PANAMA CITY BEACH – Strawberries were being eaten, crafts were being sold and children played in the bounce houses as the sounds of country music played in the background at the Panama City Beach Strawberry Festival inside the Pier Park Amphitheater Saturday.
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Shirley Lanier, who was helping sell strawberries, said the idea for the festival came about in an attempt to bring more “fun” the beach area.
“We sat down and thought about what we could do to make it more fun for people here in Panama City,” Lanier said. “My husband has worked with strawberries his whole life so we thought we would have a strawberry festival. And we want this to be an annual event.”
Lanier noted that besides the food there will also be many fun things for kids to do, from the rock climbing wall to extreme bungee jumping and even hay rides. The fun continues on Sunday.
“We’re also having fireworks at about 7:30 p.m.,” said Lanier.
Frank Exendine and his wife, Jackie, are originally from Missouri. They abandoned the ice and cold a few years ago for the beaches of Bay County and were enjoying themselves at the festival.
“Up there it was pretty bad,” said Frank Exendine, regarding Missouri. “They had 18 inches of snow.”
The Exendines smiled.
“We’re planning on having some strawberry shortcake before it’s all over with,” he said.
There were even a few classic cars on display at the festival.
Robert Beck of Lynn Haven brought his black-cherry burgundy 1940 Oldsmobile to be displayed.
“It’s a four-door sedan. The body is all original and all steel,” Beck said. “The drive train and chassis have all been updated.”
The Olds has all the bells and whistles, including power steering, power brakes and air-conditioning, Beck said.
“It’s not a closet queen, meaning it doesn’t sit in the garage,” Beck said. “I drive it.”
IF YOU GO
Festival gates open at 10 a.m. Sunday. At 10:30 a.m., the Miss Panama City Beach Strawberry Pageant begins. At 1 p.m. Suite Caroline performs and the Miss PCB Strawberry Awards are handed out beginning at about 1:30 p.m. Directly after Shawn Rader performs, the fireworks will begin. The festival is inside the Pier Park Amphitheater just west of Pier Park Drive. Gates close at 10 p.m. Admission is $10 for adults. Children under 42 inches inches are admitted free.