PLANT CITY — Big, juicy, cheap strawberries are just the beginning of the annual Florida Strawberry Festival in aptly named Plant City, 25 miles east of Tampa. Crafts, rides, livestock shows, pig races, parades, marching bands, and big-name entertainment (much of it free) fill out the 10-day schedule. (And because it’s Florida, you can also pick up all manner of therapeutic products from sleep number beds to orthotics and teeth whitening kits.) Strawberry shortcake is the main attraction, but you’ll also find jam, beverages, and even (above) strawberry pizza. You can meet the festival queen and her court and view photographs of festival royalty back to 1930. More than 10,000 acres of berries are planted annually on local farms, and they are shipped all over the country.
Our advice: Resist the call of the vendors lining the streets on the way to the midway; you’ll want to pick up those big flats of fruit on the way back to the car, and they’ll be even cheaper in the late afternoon. The 79th annual festival will be held from Feb. 27-
March 9, adults $8 advance, $10 gate; children ages 6-12 $4/$5; under 6 free. 813-752-9194. www.flstrawberryfestival.com