It had been a few years, but when the chance to revisit the Florida Strawberry Festival came up, I wasn't going to pass it up. For those of you not familiar, the Florida Strawberry Festival is an event that runs in early March for 11 days a year. It is peak strawberry season in Plant City, Florida (aptly named) and thus, the city hosts a festival devoted to all things strawberry.
As I've come to experience in the past years' events, the Florida Strawberry Festival is host to a large midway filled with flat rides (and a few coasters), games of chance a TONS of fair foods of all varieties.
And it isn't a trip to the Florida Strawberry Festival without a stop at Parkesdale Farms, a cross between a farmer's market and a dessert bar...
For the first time in my experience, we entered the Florida Strawberry Festival from the midway side of the fairgrounds.
They have a zipper... But I figured for my skull's sake, I'd pass.
This was one of several large ferris wheels guests could enjoy at the festival.
The Florida Strawberry Festival even has its own mascots!
The fairgrounds are permanent and are lightly used throughout the year outside of the Strawberry Festival.
In case you're wondering how strawberries are grown.
It wouldn't be a midway without a Tilt-A-Whirl.
Smoked animal legs are never in short supply here.
Always fun to see a Larson Fire Ball out in the wild.
And one of these.
A Magnum P.I.-themed flat ride.
I'm ok with not getting this credit.
I'll be honest... I really don't remember half of the names of these flat rides anymore.
Lots of play areas for the kids.
I couldn't help but stare at this one.
It's edgy because they spelled "Escape" as "Excape" for some reason...
The rules for Jurassic Excape are the best.
I can't look at this type of flat without thinking of the vintage "TPR Visits the Ghetto Fair" reports from way back when...
All the fair foods!
Strawberry Dole Whip!
BREAKING! Here's your first look at the new Super Nintendo Land coming to Universal Studios Japan, Universal Orlando, Universal Studios Hollywood and Universal Studios Victorville, CA.
I appreciate their dedication to replicating the classic Super Mario Bros. 2 look of the Koopa Troopers.
The attention to detail is stunning!
They even convinced Nintendo to let them debut a new costume for Luigi and a new Yushi to ride on! I can't wait to experience this closer to home!
Be warned... You may not walk out of this festival without sweating oil out of your pores.
All the fried sweets!
The Midway has really grown substantially over the years.
For those that like games of chance...
Animatronics in the Midway are always a pleasant surprise.
I don't know what makes me laugh more... The pixelated google image or the religious text slapped on the side of a flat ride.
BREAKING: Here's your first look at the new How to Train Your Dragon land coming to Universal Orlando!
More fried food.
This was the first time I'd seen fresh cinnamon rolls at the festival... As tempting as they looked, I was saving up my room for something later.
I've always enjoyed these compact drop towers.
You don't come to the festival without walking out of this tent with a sack of candy.
There's live entertainment too.
I've had some of this cart's most outrageous burgers over the years... In the interest of my trying not to shave more years off of my life, I passed this time around.
There are strawberry festival diorama contests...
This might be the best themed bumper cars ever...
Who else remembers the Crash Test Dummies?
Yep... They have a traveling Pinfari model...
Years ago they had the one that ran at Geauga Lake for years, but I'm not sure if this is the same coaster or just the same model.
I experienced this type of flat ride for the first time with TPR on the 2008 East Coast trip... Always fun.
"Crunchy balls of goodness!"
On that note, time to go enjoy a different kind of goodness...
Parkesdale Market is a must visit when in Plant City (plan your time enjoying the rest of Plant City wisely, because while there is so much to do elsewhere, this is where you really want to spend some time)!
It is rare that during the Florida Strawberry Festival the line for the classic Strawberry Shortcake bar would be short. I guess we timed it well because we only waited about ten minutes.
No joke, I want a whipped cream hose installed in my home.
BLISS IN A PLASTIC CUP!
Seriously folks... If you love strawberries, shortcake, whipped cream or any combination of the above, this will be your new poison.
Parkesdale Market is just as much of an attraction as it is a farmer's market of sorts. Welcome to the "Garden of Eaton."
I dubbed thyself Strawberry King. The Game of Thrones has begun.
You don't leave here without a flat of fresh strawberries.
All of the produce grown at Parkesdale Farms is naturally sweeter as these crops are grown adjacent to the strawberry fields. And their prices are awesome too!
There used to be a sign for the Strawberry Onions that advised that they help keep the elephants away. In my experience, the elephants have stayed away after buying these onions.
Because you don't eat your main meal before eating dessert, we stopped at the nearby Portillo's to try it out.
I've heard people rave about this Chicago establishment for years and wanted to see what all the hype was about.
The buns really sell these dogs well. The Polish Sausage was pretty great.
A classic dog (don't judge me, I use ketchup) was a good choice too.
Nothing life changing, but a great place for a quick meal at a stupid-cheap price. Lots of variety on the menu beyond hot dogs including beef sandwiches, tamales (I had one of those too), ribs and desserts.
I leave you with a punny farewell. I appreciate you all berry much.
Hey Mr Jedi, don't tell me you missed the best ride at the fest ! The Sky Wheel ! We went on monday, beautiful weather. Got an early ride on the wheel and tried for a evening ride to see all the lights on the midway. The lines were long but we stuck with it. We were the next in line to be seated when the operator emptied all the seats and didn't refill with riders. The guy in the control booth climbed all around the structure where there were motors and sniffed each one, then banged on each one. Yes Sniffed. He came down from the structure and said, "meh, it'll be at least 15 minutes before she runs again. " Oh boy, we bailed. 45 minutes later the guy was still sniffing and banging. Never did see it run again. When all was said and done, I must say that the rides were in the most ghetto condition of any fair I've been to recently. On the plus side, we bought some strawberry onions to take home. Tonight I am making Carmelized Strawberry Onions with Applewood Bacon and Bourbon to go on top of some brie and fresh baked bread. Yummy !
djcoastermark wrote:...On the plus side, we bought some strawberry onions to take home. Tonight I am making Carmelized Strawberry Onions with Applewood Bacon and Bourbon to go on top of some brie and fresh baked bread. Yummy !
^ and ^^ The most fun was going home and stopping at all the produce stands. ( well, besides the Skywheel, which ran a really good terrorizing program) The key to getting the cheap and oh so good fruits and veggies, in season, are to go away from the fair. Strawberries go for 7 bucks near and 4 bucks a mile away for half flats. We stopped at so many produce stands on the way home and now have a fridge overflowing with yummies. I love this time of year in La Florida !
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