Strawberries Get Their Days in the Sun
The 2018 Florida Strawberry Festival, with the theme Building New Memories, has decades of sweet recollections behind it.
Since 1930 the annual celebration of the succulent fruit has brought thousands of area residents and visitors to Plant City, the Winter Strawberry Capital of the World.
This year's festival begins Thursday, March 1, and continues through Sunday, March 11. The event focuses on local agriculture, arts, businesses, horticulture, and industry. There's an impressive entertainment lineup, an extensive midway, and lots of food - including the perennial favorite, strawberry shortcake.
Hundreds of volunteers and civic groups help stage the spectacle.
On Feb 21, the Hillsborough County Board of County Commissioners proclaimed the festival's 11-day run "Florida Strawberry Festival Days." Ally Burt, this year's Strawberry Festival queen, and her court were on hand for the ceremony.
"It's an honor to be here today," Ally told everyone in the Boardroom. "We hope to see y'all at the festival."
Hillsborough County produces about 15 percent of the nation's strawberries, with more than 11,000 acres of the fruit planted in the area. The crop has an annual economic impact of more than $800 million.
Farmers aren't the only ones who get their hands dirty. Toward the end of the harvest, many strawberry fields open for U-pick. Blueberries, blackberries, and other fruits and vegetables also are available to those willing to stoop and stretch for them at the end of the Hillsborough County crops' respective growing seasons.