The berry-interesting history behind the Florida Strawberry Festival

With a history dating back to 1930, the festival still carries its fruity tradition every year

Generic photo of strawberries (Pixabay)

PLANT CITY, Fla. – Ever year when the Florida Strawberry Festival returns for 11 days of fruit-related fun, it carries on its very cool origin story.

The festival has a long, rich history dating back to 1930 when it first debuted. Hosted in what is now called the winter strawberry capital of the world, Plant City wasn’t nearly as known for its sweet, fresh berries.

The city’s famous strawberry status stayed unknown until its primary crop was changed to the fruit.

Local farmers in the city had grown strawberries but it wasn’t until Henry Plant constructed a railroad connecting to Tampa that helped develop a market for the fruit.

The Plant City Lions Club, a non-profit organization formed in 1929 to help support its community, helped Plant City gain more traction for its strawberries.

[TRENDING: Become a News 6 Insider]

The club wanted to create an event that celebrated the harvest of strawberries. The idea became a reality, as the Florida Strawberry Festival premiered just a year after the Plant City Lions Club was formed.

It was continuously held until coming to a halt in the 1940s, due to the breakout of World War II.

The event returned in 1948, following its six-year hiatus with the help of the American Legion Post 26, a non-profit organization dedicated to veterans. The festival and its strawberry-related traditions have carried on ever since.

From its small and local event, the festival has now expanded to include a pageant queen, live entertainment from big names in music and rides and attractions.

Everything strawberry related such as food, clothing and contests is open to all those who attend.

The Florida Strawberry Growers Association also takes part in the event, giving attendees the opportunity to learn how strawberries were grown in the past and how they are grown now.

The Plant City Lions Club also still continues to participate in the festival every year, organizing the Queen’s Scholarship Pageant.

Within Plant City, about 10,000 acres of land are used to plant strawberries annually. The city is also responsible for about 75% of midwinter strawberries in the U.S.

Hillsborough County is one of the nation’s largest agricultural counties, with 2,800 farms throughout the area.

Since its creation, the festival has only attained more popularity. The festival is now ranked among the top 40 fairs in North America.

This year’s strawberry celebration will take place between Thursday, March 2 to Sunday, March 12.

Check out the Florida Foodie podcast. You can find every episode in the media player below:

About the Author:

Ariadna, who attends UCF, joined in January.