The Florida Strawberry Festival (aka, Strawberry Shortcake w/ a Side of Pickle)
Last week, Nico & I went to the 87th annual Florida Strawberry Festival in Plant City, Florida. Was it good? Was it great? How many deep fried foods were there? All your questions about the festival and our food-based thoughts (and our video) below!
About the Florida Strawberry Festival
The Florida Strawberry Festival is a late-winter foods and entertainment festival that was first held in 1930 in celebration of Florida’s rich Strawberry agriculture. Ever since its first year, this festival has been held in Plant City, Florida – a small Hillsborough county city about 25 miles east of Tampa.
This year’s festival started on March 2nd and runs until March 12th (this Sunday!), with gate opening at 10am and closing at 10pm. Parking was in abundance both on site and in the surrounding area – $5-$10 bucks is all you should need, but don’t fall for the $20 parking!
You can find your typical carnival fare here: music, exhibitors (selling cookware, jewelry, clothing, 30foot iPhone charging cables(!!), etc), and carnival games & rides. They also of course had a large cast of your favorite fried-food characters: oreos, pizzas-on-a-stick, and sweets galore. Most of them were strawberry-themed, and that is one of our favorite things about going to carnivals: the creativity of the foods. From self-serve Strawberry Short Cake to fun, creamy smoothies to Donut-bunned Burgers, you can find all the human creativity on display!
This was our second time going to this festival and this year we had a few desserts and also a few savory foods (including a mix of both – hello, Strawberry Short Cake Burger!). Have a scroll below to hear our thoughts and see pictures!
Amish Bakery Company’s ‘The Sweetheart’: this was a strawberry-filled doughnut drizzled with chocolate & topped with whipped cream. We also had a yummy pretzel here with free cheese sauce.
What-was-in-it: This thing was a true workout of art. You should definitely have a look at the YouTube video we did at the festival (at the bottom of the post) to see how they put it together. Video speaks a thousand words, but I’ll try: An original Amish Baking Company glazed doughnut with a load of fresh, a glazing of chocolate, a scoop of sliced strawberries, and a generous drizzling of chocolate glazing. A true feat of human ingenuity (and sweetness)!
How-did-it-taste: We really liked this. I (Travis) especially liked the doughnut, which was fluffy and not too sweet. Surprisingly, with all of the layers of the Sweetheart it didn’t feel too overwhelming. If you’re just wanting a light snack or something light, their original doughnut seemed like a perfect option too!
Quick bites (thoughts): Very good doughnut (not too sweet) and a nice use of fresh strawberries. Try and get them fresh out of the oven and give the (very good) pretzel a try too!
Price: The Sweet Heart – $9; Pretzel w/ free cheese – $4
Saratoga Chips w/ a bacon & cheese sauce: This was sort of like a those spiraled ‘chips-on-a-stick’ that you see at carnivals, but it was served in a basket and we upgraded to have a cheese sauce and bacon bits sprinkled on.
What-was-in-it: Fried potato chips with a cheese glaze & bacon bits. Nothing special, nothing bad.
How-did-it-taste: We got suckered into this because we had never tried it and it looked fun. The chips were not too crispy, which I think you need if you’re going to get something like this. Try and make sure there are not a bunch of them piled back there to ensure the’re fresh and crispy!
Quick bites (thoughts): Chips were good but could have been better if they were fresh. Bottle bacon bits = no bueno, pretty typical nacho cheese fare. Probably our least favorite of the day (should have put strawberries on it!)
A strawberry creme smoothie: This was Nico’s favorite of the day. I (Travis) thought the ice cream on top was a nice tough.
What-was-in-it: Strawberries, ice, cream of some sort (we didn’t ask/see), and a nice dollop of strawberry soft-serve on top.
How-did-it-taste: Nico loved this one, and I couldn’t disagree. It was especially refreshing on a hot, winter Florida day!
Quick bites (thoughts): Nice, refreshing smoothie with a touch of strawberry soft-serve on top. The booth was cute, too!
The Shortcake Burger!: This one was a lot of fun and the one we were most looking forward to. We picked it up from the burger stand to left of the main entrance, near the Chevrolet truck display.
What-was-in-it: Nicole decided to order this one fully-loaded! So, it had pickles, tomato, lettuce, & red onion – all on under a beef patty with white cheddar cheese and a couple of slices of bacon. This was comfortably sandwiched between two short cakes and topped with a syrupy-strawberry sauce and thick whip cream.
How-did-it-taste: We thought this was fun concept. I know, I know, that doesn’t sound like you should try it. But, you should! Just without the vegetables. We found that the tanginess of the pickles didn’t play nice with the sweetness of the strawberry and short cake. By themselves, every part of this burger was good. The patty was maybe a bit dry, but the seasoning was tasty. The bacon was crisp (who doesn’t love bacon?!), the red onion, lettuce & pickle added a freshness that every good burger needs. The short cake was moist
Quick bites (thoughts): Fun concept but the vegetables (especially the tangy pickle) didn’t play nice with the short cake & toppings. If we were to order it again, we would have probably just had the meat w/ the short cake. Nicole on our final thoughts: “You should try it.. but for once, do not order the vegetables!”
‘Wrap’ping up this post: Nico and I had a great time at the 87th annual Florida Strawberry Festival. If you’re passing through Central Florida or have a insatiable need for crates of strawberries, this the place to go for interesting food and fun times.
Feel free to check out our video for this week at the Festival!:
¹ ‘Sweetheart’ Doughnut – Tampa Bay Times: http://www.tampabay.com/news/amish-baking-co-cooks-up-success-at-the-florida-state-fair/2265088
² Saratoga Chips – Wikimedia: https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Saratoga_chips.jpg