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by Dana Newsome Strawberries the sweetest this side of heaven, as the locals claim, will be the highlight of the weekend April 17-18 in the small town of Starke, Florida. Located in the northeast corner of the state, Starke hosts the 12th Annual Bradford County Strawberry Festival each year. With a standing population of 5,700, the area Chamber of Commerce expects the rural community to welcome more than 10,000 weekend guests this year. Strawberries were first grown in Bradford County in the late 1800s and flourished, while orange groves perished in the "Big Freeze" of 1895 and the cotton industry was destroyed by the boll weevil 20 years later. Crops of the berry have slowly diminished over the years due to the rise of cheaper, imported produce, but several families continue to grow strawberries in Bradford County and showcase them each year in April. The Strawberry Festival hosts local artists, craftsmen and vendors along historic Main Street in downtown Starke. Visitors and locals can visit booths for shopping, enjoy family activities, listen to live music and, of course, partake in the local strawberries. Covered in chocolate, included in shortcake and fresh from the fields, the county's sweet strawberries are the main attraction. Local

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