Blueberry Festival  debuts in Kissimmee

Blueberry bush.

The Official Florida Blueberry Festival is celebrating its first year in Kissimmee this weekend at the Formosa Garden’s Event Center off U.S. Highway 192.

The event, which started Thursday, promises live music, wine and beer gardens, an art show, food vendors, family activities and of course – plenty of fresh blueberries.

Festival organizers think that moving the event to Kissimmee and extending it from two to four days will help improve attendance and grow the event.

Plant City-based Wish Farms is the official grower sponsor of the festival and will offer fresh fruit by the pint, the flat and more than 1,000. There will also be blueberry pies and blueberry plants for sale so gardeners can grow their own.

”This is a celebration of local blueberries, and having support from a substantial grower like Wish Farms, is really going to take our event to the next level,” said Festival President Michael Heard in a press release.  

The Florida Blueberry Festival began in 2010 to bring recognition to the state blueberry industry and to give funding to local civic groups, according to the event’s website. For seven years, the festival was hosted in the downtown streets of Brooksville, about an hour-and-a-half northwest of Kissimmee.

The Brooksville City Council approved an agreement with the nonprofit that runs the festival in February 2017 for a $1-a-year lease at McKethan Park. But before the agreement was signed four months later, the festival’s board of directors sent a letter to council stating it was suspending the event, according to the Tampa Bay Times and other media reports.

The festival’s website states that the downtown location limited the event physically and proved to be too cost prohibitive, hence the new venue change to Kissimmee.

The event takes place over 10 acres at Formosa Gardens Event Center and will feature solid surface walkways, underground utilities and overhead lighting.

Not all the originally-planned infrastructure will be in place by this weekend, but Heard said she thinks it’s a good start for the event’s first year in Kissimmee.

The site will accommodate exhibitor booth spaces, including retail, information, fire arts and crafts exhibitors, as well as a juried art show with a $6,000 cash prize.

There’s also a Blueberry Patch Kids Zone featuring outdoor inflatable bouncers, bungee jumping, rock climbing and other activities for children.

Tickets are $10 and the event will be located at the Formosa Garden’s Event Center at 3050 Formosa Garden Blvd. in Kissimmee.

Gates open Saturday from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. on Saturday and 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Sunday.

For more information, visit www.florida blueberry festival.com.

Here are some interesting activities to check out at the Blueberry Festival on Saturday and Sunday.

• On Saturday at 2 p.m., a life-size “Dumbo” will take to the skies to promote the new live-action remake of the classic film. Dumbo is set to measure 5-feet-5-inches long, with a 3-foot-8-inch tall and a 10-foot ear-span and he’s said to be able to fly up to 30 miles per hour.

• The Butterfly Experience is a 12 by 20-foot screened-in enclosure filled with butterflies for visitors to see and explore. It goes on all day.

• There will be six live music performances taking place Saturday from 11 a.m. to 9:30 p.m. on the main music stage, as well as four acts on Sunday from 11 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.

• There’s also live street performers including an interactive juggler, a magician and a balloon artist.