The Florida Strawberry Festival began its life in 1930 as a fairly typical rural fair, with agriculture exhibits and contests, rides and lots of down-home food.
These days, the festival attracts some of the biggest stars in music. But it has still managed to keep the nostalgic feel of a traditional fair.
If you're going to make the drive from Bradenton to Plant City, though, those music stars probably will be your main draw. Unfortunately, one of the biggest names on tap for this year, country music legend Merle Haggard, has canceled his appearance. But Kris Kristofferson is taking his place, which is not bad. He's scheduled to perform on March 12. The other headliners are Charley Pride, Josh Turner, Mickey Gilley, Big & Rich, Cheap Trick, Lecrae, Shenandoah, Donny & Marie, Gene Watson, Lonestar, Dick Foxes Golden Boys (Frankie Avalon, Fabian and Bobby Rydell), Trace Adkins, Ray Stevens, Martina McBride, Oak Ridge Boys, Casting Crowns, Tanya Tucker, Cole Swindell and Charlie Wilson.
The concerts starts at 3:30 and 7:30 p.m. daily. There's an extra charge for most of the concerts, but there's plenty of free music and other entertainment going on inside the fairgrounds, along with a great midway and food made with Plant City strawberries.
Details: 10 a.m.-10 p.m. March 3-13, Florida Strawberry Festival grounds, 303 N. Lemon St., Plant City. Tickets: $10 adults, $5 children 6-12, free for children under 6. Some concerts extra. Information: 813-754-1996, flstrawberryfestival.com.
-- Marty Clear