Strawberry Shortcake or Cracker Country? Are you more about a small town with big hearts or the largess of the city (3 Scooter Rides!) In this episode I hand down the verdict on which is better, The Florida State Fair or The Florida Strawberry Festival…. and it just might surprise you!
Florida State Fair February 8 – 19
Florida Strawberry Festival March 1-11
Transcript at the bottom of this page!
Florida State Fairgrounds
Florida Strawberry Festival
The structure of a goat’s eye allows him/her/kids the ability to have 330 degrees of vision. This means they can see almost all the way around themselves except their backs!
Great Things Tampa Bay is hosted and produced by Kyle Sasser.
There was no paid advertising in this episode. All recommendations are given based on personal experiences.
Welcome to Great Things Tampa Bay, the podcast about great eats, great places, and great people in the Greater Tampa Bay area. I’m your host Kyle Sasser, a Tampa Bay native, and realtor. This is episode 23, and this is a Florida Strawberry Festival versus the Florida State Fair. Thanks for giving us your time. I know there’s a lot of things vying for your attention: social media, internet, friends, family, work, and I appreciate you choosing to spend your time listening to me and this podcast. I promise I will do my best to bring you something awesome.
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I’m a nearly 40-year native of the area, and I definitely have my opinion, I’m sure most people do, which festival or fair they prefer, the Florida Strawberry Festival which is out in Plant City or the Florida State Fair? Both of these events are pretty massive for each location, taking up a substantial acreage in the festival grounds. So they do all have kind of similar amenities. You know, they all have a Midway with rides, of course. They all have exhibits, and they all have crafts and then a bunch of carnival barkers out there barking their wares, selling spiralizers and Cutco knives and all sorts of great things. But even though there’s a lot of similarities, there is a little bit of difference and people will defend their fair or festival to the death.
So without further ado, let’s dive into it. And so the Florida State Fair this year is February 8th through 19th. So basically, I’m recording this on the 7th so it actually starts tomorrow and I drive by it relatively frequently. I saw them putting the fair rides together and all that good stuff, getting everything good to go. So the Florida State Fair, I would say their primary focus is more of kind of Florida overall. They have their own little section there called Cracker Country where they have some old-timey Florida living, like the old cabin and how things used to be.
The Midway, I feel, is a little larger than the Strawberry Festival. A lot of duplicate rides. And they also have the agriculture section where people are showing pigs and cows and all that good stuff. Pretty similar. I don’t know if this is just me personally, but the Florida State Fair always felt a little dustier, is the only way I can describe it. I don’t know if it’s just something with the soil there. It feels a little dustier. I don’t know if you’ve ever been to a Renaissance Fair, but just whenever you get home, there’s just dust and dirt everywhere. And don’t get me wrong. I mean, the Florida Strawberry Festival definitely goes the same way, but the Florida State Fair, I don’t know if it’s just because it’s bigger or just the way it’s set up but it always feels a little dustier.
So the main difference, I would say, between the Florida State Fair and the Florida Strawberry Festival, and if there’s any doubt, I do have a preference for the Florida Strawberry Festival. It might have been because I was born and raised in Dover, Florida there, so where the dinosaurs are on the side of Interstate 4. That was where I grew up. So very familiar with Plant City and the farmers there. And actually, we have a farmer interview episode coming up a little bit closer to the Strawberry Festival.
So I’m not going to try to play fair on this at all. I definitely like the Florida Strawberry Festival better. The primary difference to me, the Florida Strawberry Festival does feel a little bit more small-town, a little bit more low-key. They definitely…like I said, they all have kind of the same major keys, but the difference of…I would say that the Florida Strawberry Festival does have a little bit or has much better concerts and shows. They definitely have a knack for getting large country music acts there which is not necessarily my cup of tea. I can’t really say I get terribly excited about Big & Rich or anything like that, but if that is your thing, the Florida Strawberry Festival is definitely the way to go.
So the Florida State Fair is February 8th through the 19th, and then after that, they kind of transitioned over to Florida and they started setting up there…excuse me, to the Florida Strawberry Festival, and start setting up there. The Florida Strawberry Festival this year is between March 1st and 11th, and that is to coincide with the primary picking season for strawberries which we go into a little bit more on the interview with Fancy Farms. Mr. Bob McDowell was kind enough to sit down with me and give a nice long interview on the ins and outs of strawberry farming. It’s very interesting, learned a bunch of things there. So yeah.
So March 1st through 11th, looks like there’s quite a bit of interesting things going on at the Florida State…i’s not the Florida State Fair, the Florida Strawberry Festival. So like I said, the aforementioned Big & Rich is gonna be there. Oak Ridge Boys, Reba McEntire is gonna be there. Trace Adkins, Charlie Pride, Earth, Wind & Fire, Sawyer Brown, Babyface, and Brad Paisley. So if any of those kind of piques your interests, be sure to head on out to the Florida Strawberry Festival to check those out. Also, pick up some lovely delicious strawberry shortcake.
Funny enough, I grew up next to a strawberry farm, and really don’t like strawberries that much which is relatively humorous but there you go. I think it was one of those things. They were plenty and abundant when I was a kid and can’t say I got sick of them because I never really ate them. The only strawberries I really liked, and this is probably blasphemous to a lot of you, but the McDonald’s strawberry milkshakes. So if you ask me where the best strawberries are from, I would have to say Parksdale because I grew up next to them and Fancy Farms because they were kind enough to do an interview with me which we will be releasing in a couple weeks. Other than that, I couldn’t…I don’t like them that much. So yeah.
So Florida State Fair versus Florida Strawberry Festival. If you think that the Florida State Fair is the better show in town, I would love to hear why. Please send me an email. Go to the website, greatthingstb.com. Go to the Contact Us page and send us the reason why because I’ve never…with the exception of the fact that the Florida State Fair is located closer to a larger population. I mean, there’s only so many people in Plant City and Brandon and Lakeland that’ll make it to. So I know most people from Tampa or St. Pete, they’re pretty much gonna stop there at the State Fair versus the Florida Strawberry Festival.
If you’ve only been going to one and you’ve never been to the other, I do recommend kind of switching it up and see what all the fuss is about. Maybe you’ll like the other one better, who knows? But I know for myself, I’ve been to both many times and got to say Florida Strawberry Festival always comes out on top. So anyway, thanks for listening. If you disagree or agree, send me a message. I’d love to hear from you.
So who wants to know a fun fact about goats? So here’s a fun fact. So goats, their pupils are actually horizontal and almost perfectly rectangular. And what this does, this actually gives the goats a field of vision equating to about 330 degrees. So if you kind of put a compass on top of your head and all that. So 360 degrees would be that you could see completely all the way around you which would be crazy, but 330 degrees which is the goat’s field of view means they can see virtually everything except for their own backs without turning their head. And as you can imagine, this does give them some tremendous chances to not be eaten by all the scary predators out there. So there you go, a little bit of a goat fact for you.
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