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Florida Strawberry Festival
Plant City Observer Friday, Feb. 24, 2017 1 year ago

#BerryFest17 Column: Festival General Manager Paul Davis talks making music and making memories

General Manager Paul Davis talks songs, strawberries and Southern hospitality.

By Paul Davis | Florida Strawberry Festival General Manager 

Since 1930, the sound of music has filled the grounds of the Florida Strawberry Festival. Beginning with local artists and high school bands, our entertainment took off in 1972 with the booking of “Queen of the West” Dale Evans. More recently, we’ve seen artists like Reba, Taylor Swift, Rascal Flatts and John Legend. This year is no different with our theme of “We’re Playing Your Song!” Music has always played a special part in our festival because music makes memories — and we love creating

There is no better place in Plant City to make memories than at the Florida Strawberry Festival. With entertainment, livestock shows, rides and tasty treats, we cater our event to families and pride ourselves on always having a family-friendly environment. Beginning Thursday, March 2, our agriculture industry and our residents will be ready for fun as we invite almost 600,000 individuals to join in the celebration of our most prized commodity. They will come from other towns and states and some from other countries, anticipating the Southern hospitality for which we are famous.

For our 82nd year, we have an exciting festival planned. We’re inviting 24 of the country’s top entertainers, bringing in over 85 of the most exciting rides and hosting hundreds of youth exhibitors in seven different livestock shows. In addition, we’ll be displaying the artwork, photographs and homemade items thousands of our local residents entered into competition, cooking up some of the tastiest treats from hundreds of food vendors and, most of all, picking more strawberries than you could ever imagine for shortcakes, milkshakes, cheesecakes, cobblers, ice cream and more.

One of the highlights of this year’s event will be the release of our much-anticipated history book, The Florida Strawberry Festival: A Brief History. For more than 30 years, we have dreamed of compiling a complete history of the Florida Strawberry Festival, and our dream is finally a reality. In 208 pages, readers will see the evolution and continued tradition of our event’s rich 82 years. The book will be on sale at the festival, and we hope you will enjoy the photos and stories.

For the fourth year, we have proudly partnered with Publix Super Markets’ stores to bring discounted admission tickets to families to make visits as cost effective as possible. For information on admission tickets, concert tickets, events and more, please visit us at Be sure to follow us on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and our free mobile app for updates and pictures of festival fun. You can also receive direct reminders and information by subscribing on our website to our “Berry Latest” emails.  

Our staff is working diligently to ensure a successful festival, but the help and support from our community is paramount. We are truly grateful for every one of our nearly 2,500 volunteers and for the warm, welcoming spirit they show to our visitors. If you have never volunteered at the festival, I encourage you to do so. It’s not too late to sign up, and it’s much more fun than it is work! In addition, I would like to thank our board members, sponsors, committee members, community stakeholders and every one of our visitors. Each of you has a hand in making our festival such a success.

At the 2017 Florida Strawberry Festival, “We’re Playing Your Song!” I hope you, your family and all your friends will join us. I look forward to seeing you and hearing about the precious memories you have made and will continue to make for years to come.

Paul Davis is the general manager for the Florida Strawberry Festival. 

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