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Florida Guide > Days Out

Tomatoes and Strawberries

Florida is home to a whole host of fairs and shows. Unlike most English fairs, which are generally named after the region in which the show is held, i. e. Cheshire County Show, Royal Lancashire Show, North Yorkshire Show etc. , events in Florida tend to be named after the ‘theme’ of the show. Two of the best known of these are fruit themed, namely The Strawberry Festival and The Ruskin Tomato Festival (and yes – Tomatoes are actually fruit).

In late February / early March each year the town of Plant City hosts the annual Florida Strawberry Festival. Apart from a break of six years during the Second World War this festival has been held each year since 1930 when it was first organised by the local Lions Club to celebrate the annual harvest. The festival is now a showcase for exhibits of agriculture, livestock, horticulture, and homemade goods and crafts. Naturally the 10-day show features a variety of strawberry products - shortcake, milkshakes, sundaes, ice cream, and just plain strawberries – and all are available for purchase, along with other flavours of course!

Entertainment includes various competitions, parades and the Midway Fairground Ride-a Thon – tickets for the latter being additional to the Festival entry fee of just $9. In addition to free music events, there are also many well-known names to be seen at minimal cost ($10 - $20) and the 2008 line-up included Bobby Vinton, Charlie Pride, Crystal Gayle and the evergreen Tom Jones!

In May the Annual Tomato and Heritage Festival is held in Ruskin, about 18 miles south of Tampa Bay, at the EG Simmons Park, which provides an ideal backdrop for the events that take place during the festival. Like the Strawberry Festival the show celebrates Florida’s agricultural heritage. Although the show lasts only two days the low entry fee of $5 (aged 12 and under are free) meant that in 2007 the show attracted approximately seven thousand visitors.

The show includes an antique tractor show, gardening seminars and plant shows, plus classic cars, plenty of food vendors and FREE tomatoes! For the music lovers the festival presents a variety of country and bluegrass performers, while children can visit the Kid' s Korner and sample the rides and games. The Kids Korner also features a butterfly tent, with the butterflies being released at the end of Festival. Parking is free and a complimentary shuttle service transports you from the parking area to the main gate.

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Page added on: 27 February 2009
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