It’s the berry best. Just east of Tampa there’s a festival that celebrates being the self-proclaimed “Winter Strawberry Capital of the World”. For 11 days every year Plant City throws a hoedown at its fairgrounds to celebrate the annual local crop harvest. It’s filled with food, rides, concerts, cooking demonstrations, and a parade. It’s gotten so popular that the entire county gets a a school day off to celebrate.
It’s all about that sweet red fruit. If Forest Gump were here he’d articulate all the ways strawberries can be used. There’s shortcake, upside down cake, pie, muffins, and strawberry pina coladas. There’s strawberry elephant ears, strawberry flavored lip gloss, strawberry jam, jelly, and butter… you get the drift. If it can be done with a strawberry, it's done at this festival.
There has always been a hometown feel here. Folks are friendly, musically the festival features great country music artists as well as other popular bands past and present, and there's no alcohol served. It's a family-friendly environment for kids of all ages.
Lines at the shortcake vendors can be long, but go amazingly fast. We are standing outside the building at the St. Clement strawberry shortcake concession and the line goes inside and wraps around the entire shortcake booth. There is a sign on the floor that says “4 minutes from here”, and there are easily 40 people ahead of us. It is actually five and a half minutes before we are dishing up that sweet strawberry goodness. It's very impressive. BTW- cash only!
After eating it's time for photographs. The midway proves as photogenic as ever. I give myself an assignment to capture the frenetic energy of the festival, and the rides and people did not disappoint.
Night photography at fairs and festivals is especially pleasing. With a cloudy sky and a setting sun there can be some dynamic images made. Here's what I saw.
There's just so much to see here. I can't take it all in. Besides the shortcake and the rides on the midway, there are agriculture and horticultural exhibits, photography contests, pig races, and even a Strawberry Queen competition. If you missed it this year, don't fret. It'll be back next year. Take the kids or your camera. But, go hungry!