics

Whether this will be your first visit or your 50th, a trip to the Florida Strawberry Festival is always enhanced with a little pre-planning.

First things first, you’ll need tickets in order to enter the festival grounds. While you can purchase admission at the gate, it’s cheaper to visit your local Publix store in advance for discounted tickets. Participating stores sell admission tickets for $8 (for reference, tickets are $10 at the gate) so grab some on your next grocery run.

Tickets for kids are $4 in advance, or $5 at the gate (ages 6 – 12). Kids under 5 are free with paid adult admission.

The festival is open daily 10am to 10pm. The midway is open noon to 11 p.m Tuesday – Friday, and 10am to 11pm Saturday, Sunday and Monday. The Kiddie Korral is open daily from 10am to 6pm.

When to Visit

This festival draws quite a crowd each year. As such, parking can be chaotic, especially on weekends. There are designated parking lots near the entrance, but they tend to fill up quickly. When in doubt, you can always find ample parking outside of the festival if you don’t mind a bit of a walk.

If you have the flexibility, visit on a weekday. The crowds are much lower, parking is easier to find, and it’s generally a more low-key festival experience.

Inform yourself before your visit about special discounts and themed days at the festival. For example, Friday March 10 is a Moonlight Magic night, with a special deal allowing you to ride most of the Midway rides for $30 from 10pm-2am. Looking for a day with potentially less kids around? Then you might want to avoid kid-centric days. In the past there have been designated family days and free admission for kids. We’ll update with those dates when they’re released in January.

Fresh flats of strawberries at the Florida Strawberry Festival
Flats of fresh strawberries at the Florida Strawberry Festival

Best Food at the Florida Strawberry Festival

Finding incredible strawberry-themed food at the Florida Strawberry Festival can require a bit of sleuthing. While some items, like strawberry shortcake, are easy to locate, other items are hiding in plain sight at various food stands throughout the festival grounds.

We’ve outlined some of our personal favorite foodie finds below, but make sure to also peruse Strawberry Central — this is the festival’s online hub for all things strawberries at the festival, from food to products and contests.

Where to Find Strawberry Shortcake

Whatever you do, do not leave the festival without getting strawberry shortcake. In fact, it’s worth attending the festival just for the shortcake.

There are three unique booths offering strawberry shortcake at the festival. Typically, you’ll have your choice between shortcake or a biscuit–try both to decide on a favorite!

Strawberry Shortcake at the Florida Strawberry Festival
Strawberry Shortcake at the Florida Strawberry Festival

There’s no bad shortcake. But my favorite booth is the St. Clements because it is a DIY-style booth. Meaning, you get to pile your bowl as high as you’d like with strawberries and whipped cream.

Strawberry shortcake booth locations for 2023 are as follows:

  • St. Clements “Make Your Own” Shortcake Booth – In the middle of the Parke Exhibit Building, next to the Parkesdale Farms booth
  • Transforming Life Church – Inside the Entenmann’s Strawberry Tent
  • East Historical Society Shortcake Booth – South of the TECO Expo Hall

 

More Strawberry Treats and Top Eats

Besides shortcake, there are tons of specialty food items to discover throughout the festival grounds. Here are a few of our favorites:

  • Strawberry Milkshake from Polar Bear Ice Cream – This booth always has over-the-top milkshakes that are pricey but delicious and totally Insta-worthy
  • Strawberry Brisket Taco from Johnsons Barbeque – Great to try if you’re looking for something totally unique and savory
  • Donuts from Peachey’s Baking Co — Unreal Amish donuts! You can even get “The Sweetheart” – a donut topped with hot fudge, whipped cream, and Plant City strawberries
  • Chocolate Dipped Strawberries from Chocolate Strawberry Express — Perfect for a bite-sized indulgence
  • Strawberry Pizza from Brandon Farms — This dessert-style pizza features a graham cracker crust, cream cheese, strawberry glaze, and fresh strawberries
  • Strawberry Dole Whip — Find this sweet treat near the Stingray Tent
  • Corn Dog from Smitty’s — It’s all about the buttermilk batter; if you’re a corn dog connoisseur, this spot won’t let you down
Strawberry Milkshake from Polar Bear Ice Cream

Where to Find and Buy Flats of Fresh Strawberries

Before leaving the Florida Strawberry Festival, I always grab a flat of fresh strawberries to take home with me.

