Huge turnout expected at the 10th Annual Blueberry Festival in Plant City

15K people expected Saturday and Sunday
Posted at 7:10 PM, Apr 21, 2017
and last updated 2017-04-21 19:29:40-04

In a town known for the big red fruit, there's a new berry on the block.

"We are nothing like the strawberry industry yet, but who knows," said Joe Keel, owner of Keel and Curly Winery in Plant City. "We started with blueberry wine and that's still our signature."

10 years ago he started the Annual Blueberry Festival, and like his crop, it's grown bigger every year.

"This year we're expecting tomorrow and Sunday, about 15 thousand," he said.

That's 15 thousand people picking berries in his fields.

"Did he ever think it would get this big?" anchor Paul LaGrone asked. 

"No, to be honest not really, it started with just an interest in blueberries and grew from there," he said.

Plant city is a strawberry town, but the blueberry industry is rising in Florida. So much so the state is now competing with the countries top producers like Michigan and New Jersey.

And ironically the success is driven by an agricultural tragedy: Citrus Greening.

"A lot of citrus farmers have lost their trees and cleared them and planted blueberries," said Keel.

Citrus greening may have wiped out orange groves, but it sowed the seeds for "little blue" to blossom.