2018 Florida Strawberry Festival kicks off, promising 'new memories'

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The Florida Strawberry Festival kicks off Thursday, March 1 and promises tradition with some new additions to this year’s event.

The annual spring festival has been around since the 1930s to celebrate the strawberry, and will be held this year from March 1 to 11 at the Florida Strawberry Festival Grounds at 303 North Lemon Street. 

Gates are open from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. daily. Most festival parking options is $5 per car, but prices vary depending on the lots around the grounds. 

Tickets for adults -- ages 13 and up -- are $10, while tickets for children, ages 6-12, are $5. Children under the age of five can enter for free.

However, discounted admission tickets are available at participating Publix stores. Through March 11, nearly 300 stores in Charlotte, Collier, Desoto, Hernando, Highlands, Hillsborough, Lake, Lee, Manatee, Marion, Orange, Osceola, Pasco, Pinellas, Polk, Sarasota and Sumter Counties will be selling admission tickets, and several stores will offer discounted strawberry shortcake tickets.

The discounted admission tickets are $8 for adults and $4 for children ages 6 through 12. Children who are five or younger are admitted for free.

Publix will also host a “Publix Food and Fun Day” on Friday, March 2. If you bring a Publix brand non-perishable item to the festival on that day, you can receive $5 off the $30 ride wristband. Those items will be collected to donate to the United Food Bank of Plant City.

The festival's theme is "Building New Memories" and is debuting a big improvement: a 10,500-seat grandstand, and is engineered for good acoustic and much closer to the stage than the old cement bleachers built in 1950. There will be some big names in concert at the Strawberry Festival including Brad Paisley and Reba McEntire.

It’s been several years since the Paul Bunyan’s Lumberjack Show was at the Florida Strawberry Festival, the log-rolling, axe-throwing, comical family show will return.

There will be new food items, including the “Way Better Strawberry Milkshake,” and a new contest, “The Amish Donut Eating Contest,” which has been a popular food item for years.

For additional details on the festival, click over to their website.