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Top 5 Insider Tips for Enjoying the Florida Strawberry Festival

Headed to the Florida Strawberry Festival in Plant City? We have the scoop on parking, concert seats, the best places to buy berries and the most important question of all: shortcake or biscuit?

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St. Clement Strawberry Shortcake
The St. Clement strawberry shortcake stand is a festival favorite. Facebook via St. Clement

Planning to attend the Florida Strawberry Festival in Plant City but looking for ways to enjoy it like the locals do? Here are five tips from longtime fans of the Strawberry Festival.

PARKING CAN BE A CHALLENGE: Unlike Disney World or even the Florida State Fair, the official parking lots at the Florida Strawberry Festival are just a tad bit small. You can find spots in the Blue, Gray and Red parking lots on Ritter Street, off of Highway 92 or Highway 574. But you might be better off finding spaces elsewhere. Churches and schools near the festival grounds charge small fees (which grow as you get closer to the festival gates) for cars to park.

BUY YOUR BERRIES OUTSIDE: Buying a flat of strawberries is a festival tradition, and many visitors will shell out for the prettiest berries they find at the festival. However, you can save money by purchasing them from local vendors and farmers outside the festival. Same tasty strawberries, just a lower price. And yes, a flat of strawberries is quite big, but you’ll want to share with family and friends, so it’s worth it. (Plus, strawberries freeze well.)

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THE CONCERTS ARE FREE, BUT …: There is free seating in the grandstands for music concerts at the festival, available on a first-come, first-served basis. You can save yourself the hassle by purchasing reserved seating tickets. The bigger acts perform on weekends, but they also draw the biggest crowds. Look at the weekday entertainment schedule for less-crowded shows. If you’re not into music, at least stick around for the free shows all over the festival grounds. Our personal favorite? Robinson’s Racing Pigs and Paddling Porkers.

RELATED: 10 Unusual Musical Acts that Played the Florida Strawberry Festival

SAVE THE MIDWAY FOR THE STATE FAIR: Yes, the Florida Strawberry Festival has a ride midway, but it’s not really the main attraction. If you’re a fan of midway rides, wait until next February and hit the Florida State Fair in Tampa. Instead, spend your time at the livestock exhibits, where students in Hillsborough County schools exhibit their prize four-legged (and two-legged) friends. But for your health and safety, wash your hands any time you pet the animals. Wash stations are available throughout the festival grounds.

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THE SHORTCAKE: If you love strawberries, then come hungry. Everything you can imagine that’s made with strawberries is here for purchase, including the famous strawberry shortcake. Longtime fans of the festival will tell you that THE place for your shortcake is the St. Clement “Make Your” Strawberry Shortcake stand. And hey, if you prefer your strawberries and whipped cream served on a biscuit instead of shortcake, do it! It’s all about the berries here. Well, and the whipped cream.

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