There's more to celebrate at local blueberry festivals
PLANT CITY -
Warm weather brought a huge blueberry crop early to Keel & Curley Winery.
That means there is more to celebrate Friday and Saturday at the winery's 6th Annual Tampa Bay Blueberry Festival on Thonotosassa Road.
More than 6,000 people attended last year's event, which features live music, 100 art and crafts vendors, cooking demonstrations, a blueberry pie contest and face painting and games for children.
The Keel family began growing blueberries in 1995 on 25 acres. In 2003, they began making blueberry wines. The winery now produces 350,000 bottles of wine every year.
Jenna Tessier, the winery's events coordinator and marketing manager, said the 15,000 pounds of fruit on blueberry bushes this year will be ready for u-pick by festival attendees. For $4 per pound, the festival will provide all the necessary picking tools, including containers to take the berries home.
Keel and Curley Winemaker Jared Gilbert will give a seminar on making blueberry wine as well as tips for pairing it with food.
Farm manager Ryan Keel will discuss blueberry farming and offer tips on growing the fruit at home.
And, since this is a winery, there will be tastings of Keel & Curley's varietals. Visitors can purchase “blueberry bucks” that can then be used at the festival's bars anad wine stations.
Pasco County also is celebrating the blueberry harvest with the “Blueberry Jerry Jamboree,” a festival today through Sunday at the Rotary Pavilion in Shady Hills.
The event includes food concessions, vendors and live entertainment from cloggers to puppet shows to a concert by Adrian Ray at 6 p.m. tonight; There also will be blueberry pancake breakfasts on Saturday and Sunday.
Tampa Bay Blueberry Festival: 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. Saturday; 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Sunday; Keel & Curley Winery, 5202 W. Thonotosassa Road, Plant City; free admission, $5 parking; keelandcurleywinery.com/blueberryfestival/
Pasco County Blueberry Festival: 4 to 9 p.m. today, 8 a.m. to 9 p.m. Saturday and 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Sunday; Rotary Pavilion, 15325 Alric Pottberg Road, Shady Hills; free admission, $5 parking; www.pascoblueberryfestival.com