PLANT CITY, FLA.- — The Florida Strawberry Festival opened on Thursday with COVID-19 safety measures in place.
The 11-day event features free entertainment, rides, and attractions, and also youth livestock shows.
"It's just a fun time for the kids. They like going on all the different rides. It's nice because they have different size rides since their ages are different and my older kids always help out with the babies," said Laurel Cothron who lives in Plant City.
Vendors are set up throughout the festival grounds. People may check out the arts and crafts or participate in eating contests.
Families may enjoy strawberries, cotton candy, corn dogs, and fried Oreos.
"I wanted to bring my son. He's not yet three yet and he likes fair rides and the animals and just really excited. We love strawberries," said Cherish Swinson.
The festival invested more than $600,000 in COVID-19 safety measures. Signs around the fairgrounds remind people to keep a safe distance and wear a mask.
Air scrubbers have been added to all buildings.
"All of our vendors are supposed to be wearing masks at all times. They're supposed to sanitize frequently touched surfaces," said Paul Davis, Florida Strawberry Festival Board President.
"We have friendly, gentle reminders with people walking around with a sign please wear your mask. We have signage up. We have announcements so a lot of different things to help people remember to wear a mask."
The festival usually brings in major musical performers, but this year all headline entertainment has been canceled because of the pandemic.
"The first and the hardest decision we had to make this year was to cancel all the main stage entertainment. We have an 11,000 seat arena. We just couldn't find a way that we could keep people safe even in that arena," said Davis.
People may purchase tickets at the gate, online or at Publix.
"I promise you although we don't have our main stage entertainment. We have enough entertainment to keep people excited all day for the price of basically less than a movie," said Davis.
Gates open at 10 a.m. daily and close at 10 p.m.
The Florida Strawberry Festival is located at 303 Berryfest Place in Plant City.
For more information, visit flstrawberryfestival.com.