This was the 20th anniversary of the festival and crowds came from all over, to get their strawberries. One berry farmer told me they sold just yesterday, roughly 200-thousand of them.
The Starke strawberry festival draws huge crowds each year, and the reason? because these aren’t just regular everyday strawberries.
Laural Norman is the wife of a strawberry farmer and she explained “We grow specific varieties here we’ve been growing them here for generations, its been named on our telegraph sweetest strawberries this side of heaven and its true. We don’t know why, we don’t know if its something in the ground, I have to say my husband has a lot to do with that.”
Chamber of Commerce President and event organizer Pam Whittle described how a berry you might find in the supermarket is different from a Starke berry.”A shipping berry is a firmer berry, its still sweet but its very firm and it has a longer shelf life. Ours are sweeter and tender and so therefore you have to do something with them and they’ve got about a 3 day life and then you’ve got to make some shortcake or jelly or something.”
Hayden Smith has lived in Starke is whole life and has been going to the festival as long as he can remember. “They sell out really quick and I think he first day they sold a thousand plats of strawberries, I believe I think so yeah.”
This weekend is something Starke natives look forward to each year.
Cody Tillman has also attended the festival since he was a youngster and described how its changed since his early memories of it. “Way bigger than it used to be when I was a little kid I hardly remember seeing as many people as I do now. And now its a bunch of more food trucks, bunch more stuff for the kids.”
Norman said “We started and we only had half the street at some point, the first part for the first couple of years and its grown and grown. People drive from South Florida from Georgia, even Alabama its just a large festival and has gotten a great name.”
So large, Whittle says due to the overwhelming community interest, it’s hard to find space for everyone
“Each year we have more and more vendors which is a good problem to have but its a situation we’re going to have to be looking at. We’ve run out of street! So its a good problem but we’re going to be looking at that for future growth and things we can do to improve it.”