A Visit to the 2017 Florida Strawberry Festival

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Yesterday was a beautiful day to spend a few hours at the Florida Strawberry Festival in Plant City – just a few miles East of Tampa.

Plant City is arguably the largest strawberry growing area in the Country. During each March ‘s strawberry harvesting time the area shows its pride with one heck of an eleven day agricultural fair celebration paying homage to the growers – many are multi-generational family farms. Besides a large midway for the kids and young at heart, there are the animal and Ag demonstrations and exhibits with two real stand-outs. First is the strawberry decked out smartly in every edible form imaginable from shortcakes, shakes, sundaes to jams, jellies and more.

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Secondly, it’s over a week filled with some of the finest Country stars making appearances on the Wish Farms Sound Stage. This year featured Willie Nelson, Little Big Town, The Bellamy Brothers, Jennifer Nettles, Brenda Lee, Maddie & Tae and Rascal Flatts, to name a few.

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This year we chose to see Larry Gatlin and the Gatlin Brothers’ afternoon performance. They were as good as we expected, singing many of the hits they have had over their 40+ year career. They had two of the famous Lennon Sisters – Jan and Kathy – join them on stage for a couple of songs. They sang their hearts out for a very large crowd for about an hour and a half. Great show – even though the temp was hovering in the low 80’s, there was a nice breeze now and then that was much appreciated by the crowd.

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Our friends from Canada – Cheryl and Ray – joined us for this excursion and we spent several hours at the Festival enjoying the sights, listening to (and buying more CD’s from) one of Niki’s favorite groups – “Runa Pacha” – so versatile on the pan flute. We also enjoyed the Fair-type food including, of course, a mandatory round of huge, fresh, strawberry shortcake.

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The Florida Strawberry Festival is a lot of fun and we enjoy visiting it each year. We do recommend  if you ever have the chance to catch it as well.

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See more photos of the Florida Strawberry Festival on our Pinterest pages at https://www.pinterest.com/snowbirdrvtrail/florida-strawberry-festival/.

Safe travels and enjoy every adventure,

Niki and Jack

The Florida Strawberry Festival – Plant City, Florida

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The Florida Strawberry Festival

The place to find all the Midway fun and games, the great Fair food, top Country Music entertainers and whipped cream topped mountains of strawberry shortcake all in one place – for one week each year – in Plant City, Florida!

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We visited on their “Heroes Day” (March 9th) when all active and former Military were admitted free and we were surprised and delighted that they allowed Niki in free as well “for putting up with me”.

We came on this day specifically to enjoy some strawberry shortcake and to see Ray Stevens perform his comedy and all of his old and new songs. Boy did he deliver and we enjoyed it as well as a stroll around the grounds and, of course, some great, fresh strawberry shortcake.

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After the show we stopped for dinner at another Plant city landmark, Fred’s Market Restaurant for a Southern, homestyle buffet that that is so darn good and plentiful that we only dare visit once a year.

For more photos of our visit to the Florida Strawberry Festival visit us on Pinterest at https://www.pinterest.com/snowbirdrvtrail/the-florida-strawberry-festival/.

Day Trip to Plant City, Florida

Just about 25 miles East of Tampa, Florida sits the hub for the Strawberry Growing Capital of Florida – Plant City. You’ll find it just off I-4, the main route between Tampa and Orlando. It’s a small but vibrant city in an agricultural region and probably best known for the annual Strawberry Festival.

Among the special places to visit in the area we know of two that are well worth the trip.

Toufayan Bakeries in Plant City, Florida
Toufayan Bakeries in Plant City, Florida

The Toufayan Bakeries plant, established in 2005, is just East of Town at 2615 E US Highway 92. It’s a modern factory that employs more than 100 local residents. Among the many things they bake are items in the “Sophia’s Cookies” line that you find in your local grocery stores.

Sophia's Cookies
Sophia’s Cookies

Now what do you suppose they do with the overruns, extras, and remnants from a successful day of baking? Well, suppose no longer for they have the “Toufayan Cookie Cottage” located right beside the plant!

