Keel Farms is offering a brand new summer festival for watermelon fanatics across Tampa Bay. The Watermelon Festival kicks off this weekend and will feature a variety of melon-themed merchandise and events.
Keel Farms is upping its game with the creation of its inaugural Watermelon Festival, to be held June 29 and 30 at the winery.
When you think of summer as a child, you often think of hot, sunny days spent running through a sprinkler with watermelon as your snack of choice. The juicy fruit is a staple for families across the country and Keel Farms is hoping to keep that tradition alive in Plant City with its new festival.
“We’re adding the festivals basically to give families more opportunities to come out and experience the farm throughout the year,” Clay Keel, president of Keel Farms, said. “Watermelons are a pretty common crop around here and a lot of the strawberry farmers plant them after strawberry season. We did that, we planted about a half acre this year and so we will be selling some of our own there. But you know, this is kind of just to celebrate that season. Watermelon has got to be one of the most popular fruits out there. Everybody likes watermelon.”
The festival will run each day from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. at the Winery, 5210 Thonotosassa Road. Unlike some of the other fruit-based festivals held at Keel & Curley this one will not feature a u-pick, but rather will have the fresh fruit available for purchase at a booth. Because of the more relaxed nature of the festival there’s no reason to fight to get there early to get in the field.
Keel announced the festival will not only have the fresh fruit, but also feature a variety of melon-themed merchandise. The watermelons themselves will come in a variety of shapes, colors and sizes and Keel & Curley will be premiering three watermelon beverages special to the event.
You will be able to walk away with your very own watermelon beer, cider and wine just by visiting the winery’s stations throughout the festival. In true summer fashion, there will also be mouth-watering barbecue on site for families that want the full southern summer experience.
All day long, there will be watermelon eating contests with qualifying rounds for the final competition at 5 p.m.
When attendees arrive, they’ll have the opportunity to take part in a variety of events. The winery itself will have its traditional festivities, food and drinks both inside and on the large patio. There will also be a children’s play area featuring a 50-foot water slide and splash area special for the event. In that area, there will be a plethora of special kids activities going on all day. You can also plant your own watermelon plant to take home with you.
For the adults, some of the best offerings at any Keel Farms festival are the unique vendors that participate. Keel said they hand-pick about 15 one-of-a-kind vendors for the event that he feels add a powerhouse lineup to the festival. Many are tying their products into the watermelon theme and the majority are bringing items they have crafted by hand rather than reselling items they’ve collected.
This is just one of the many new and innovative events Keel Farms plans to host this year. Throughout the summer, Keel said there will be several more new offerings and special dinners, and the winery is always offering special deals to make each experience fun for everyone. They currently hold summer specials including deals on bottles of wine, meal and drink combos and the ever-popular winery tours.
“It’s very unique because you’re coming to a farm, you’re coming to an ag place and you’re seeing what can come from that,” Keel said. “We’re making beer and wine, we’re making produce, you can see the fruit and vegetables coming out of the dirt. So many of these type of festivals are in Lakeland, Brandon and Tampa, in concrete jungles if you will, and you’re not seeing firsthand where the product came from. This is a country destination where you can get outside and experience the outdoors. You might even see a cow or a chicken. We’re providing that hometown country feeling to all of our events.”
IF YOU GO
Keel Farms Watermelon Festival
When: 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. June 29 and 30
Where: Keel & Curley Winery, 5210 Thonotosassa Road
Cost: Parking and admission are free