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Plant City Observer Friday, Feb. 23, 2018 8 months ago

Berry-rific day

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Everyone can eat a strawberry shortcake during the festival, however, it takes a truly dedicated fan to accomplish the berry-rific challenge.
by: Breanne Williams Staff Writer

T

he Florida Strawberry Festival draws more than 500,000 guests each year. While many visitors are simply excited to take part in the festivities, locals tend to spend the 11 days paying homage to the industry that gave the town the nickname of “Winter Strawberry Capital of the World.”

Plant City businesses are pulling out all the stops to ensure the berry greatest merchandise is available in time for the jamboree. With much dedication, one can truly have the most “berry-rific” day both inside and out of the festival grounds.

With so many local boutiques and restaurants offering one of a kind experiences the specifics of this day are easily shifted to include other venues. The key, however, is approaching the day like you would a triathlon. Prepare, don’t use all of your energy in the first event and make sure you have a uniform that will set you apart from all of your competitors.

Attire is a must and luckily shops like A Peace of Plant City, Fringe Boutique and RAOK are all ready to adorn you in the latest red and green fashions. Go classic with a simple red dress or get ready for a day at the festival with black jeans and a red sequined strawberry tshirt.

Starting early is essential to be able to fill your Instagram or Facebook with a full day’s worth of produce loving content. Start your day at The Corner Store enjoying a customizable smoothie bowl full of fresh strawberries, blackberries, almonds, granola, edible flowers and a smoothie base.

Then run, don’t walk, to the festival grounds. If you’re fast enough you may even beat the onslaught of crowds that are sure to fill the parking lot as the day progresses.

Once you’re on the festival grounds stop at any of the more than 20 vendors who offer accessories, clothes and legend-berry decor. In order to ensure this is a fruitful expedition don't forget to stop at the Neighborhood Village to snap a selfie with the 2018 Strawberry Queen’s dazzling pageant gown.

Your stomach and your tote bags are now full so run to the Time Share Exit Team Gazebo at 11 a.m. to take a photo with the man of the week, Mr. Berry himself. The Florida Strawberry Festival’s mascot will be waiting for adoring fans three times a day but get there early to avoid long lines.

Since you’ve already gone through the hassle of parking check out one of the four strawberry food eating contests. There is the Fanta Strawberry Soda Throwdown, the Strawberry Spaghetti Eating contest, the Strawberry Mashed Potato Pie Eating Contest and the renowned Strawberry Shortcake Eating contest.

Only dedicated berry enthusiasts will be able to accomplish the next feat. You’ve been running around for hours and are starting to feel peckish. For a double whammy, head to Olde Town Pizzeria and order the strawberry walnut salad and take along a very special lunch guest, the owner of Berry Publications, Karen Berry!

After lunch head to Krazy Kup so you don’t run out of juice. Order a double shot of espresso and its famous strawberry cream cheese croissant. Spend your afternoon in one of Plant City’s many u-pick strawberry fields gathering the sweet berries to take home to enjoy for days to come.

And of course, no strawberry themed day would be complete without a trip to Parkesdale Farm Market. Order a refreshing strawberry shake and don’t forget to buy some “strawberry onions” and freshly made “Old Fashioned Goodness” before returning home, changing into your red flannel pajamas and watching “Across the Universe” while singing along to the Beatles “Strawberry Fields Forever.”

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