Within the festival, you can purchase fresh strawberries from Parkesdale Farms (South side of Parke Exhibit Building) and Wish Farms (Northeast corner of Parke Exhibit Building and just outside Gate 1/ Amscot Main Ticket Gate).

It’s worth noting that there are usually farmers selling fresh strawberries outside of the festival as well, typically just outside the entrance. Purchasing fresh picked strawberries after the festival is a great option if you weren’t able to make time to pick your own strawberries this season.

Strawberry Brisket Taco from Johnsons Barbeque

Florida Strawberry Festival Concert 2023 Lineup

One of the major perks of attending the Florida Strawberry Festival is the headline entertainment each year. Big names (especially in country) make their way to the stage each year to cap off each day’s festivities with live music.

Concerts range in price from $25 – $60. Two free concerts will be held, the first on Thursday, March 2 at 10:30am, and the second on Thursday, March 9 at 10:30am.

Here’s the concert lineup for 2023:

  • Jimmy Sturr & His Orchestra – March 2, 10:30am, FREE with paid gate admission
  • The Oak Ridge Boys Front Porch Singin’ Tour – March 2, 7330pm, $30
  • Walker Hayes – March 2, 7:30pm, $40
  • Willie Nelson & Family – March 3, 3:30pm, $50
  • Halestorm – March 3, 7:30pm $45
  • Sara Evans – March 4, 3:30pm, $35
  • Chris “Ludacris” Bridges – March 4, 7:30pm, $40
  • The Gatlin Brothers – March 5, 3:30pm, $25
  • Chris Young – March 5, 7:30pm, $60
  • Neal McCoy – March 6, 3:30pm, $30
  • Josh Turner – March 6, 7:30pm, $35
  • Roots & Boots Aaron Tippin, Collin Raye and Sammy Kershaw – March 7, 3:30pm. $35
  • CeCe Winans – March 7, 7:30pm, $25
  • Tanya Tucker – March 8, 3:30pm, $35
  • The Jacksons – March 8, 7:30pm, $40
  • Bill Haley Jr. & The Comets – March 9, 10:30am, FREE with paid gate admission
  • TOMMY JAMES & THE SHONDELLS – March 9, 3:30pm, $35
  • FOR KING & COUNTRY – March 9, 7:30pm, $40
  • Wayne Newton – March 10, 3:30pm, $40
  • Train- March 10, 7:30pm, $50
  • Sawyer Brown – March 11, 3:30pm, $30
  • The Isley Brothers – March 11, 7:30pm, $40
  • The Leroy Van Dyke Country Gold Tour, featuring Leroy Van Dyke, T.G.Sheppard, Mandy Barnett and T. Graham Brown – March 12, 3:30pm, $35
  • Lynyrd Skynyrd – March 12, 7:30pm, $60

 

More Things to do at the Festival

The fun doesn’t stop with the concerts! In addition to the ticketed concerts, you can enjoy FREE entertainment throughout the festival. A variety of live shows are offered each year, including entertaining pig races, dog shows, cooking demos, and much more. There are also tons of livestock demos.

If you love rides, make sure to also purchase a wristband to enjoy the Midway rides and games.

Check the festival website for the daily event schedule.

Lastly, take full advantage of the information booths. The volunteers are helpful, their knowledge base spanning everything from who has the best corndog (a real question I have asked before–the suggestion was spot on!) to locating a specific booth.


Details + Know Before You Go

The Florida Strawberry Festival takes place in Plant City from March 2 – 12, 2023.

Tickets can be purchased at the gate for $10 for adults and $5 for kids, or in advance at participating Publix stores for $8 for adults and $4 for kids.

Separate tickets are required for concerts. You’ll need to purchase a wristband if you want to ride Midway rides.

Visit flstrawberryfestival.com for more details.

 

Feature image credit: Florida Strawberry Festival; all other photos by Stephanie Patterson

Tampa Bay Date Night Guide is a free guide to the best of the Tampa Bay area! We're supported by our advertisers when they buy digital ads & listings, sponsored content, and through affiliate links, so some things you read might be paid for or if you buy something thru a link on our site we might get a commission.


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