Berry Nice

Every year Florida pays homage to the strawberry at their annual Strawberry Festival in Plant City near Tampa.

We decided to go this year and went with another couple. I had spoken to a few people who recommended different things about the fair. Basically it’s a midway, food stalls, animal shows and vendors of all descriptions. New gel insoles anyone? It reminded me immediately of the CNE. Of course fairs are only great in good weather and Florida has that covered. Unlike the CNE however parking was $5 in designated lots and getting there was a breeze since it’s a small town. Entry to the fair was $10 each.

As we walked up to the gates (literally across the road from where we parked) we could smell the greasy aromas wafting around. I could sense a corn dog in my future. We entered the gates which were manned by friendly seniors as so many things in the area are (supply and demand). The first thing you see is a bright red information booth where more seniors cheerfully hand out maps and schedules. Armed with highlighters they point out where you are and where the show stoppers are.

We’re off. Within a few feet we are lured into a cooking show where Chef Charlie is peddling cookware while he tells corny jokes. Here’s one: where do cows go for entertainment? The moooo-vies! Groan. He tried hard to sell us a set of amazing lifetime guaranteed pots and pans. Nope. Sorry. Moving on. We would like to see the pig races. My guess is they were running from being turned into bacon …. groan. Charlie has rubbed off on me. In spite of the great map we could not find the pigs. But we did find: corn dogs. Yes please! It was delicious 😋

It was sheer luck that the corn dog booth was next to the dog trick area. So we wandered in. This demonstration was put on by a group of trainers who rescue dogs. Awww. They were adorable and super agile. It was an impressive show. We moseyed on to the trampoline demonstration. Here four young men were showing their bouncing acumen and their sense of humour. Their high flying show was fun to watch.

My friend had spotted a woven basket display and wanted to go back to look more closely. We ran by in hot pursuit of racing pigs earlier and never stopped to inspect. These hand woven and hand dyed baskets from Ghana are very unique and colourful. My friend buys two. And a hat. Now she’s ready for the deep fried cheesecake she spotted earlier. Anyone else? They agree to share and she comes to the table with an oozing plate of fried cheesecake topped with cherry and butterscotch sauces. They dig in. Their facial expressions says it all: nirvana.

We round out our culinary delights with a hand dipped glazed donut from Peacheys This was one of the recommendations and I can see why. The warm soft dough melted in your mouth. Yummy.

Our sense of direction was keen and we were able to exit the fair right at the car park. It was a fun few hours. But we had one more stop to make: Parkridges Farm Market (another recommendation) for their famous strawberry shakes. For $2.75 each we had large fresh strawberry shakes that were cheek-sucking thick and full of seeds. The perfect way to end a fun day.

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