I've been wanting to go to the annual Strawberry Festival held in Plant City, Florida for years but for some reason or another (school, work, etc.) have never been able to make it. Basically its a big fair with carnival rides, greasy (and yummy!) fair food, musical performances and agriculture, livestock and art exhibits. Oh and lots of vendor and arts booths. I mean buildings upon buildings full of them. If you've ever wanted to change your cell phone plan, add to your fridge magnet collection and purchase a jacuzzi all in the same place, I can tell you where to go.
So last Friday we all hopped in the SUV and drove to the fair. This was the 80th year of the festival and a half a million people came from around the state and the country to join in the celebration of that wonderful little red fruit called the strawberry. Strawberries are a big deal around here this time of year and the festival did not disappoint in that regard. There was every kind of strawberry food item imaginable and I wanted them all. Lily wanted to ride the ferris wheel so badly and was begging to from the moment we parked the car and she could see it out her window. So we meandered that way fairly certain it was going to cost an arm and a leg but willing to at least check if it was doable. Yeah, no. It would cost $15 for both kids and Daddy to ride once. So we convinced Lily that it wasn't a great deal and that there were other things we could do like get strawberry ice cream and see animals! She was cool with that and off we went. The kids sat on tractors, checked out the animals (there were chickens, rabbits and cows), met Mr. Berry the Strawberry Festival mascot, saw a magic show (which we all loved!) and generally ran around taking in all the sights and smells as much as they could. There were a lot of people there. It was a little overwhelming at times. Lots of food choices when it came to lunch and I don't do well when I have too many choices. I ended up going with a Greek gyro and the kids had corn dogs. There weren't any gluten-free options but luckily Andrew had brought along a ton of snacks so we walked back to the car so he could have something.
I don't know that we'll go again but it was nice to finally see what the festival is all about. I much prefer a small, local county fair where you're able to touch and hold the animals and talk to the farmers, ride the occasional ride because it doesn't cost too much, walk through exhibit halls full of award winning homemade pies and kids' 4H projects and run into people you know. Kind of like the fair in my hometown in Maine. But then of course I'm always looking for any opportunity to go back to Maine.