Wednesday, May 17, 2017

The Florida Strawberry Festival

I flew out of Salt Lake City to Tampa, Florida on March 1st. I was so very happy to be back with my darling husband, to see sweet Baby Rachel again and her parents,  and to be back in the warm Florida Sunshine!  

The Florida Strawberry Festival is a 10 day long affair and it is the largest festival in the United States. It is a music festival that celebrates the end of the Strawberry season. The Redhead Express played 3 shows a day on the Publix Stage and the Walker Boys played two shows a day on the TruWhip Stage.
Now I want to tell you something you may find shocking. If you were a fan of the early 70's TV show, The Partridge Family, I want you to know that Shirley Jones lied to us. This traveling band/ music business is so much more work than they made it seem like. Five shows a day for ten days, 12 adults and three small children living in a motor home and tents, set up, take down, merchandise sales, baby sitting!!! It was exhausting, exhilarating, and so, so much fun!

Both bands would pack the house for their shows, and watching the people watch the bands was exciting, and an eye opener! 

I brought with me Alisa's birthday present from Cali. Not wanting to wait until her birthday on the 22nd, she and Rachel just had to open it.

"Comfortable pajamas! Just what I always wanted!"
 Rachel just wants the paper.

There was strawberry everything at this 10 day party, but the highlight for everyone is all of the strawberry shortcake booths. I think we probably had at least one strawberry shortcake to share each day. We had to find out which booth had the best. 

Rachel and Grandpa shared a lot of these desserts.

She is very good at sharing!

We spent a lot of time with little Rachel while her mom was onstage. She didn't call us Grandma and Grandpa, but had her own names for us. Darryl is "Dah-woh" and I am "Dindy". 

She loves her grandpa so much that even now, the first words out of her mouth when she phones or video calls me are "Where's Dah-woh?" Grandpa would take her on walks through the different exhibition halls. The queen and her court knew her after seeing her day after day and they all thought she was so cute.

We loved to take her through the tents and halls and look at all things Strawberry. All the local high school FHA clubs had a strawberry exhibit.

Darryl and I found a new favorite entertainer, Dennis Lee. If you ever have a chance to see his show don't miss it.

Part comedian, part Elvis impersonator, a wonderful singer and all Talent!

His shows were always full and his love for all  of his audience, the veterans, the elderly, the disabled, the children, makes him a favorite of the festival. He has been performing at this festival for 30 years and we were blessed to see his 1,000th Strawberry Festival performance!

The nice thing about this 'vagabond life' I lead is that I get to visit with old friends from school. My dear friend and gymnastics teammate, Susan Rose lives about 45 minutes away and I was grateful that she would take the time to come and see me.

It was so much fun to visit and catch up on life since high school. I introduced her not only to the Redhead Express and the Walker Boys, but to the Strawberry Festival! Isn't it funny how we sometimes never know what is right in our own backyard? (Metaphorically speaking)

We realized that we had not seen each other since my wedding reception in July of 1976. That's a long, long time. Hopefully it won't be that long until the next visit.

Just some cute photos of our little girl having fun at the 'Green Room' trailer they provided for the band. 

She would let me fix her hair in ponytails and pigtails each morning.

On the last day of the show the entire Redhead Express family paid tribute to Dennis Lee by wearing his T-shirts during their performances. Dennis was so surprised. We were just as surprised when his band came out and they were all sporting Redhead Express T-shirts. 

Grandma Cindy, or Dindy as Rachel would call me, decided the last day of the festival was a good time to take the three little ones to get their faces painted. Cody held Rachel and I can't believe she was so still. And I just want to tell you, this face painting artist is fast at her work!

Our beautiful little strawberry princess!

Hyrum and Ryan decided they needed to be "Dwagons". They spent the rest of the day roaring at everyone.

Of course face painting doesn't last forever, especially after a nap and some food.

This being a music festival they had entertainment and bands playing all day and all night until 10:00 p.m. everyday. They had 5 stage venues and the grandstand concert stage with probably over 100 performers and bands in all. It was great!

The day after the festival came and it was time for Darryl and I to leave the road life and get back to our real life of Dome building. Little miss Rachel did not want her "Dah-woh" to leave and was quite sad about it.

We were a little sad too, but as we packed all of our belongings back in the mini-van we cheered up, because we know..... 

It's time for a new adventure together! 

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