You can almost taste it, right? That cool blue sensation that awakens the pallet this time of year. Spring is nearly upon us and with it, the bountiful harvest of Florida blueberries.
On April 22 and 23, Brooksville will celebrate Florida’s fastest growing specialty crop of edibles by hosting the Sixth Annual Florida Blueberry Festival.
Each spring, more than 60,000 visitors flood this quaint, historic city to immerse themselves in all things blueberry. This festival offers a uniquely eclectic combination of attractions, appealing to every age group, every demographic.
Two stages of live concerts, 250 vendors, an endless supply of blueberry-infused yumminess, and a Kids Zone dedicated to little ones will surely keep visitors moving through Brooksville’s beautiful tree line streets. And, splat in the middle of it all is an attraction that proved to be a highlight of last year’s festivities: a 1,000-foot water slide cascading down one of Brooksville’s mammoth hills.
“There really is something for everyone,” said Festival Director Michael Heard. “Every year, we build upon the biggest draws and add new features that make the festival even more exciting. It’s a great way to celebrate Florida’s blueberry bounty.”
As you step through the gate, the pies and jams and smoothies get the taste buds titillating. But save your appetite for the sizable food court anchored by a colossal helping of blueberry short cake. To work up your appetite, stroll through block after block of vendors peddling their wares of unusual crafts, techno and agricultural gadgets and a live blueberry plants.
Those who appreciate the allure of fine art will enjoy an impressive collection of paintings, sculptures and photos displayed beneath a canopy of Live Oaks during the two-day juried art show. Inside City Hall’s Art Gallery showcases some of Hernando County’s most talented artists.
Off to the side is the activity-filled Blueberry Patch Kids Zone which features a three-story rock wall, bungee acrobatics and a monster mural that kids can help colorize. But the true attraction to this year’s Zone is the Spring Skate where kids can take to the ice for free!
Then there is the continuous sound of music emanating throughout the venue. The Star Stage features a steady array of entertainment ranging from folk music, reggae to belly dancing.
Stop by the tasting pavilion hosted by Island Grove Winery and the Fish Hawk Spirits before heading to the concert band shell. Sessions there begin before noon and finish after sunset.
This year’s Festival pays tribute to the 70’s mega-band Foreigner and the ever-popular Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons. This is the 40th anniversary of Foreigner’s founding and tribute band, Head Games, will attempt to do them justice Saturday night, while the Frankie Valli tribute band, Let’s Hang On, takes the stage Sunday evening. The festival is easy to find since most of the state’s major highway’s lead to Brooksville at the crossroads of US 41 and State Road 50.
Saturday is typically the busiest day. If you enjoy a slower pace, Sunday’s event is for you. But, fair warning, the Fresh Blueberries and Blueberry Pies have been known to sell out before the concert’s Grand Finale!
Admission is free to children 12 and under, ages 13-17 are $5.00, ages 18 and up $10.00. Separate fees are collected for specialty attractions, including the Slide. All concerts are free with admission. For more information, visit the Festival website at www.floridablueberryfestival.org.