What’s big, juicy and ready for pickin’?
by Terri Bryce Reeves
Why it’s the 82nd annual Florida Strawberry
Festival, taking place March 2-12 at the
Festival Grounds, 303 N. Lemon St. in Plant City, where over three-quarters of the nation’s midwinter strawberries come from.
This year’s theme: “We’re Playing Your Song!”
“Yes, it highlights our entertainment,” said General Manager Paul Davis. “But most of all, it points to our focus of providing what our visitors like.”
Organizers have amassed a bumper crop of
country, classic country, Christian, rock and oldies to play on the Wish Farms Soundstage. Headliners include Willie Nelson, The Oak Ridge Boys, The Blues Brothers, Drifters, Platters, the Gatlin Brothers, Patti LaBelle, Rascal Flatts, King & Country and more.
The 11-day community event celebrating the strawberry harvest attracts nearly 500,000
visitors who come for the stellar entertainment, youth livestock shows, exhibits of commerce and its world-famous strawberry shortcake.
Festival-goers will find the red, heart-shaped fruits also offered in milkshakes, jams,
hamburgers, peanut brittle, cheesecakes, pizzas, cobblers, parfaits, crepes, lemonade, crème puffs and plenty of other concoctions.
Ever tried a Strawberry Sticky Pig? The folks at Polar Bear have combined homemade
strawberry ice cream with torched marshmallows, waffle pieces, fudge and candied bacon.
Add a donut and it’s a pig on wheels.
The statesman of classic country music is still on the road making music with his friends – at 83 years old.
Throughout the years, the octogenarian has made headlines for his outlaw country hits, his Farm Aid concerts, his troubles with the IRS and the launch of his cannabis company, Willie’s Reserve.
Nelson is an author, actor, activist and martial arts expert. In 2014, at age 81, he received his 5th degree black belt.
Most of all, Nelson is known for his great musical talents. Throughout his six-decade career and 200 plus albums, he has amassed nearly every conceivable musical award there is. In November 2015, the Library of Congress honored him with their Gershwin Prize for Popular Song for his contributions to popular music. He is the first country artist to receive the distinguished award. In December he was nominated for another Grammy.
If he wins, it’ll be his 12th.
In November, 1978, Jake and Elwood Blues (John Belushi and Dan Aykroyd) made their national television debut on Saturday Night Live with their breakthrough, high-energy rendition of Sam and Dave’s classic Soul Man. It was an overnight sensation that catapulted these two to the heights of stardom. Soul Man sparked a national summer tour, two platinum albums
and the landmark feature film, The Blues Brothers.
In 1982, Belushi tragically passed away, but the tradition continues with his younger brother Jim Belushi carrying on as Brother Zee. It’s a high-energy, authentic, rhythm- and-blues show band with a South Memphis accent and an East Texas kick.
Their mix of four-part harmony has spawned dozens of country hits and earned them Grammy, Dove, CMA, and ACM awards and garnered a host of other industry and fan accolades. Every time they step before an audience, the Oaks bring four decades of charted singles and 50 years of tradition to a stage show widely acknowledged as among the most exciting anywhere.