Get a Bird’s Eye View of All the Entertainment and Pomp That Will be Putting the Spotlight on Florida’s Little Blue Dynamos

PLUMP, SWEET, and delicious— Florida blueberries are a tasty treat unto themselves. If strawberries, loquats, and swamp cabbage can get their own festivals, well, it’s only right that blueberries should also be celebrated with all the entertainment and pomp that only a festival can bring. The delightful little bursts of flavor have earned their place in the sun. The city of Brooksville agrees, and since 2011 has been hosting the annual Florida Blueberry Festival.

The Florida Blueberry Festival is an excellent opportunity to spread the word that the Sunshine State has great blueberries, and that they are only available for a short period. Florida blueberries have the unique distinction of being the only blueberries grown in the USA during the months of March and April, with a season that finishes strong in May. It used to be a window of time in which blueberries weren’t commercially available, but researchers at the University of Florida were able to cross the wild, gritty blueberries that grew in Florida with sweeter, juicier varieties from up north in the 1970s, and the results have been a thriving industry here ever since.

The festival draws some big-name sponsors, like Duke Energy, Wal-Mart, and Spectrum, plus about 250 vendors. Festival Coor-dinator Michael Heard is excited about this year’s festival. “The Florida Blueberry Festival is a family event,” she says. “There is something for everyone.” There are entertaining shows, lively exhibits, fun activities, and of course plenty of blueberry treats— blueberry wine, blueberry honey, blueberry preserves, blueberry shortcake, and so much more.

This year, Heard is excited to announce the inclusion of The Urban Slide, which is a 1,000-foot water slide for attendees to cool off on. This popular attraction is sure to draw a crowd! Kids will have plenty of inflatables to enjoy, plus a free ice skating rink sponsored by Oak Hill Hospital Pediatric Emergency Care Clinic, Suncoast OB/GYN – All Women’s Midwifery & Healthcare, and Nature Coast Primary Care.

There will be live entertainment throughout the event provided by local performers on two stages. Some of the most notable acts include a Foreigner tribute band, Head Games, plus a Frankie Valli tribute band called Let’s Hang On. There will also be Celtic music, gospel music, and dance performances, and other bands as well. It’s sure to be a fun-filled weekend that will appeal to a wide variety of tastes.

The two-day event will draw many people to Brooksville, starting with the six-day Brush with the Blues. This annual plein air art event takes place April 8-14, preceding the Florida Blueberry Festival. Artists from all over will pour into Hernando County to paint the many scenic and cultural points that make this area so delightful. The work will then be exhibited during the Florida Blueberry Festival, and the award ceremony will be held on Sunday, April 23. This is going to be an excellent showcase of the beautiful sites of Hernando County.

The Florida Blueberry Festival will be held Saturday, April 22, 10 a.m. to 8 p.m., and Sunday, April 23, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Admission is $10 for adults, $5 for children 13-17, and kids under 12 get in free. It’s a great way to bring people to the table for Florida blueberries.

CREDIT by TERESA SCHIFFER