To say this year has been one for the records is without a doubt an understatement. We’ve laughed, we’ve cried, we’ve worn masks and lots of pajamas, alone time has abounded and we’ve logged more FaceTime hours than ever. Our homes are organized and yet our minds seem scattered. We’ve experienced each end of the spectrum and every point in between. It has been and continues to be a difficult season for many. We mourn with those who have lost loved ones and pray for those who are still struggling.
We were so blessed to make it through our 2020 festival. Our plan for 2021 will be, as always, what is best for our visitors. Safety will remain the top priority in everything we do. But we have also stood firm in our belief that our guests need some sense of normalcy and joy. While the 2021 festival won’t look exactly like it has in years prior, it will remain the festival we know and love in so many ways. We hope many of our loyal guests will continue to join us, but we trust everyone to do what you believe is best for your family.
I’m sure you’ve noticed at this point that the most prominent decision we had to make for the 2021 event was to forgo having headline entertainers that would require visitors to sit shoulder-to-shoulder in our grandstand area for an extended period of time. However, we have booked more on-grounds entertainment than ever with seating that will be appropriately distanced. We can’t wait to soon see our visitors enjoying exciting rides, competitive events, on-grounds entertainment, agricultural exhibits and just about every kind of food you can imagine – including every strawberry concoction possible. The one thing you can be assured will never change is the southern hospitality you have come to expect from our workers, vendors and volunteers.
In preparing for an event in these unprecedented times, we have formed great partnerships with our local and state health officials, receiving regular updates on the everchanging recommendations from local, state and national health professionals. We will continue to maintain contact with them during the 11 days of the 2021 festival to ensure our guidelines and protocols are in line with the latest recommendations. We’ve also formed a dedicated team (including a local medical doctor and a risk management professional) to help us make decisions and plan responses. This team will be utilized during the festival to continuously monitor our protocols and make changes as they see appropriate. We strongly recommend that each guest wear a face mask throughout the duration of their visit. Per county mandate, masks will be required in enclosed facilities unless a county-designated exemption is met. We have installed 130 hand sanitizing stations, installed more advanced air filtration systems, conducted intensive building sanitation (and will continue to do so throughout the festival), and spent a total of $600,000 in added safety measures for you.
Your support is vital to these efforts. Your personal responsibility is what is allowing us to have this celebration that is important to our community and beloved by our loyal patrons. Please do your part in ensuring the safety of yourself and others by following our safety policies. Be advised that because we are following guidelines and mandates from the county, state and CDC, policies can be updated at any time.
We truly value your support and participation in this year’s festival. Our agriculture industry, our city, our vendors, and our youth livestock exhibitors are counting on us all.
I can’t wait to see y’all soon!
President, Florida Strawberry Festival®