It’s my first Strawberry Festival… and for those that don’t know it’s apparently a big deal for Plant City..
I’ve seen the signs on my way to Disney.. but this year I got to go.
First impression… it’s like a big fair right next to what looks like a high school stadium which is where the main concerts are held.
If you are interested and are in the area for the next one, the best way to get there is to take the exit off I4 to Forbes and follow the signs.
I took the advice of a work associate for the directions and my friends told me to purchase the strawberries as I’m leaving rather than having to carry the huge flat around everywhere I go.
They have a kids section of the fest which is at the main gate where are the kid-sized rides are and kid attractions like the pig races and the sea lion show, then there are food booths… holy heck are there food booths.
Mexican food, Gyros, turkey legs, fried onion rings, blooming onions, soft serve ice cream, deep fried cookies, deep fried coke, ribs,pork chops, sausages, burgers, corn dogs, french fries, boiled peanuts, kettle corn, funnel cakes and then there are strawberry flavored things; jams, jellies, preserves, ice cream, strawberry topped funnel cakes.. I’m sure I missed a few things but you get the idea..
It’s been a long time since I’ve walked into a fair and was literally assaulted by food smells, I love the smell of food but somehow kielbasa, funnel cakes and onions and fries.. but not together.. it’s kind of nauseous.
While we were waiting for our friends to get there we were approached by an survey taker asking questions about our opinion of the strawberry festival, how much we were going to spend (we said $30 but it was more..) and if we would come back.
The other half called it to the redneck DisneyWorld.
(this sign on one of the food vendor’s booths cracked me up)
I can see his point, it was only $10 for the tickets, there’s an extra charge for the rides of course and there are a few concerts for an extra charge but the most of the entertainment and shows are free with the admission price.
You get lots of loud music, cheap greasy food, carnival games where the prizes are big stuffed animals and there are local businesses there to promote their goods, some selling candy, fudge or jewelry and souvenirs..
I compare it to the flea market, it’s one of those rare moments where everyone from just about every walk of life comes together and there’s little to no violence.
Of course there was police presence, there generally always is at a gathering of that size but I was there from 1130am to 4pm on March 4 and there was no fights or anything.
The group I was with had gyros.. for those that don’t know it’s Greek with lamb meat, a wrap, a greek dressing, onions and cucumbers.
I was going to have it but decided to have my annual corn dog. It was good. The other half had cheese fries.
Most of the group had strawberry shortcakes in a cute little red and white booth.. the strawberries were ready and waiting to be dumped into a plastic bowl over your choice of a biscuit or cake and topped with whipped cream.
We watched the sea lion show, which was about 30 minutes long and talked about the difference between seals and sea lions as well as the importance of recycling.
The rest of the show the sea lions were showing off their talents, balancing a ball on their nose, dancing and ending with a conga line.
We left the fest with a huge bag of hand candy (the other half has a huge thing for jaw breakers and has been looking everywhere for some… he can’t seem to find any).
The total cost of the candy was $25.. it was $3.89 for a 1/2lb..
We also got 2 quart sized bags of boiled peanuts and we stopped as we were leaving Plant City to pick up a flat of strawberries for $8.
For those that don’t know what a flat of strawberries looks like I took pictures.. this is half the container and it was filled to the edge with strawberries.
and here’s what the box looked like when half was empty
and here’s the strawberries in the sink about 4 layers deep.
by the end of it all it was 8pm and I was dead tired, I thought I would have the energy to make strawberry muffins, but I was ready to crash… so I cut a few of them up and put some vanilla sugar on them and put them into containers to soak and the rest went straight into the freezer for later.
I couldn’t share the experience of the strawberry festival and not share some recipes..
Low fat Strawberry Banana Muffins
(modified from a Low Fat Banana bread recipe)
Prep 10 minutes
Baking time 45 minutes or 1 1/2 if making a loaf
1 cup of sugar
1/4 light butter
1 2/3 cup of ripe bananas (about 2 large, 3 medium)
1 cup of chopped strawberries
1/4 cup of fat free milk
1/4 cup of low fat sour cream
3 large egg whites
2 cups of flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon of cinnamon (optional)
1/2 tablespoon of honey (optional)
cooking spray or cupcake wrappers
Preheat oven to 350
In a large bowl, beat sugar & butter at medium speed with a mixer until well-blended. Add banana, strawberries, milk, sour cream, and egg whites, beat well. (Do not worry it will look really soupy it’s ok). In a medium bowl mix flour, salt and baking soda. Add flour mixture to other ingredients beat until blended.
Spoon batter into muffin pan bake for 20-25 minutes.
If using a loaf pan bake 35-40 minutes until toothpick comes out of the muffin clean.
I used to add orange juice to this for the extra kick, but stopped as it takes away from the strawberry flavor.
This is my basic recipe
1 cup of frozen (or fresh) strawberries
1/2 cup of water
1/2 of ice cubes
1 tablespoon of honey
Add ingredients, blend until smooth. Makes 2 servings or 1 1/2 adjust fruit amount for more or less and adjust ice amount for a more liquid or less liquid smoothie.
I make variations to this by adding blueberries or blackberries, bananas and kiwis.. whatever fruit you want to use I’m sure mango would taste good.. I’m just not a fan of mango.
Green Slime Smoothie
(Taken from http://allrecipes.com/recipe/green-slime-smoothie/detail.aspx)
- 2 cups spinach
- 2 cups frozen strawberries
- 1 banana
- 2 tablespoons honey
- 1/2 cup ice
- Place the spinach in the freezer until frozen, at least 1 hour.
- Combine the spinach, strawberries, banana, honey, and ice in a blender. Blend until smooth. Serve immediately.
Strawberry Cake Cookies
(Taken from http://allrecipes.com/Recipe/Strawberry-Cake-Cookies/Detail.aspx)
Original Recipe Yield 2 1/2 dozen
- 1 (18.25 ounce) package strawberry cake mix
- 2 eggs, beaten
- 1/2 cup chopped fresh strawberries
- 1 cup whipped cream
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Grease cookie sheets.
- In a medium bowl, mix together the cake mix, eggs and strawberries until well blended. Fold in the whipped cream until well blended. Drop by rounded spoonfuls onto the prepared cookie sheets.
- Bake for 8 to 10 minutes in the preheated oven. Allow cookies to cool on baking sheet for 5 minutes before removing to a wire rack to cool completely.