Toufayan Cookie Cottage in Plant City, FL
Toufayan Cookie Cottage in Plant City, FL

There you may find on any given day, boxes or bags of Pecan Shorts (shortbread cookies), Vanilla Cremes, Chocolate Chocolate Chips, or Vanilla, Lemon, or Peanut Butter Sandwich cookies and others. All fresh and all at a greatly reduced price.

Inside the Toufayan Cookie Cottage in Plant City, FL
Inside the Toufayan Cookie Cottage in Plant City, FL

If you like cookies, this is the place for you.

Our second stop of this day is also on US Highway 92 and just West of the Plant City downtown.
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It is Parkesdale Farm Market and was started in 1969 by daughter Cheryl and son-in-law Jim Meeks of Parkesdale Farms Founder R.E. (Roy) Parke, Jr. who started a farm with just 10 acres of strawberry plants in 1956. The farm has expanded over the years into hundreds of acres of the finest strawberries, citrus, and vegetables available anywhere in the country. Parkesdale also added their own plant nurseries, with four extensive greenhouses, where they produce over a million vegetables and flowering plants annually.

Inside Parkesdale Farm Market, Plant City, FL
Inside Parkesdale Farm Market, Plant City, FL

Parkesdale Farm Market is the place to find citrus, fruit, and all manner of vegetables. They have a gift shop and they will also mail fresh fruit to anyplace in the Country.

The main draw for most visitors from around the World who visit the area is the fresh strawberry shortcake prepared while you watch during the local strawberry growing Season, which is January through mid-April.

I'll have a fresh Parkesdale Strawberry Shortcake Please
I’ll have a fresh Parkesdale Strawberry Shortcake Please

“Every winter, people flock to Parkesdale Farm Market from across the United States, even as far as Europe and Asia, just for a bowl of our World Famous Strawberry Shortcake! Served fresh from the fields, sweet sliced berries sit atop a bed of shortcake with a healthy dollop of whipped cream as garnish.

“Our shortcake has been an ever improving recipe to combine the tastes of the south with the appeal of the north for the perfect shortcake. A little like a biscuit with a touch of cake, our shortcake is just sweet enough to compliment the juicy strawberries and moist enough to soak up all the sugary flavored berry juices.”

Parkesdale Farms "Garden of Eatin"
Parkesdale Farms “Garden of Eatin”

Niki and Jack will attest to the fact that once you try a Parkesdale Strawberry Shortcake your mouth will water just thinking about it and you will soon be planning your next visit. (We have heard that even President Obama likes a Parkesdale Strawberry Shortcake.)

Enjoying a fresh Parkesdale Farms Strawberry Shortcake
The place to enjoy a fresh Parkesdale Farms Strawberry Shortcake

There is a large, enclosed and comfortable, greenhouse-like area with picnic tables set among the various potted flowering and hanging plants and palm trees they have for sale, which makes it a unique place to sit and enjoy your shortcake.

Nothing quite like a fresh Parkesdale Farms Strawberry Shortcake
Nothing quite like a fresh Parkesdale Farms Strawberry Shortcake

What began as a small farm market has continued to grow and expand into the largest Strawberry, Citrus, and Produce Market in Florida!

Parkesdale Farm Market is located at 3702 West Baker Street, Plant City, Florida 33563 (813) 754-2704 or (888) 311-1701 Toll Free

The Dee-licious Fun Has Begun!

The FLORIDA STRAWBERRY FESTIVAL is underway in Plant City
Feb 27th – March 9th
You’ll find a great midway, the freshest strawberry shortcake (and everything else strawberry), and this year’s headline performers include Colt Ford, Little Big Town, Rascal Flatts, Josh Turner, Kellie Pickler, Crystal Gayle, The Oak Ridge Boys, The Band Perry.
Visit http://www.flstrawberryfestival.com/.
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