PLANT CITY, Fla. (WFLA) — The freedom bell above the sample strawberry field rang so much during last year’s Florida Strawberry Festival they had to replace it. Festival organizers are hoping to have to do that again this time around.

“My favorite part of the festival isn’t the food or the rides,” said Kyle Robinson. “It’s really a reunion for our town and to come out here and see family and friends that perhaps we haven’t seen since last Strawberry Festival.”

With just hours to go until the 88th annual festival, president Kyle Robinson is hoping to get more than the 543,000 people that stepped foot on the midway last year.

“We always have strawberry pie, strawberry pizza, but of course, the fan favorite, strawberry shortcake,” Robinson said. “We sell over 250,000 strawberry shortcakes each year.”

Robinson said the two rides that had issues at the state fair last month will not be at this festival — they use a different ride and entertainment vendor.

“I asked them to come to the office, they called the state fair, the owner of those rides, and we got a description of what occurred at those rides,” Robinson explained. “And no, they’re not going to be at this festival.”

There will be a new ride, however — a 15-story tall ferris wheel with 400,000 LEDs that will light up in the shape of a strawberry.

Robinson said there will also be more than 100 Hillsborough County deputies out 24 hours a day to keep people safe.

“We’re also meant to be an ambassador for the festival and make sure that as many people come,” said Kennedie Clinton. “Because I know we all have great experiences at the festival and we want as many people to experience those as well.”

Clinton is the festival queen this year — she and the court got to test the ferris wheel.

“It was absolutely amazing,” Clinton explained. “The view is unbeatable, especially at night. It’s gorgeous looking over the entire festival, all lit up. I can’t wait for it to start.”

Also, new this year is Special Smiles Day on March 3. From 9 a.m. to 12 p.m., there won’t be any crazy sounds, music or lights for those who are sensitive. The festival is giving anyone with special needs — plus one guest — free admission, free parking, and a $10 food voucher. If you’d like to learn more about the festival and plan your day you can do so here.