Strawberry Festival organizers spent over $600,000 on equipment like disinfecting doors and hand sanitizer stations.

PLANT CITY, Fla. (CW44 News At 10) – The annual Florida Strawberry Festival is now open to the public, but with the pandemic, it looks very different from previous years.

Strawberry Festival organizers spent over $600,000 on sanitizing equipment like disinfecting doors, in which you go inside and it uses UV light and mist in order to sanitize you through out the park.

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Festival visitor, Pat Voelker says “The weather is great, the food is great, the people are nice. Just great.”

Festival visitor, Tim Purcell says “It’s actually quite exciting and fun to do.”

Music, rides, and food fill the festival park. “We’ve been eating our way around, and so far, the strawberry shortcake has been phenomenal,” said Purcell.

The Florida Strawberry Festival is something people all over the country travel to, like Purcell did from New York. “We have a second home down here so we try to get out of the weather upstate and come down here for a few months,” said Purcell.

But the festival everyone is used to, isn’t the same. Strawberry Festival Chairman, Dub McGinnes, says “Hand-washing stations, one hundred or more, as well as sanitizing stations. We have masks available. We have social distance reminders.”

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Air disinfecting machines were put inside exhibits and vendors made adjustments.

Parkesdale Express employee, Kristen Hitchcock says “I don’t want anyone to get sick so I don’t mind it at all.”

Hitchcock works for Parkesdale Express which sells famous strawberry shortcakes. In recent years, people were able to make their own cakes at the festival, but this year that wasn’t possible. “We put up an assembly line and we were allowing people to see all the stuff that was going into their shortcakes, so it’s almost like you’re a part of it,” said Hitchcock.

While six feet separates groups and smiles are hidden behind masks, visitors say the excitement is still there. “In New York we had been quarantining, so to actually come out and be in public again and do things, it’s different,” said Purcell.

“To come together, to enjoy each other, to be healthy, to keep each other safe but to still be able to come out and do this. I mean this is pure fun,” said Hitchcock.

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The Strawberry Festival’s grand parade is on Monday March 8 and the festival will be open through March 14, 2021.