The Florida Strawberry Festival has a storied history of attracting the top country crooners to the annual Plant City celebration, but each year organizers also try to throw in an act that appears to a vastly different audience. Take 2017’s schedule, for example, which features The Blues Brothers with Dan Aykroyd and Jim Belushi.
Here are some of our picks for most unusual Strawberry Festival acts of the past 10 years, listed alphabetically so no one’s feelings are hurt.
AIR SUPPLY (2012): You were all outta love and so lost without them! The sweater-wearing softies from Down Under brought their own brand of late ’70s and early ’80s FM-friendly music to the 2012 festival.
BOYZ II MEN (2015): Yes, the R&B group’s name is spelled correctly – well, as least it’s spelled properly. The Philly-bred quartet brought ’90s chart-toppers “End of the Road” and “I’ll Make Love to You” to audiences in 2015.
CHEAP TRICK (2016): Wow, the same year that Cheap Trick was inducted into the Rock Hall of Fame, they played the Strawberry Festival? No word on whether the “Dream Police” was hired to handle concert security.
KEVIN COSTNER (2015): Which Costner showed up? The guy who played Crash Davis in Bull Durham? Lt. John J. Dunbar in Dances with Wolves? The creepy guy from Waterworld? No, the actor/singer who fronts the country/rock band Modern West.
DEBBIE REYNOLDS (2010): Aww, the late singer/actress – beloved mother to Carrie Fisher – performed in 2010.
DEMI LOVATO (2012): The former child actress had just recovered from a series of personal struggles – a “nervous breakdown” she’d later call it – when she performed in front of an adoring crowd of screaming teens in 2012.
JESSICA SIMPSON (2009): What do you know Jessica best as? Singer? Mrs. Nick Lachey? Daisy Duke in the movie remake of The Dukes of Hazzard? The former reality-TV star may be focusing these days on other business ventures, but back in 2009 she was a big draw at the Strawberry Festival.
THE SMOTHERS BROTHERS (2008): You have GOT to be kidding. The Smothers Brothers? For those of us under the age of 50, it’s hard to remember that comedians/songsters Tom and Dick were once primetime TV stars in the 1960s who were subsequently fired when they embraced the counterculture politics of the late ’60s. “Flower Power” in Plant City – seems about right.
RICK SPRINGFIELD (2011): The uncrowned king of ’80s pop culture, Springfield dominated TV (on General Hospital) and radio (with more than a dozen Top 40 hits) during the decade. He’s still a big draw on the road today, so it’s no wonder the Strawberry Festival grabbed the guy who wanted Jessie’s Girl so badly.