March 02, 2004



Went this afternoon to see George Jones play the Florida Strawberry Festival . It was great to see the old country music legend play through a dozen or so of his hits. Having been weaned on Johnny Cash and hillbilly music by my grandmother as a kid (even though I hated it at the time) and having seen Willie Nelson in concert, I've always wanted to see Jones play.

Even though he's 73 now and his voice doesn't have the power it used to, he still put on a great show.

But the real show was in the audience and at the fairgrounds...


The audience was made up mostly of elderly fans. It seemed like there were a million of those mobility scooters in the audience. Like some sort of geriatric biker gang or something.


Did I mention that the audience was elderly? Thought so.

Not everyone in the audience qualified for a titanium hip. This woman, though, is going to need a new heart valve after she finishes this sausage dog loaded with onions.


The real attraction at the Florida Strawberry Festival is, obviously, strawberries. I ducked out of the concert for a moment to buy a strawberry shortcake that cost $2.50. There's a big debate about what tastes better: sponge cake or biscuit. I have to say that based on my tasting Tuesday, sponge cake wins hands down.

What fascinated me was the assembly line nature of the shortcake booth. The women there said they served 4,500 bowls on Monday - on a Monday!

To meet that kind of demand, you have to depend on high-tech equipment:


I was told that this is called a "creamer." It's essentially whipped topping hooked up to a CO2 cannister that shoots it through a plastic hose. I had images in my head of the shortcake people doing some heroic whippet shots to empty the cannister at the end of the day.


Did I mention there were a lot of mobility scooters there? Thought so.


I got a kick out of this woman. She obviously had some child watching responsibilities, but felt the need to call someone from the concert to let them know she was there.


She also felt the need to share the concert with whomever was on the other end of the line.

These kinds of conversations are why cellular phones were created.


The Jones show only lasted about an hour, but these folks had places to be and things to do. They couldn't be bothered with staying through the end of the last song. Very busy. Gotta go. People to see. Outta my way.

Still there were diehard fans craving autographs. I think that's Annie Wilson from Heart carrying the guitar case.

They all were hanging around waiting for Jones to materialize at his tour bus on the other side of that fence. Never happened. Still, you can't blame a guy for trying.

Speaking of which, don't you hate it when stereotypes prove to be true?


Did I mention the large number of elderly attendees? And that strawberry shortcake is the main attraction?


Sometimes, you just gotta make your own picnic bench.


Missed a spot there, big guy.


If, by chance, you didn't get enough to choke on at the festival, there's plenty to buy in tents outside the fairgrounds. Oh, and t-shirts were $1 each at the liquidation sale next to this fruit and vegetable stand. One pistachio-colored shirt featured the design a leafless bush with cats all over it. Underneath was one word: "PUSSYWILLOW."

Yep. Those shirts were a bargain.

On the other side of the tent was the B&E Bar-B-Q trailer. I think I know, based on what the pig looks like, what "B&E" stands for:


"Breaking & Entering."

Posted by Jeff at March 2, 2004 11:41 PM | TrackBack

Great story! I wanted to go to the festival this year but my wife has a very serious infection and is in the hospital. Your story was just like being there. Thanks.

Posted by: Gary at March 4, 2004 06:49 AM

Glad you enjoyed it!

Posted by: Jeff at March 4, 2004 02:02 PM

No-Show showed! Cool! Saw the lovely Emmylou at the Strawberry Fest years ago. But what about the pigs? Where are the racing pigs?!

Posted by: newsdesigner at March 5, 2004 04:40 AM

Wish I could have been there. Toss the Gibson dreadnaught in the back of the car and jam in the parking lot with some of the good old boys. A couple beers would be good too.

Posted by: Parkway Rest Stop at March 5, 2004 10:19 PM