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Contents Table of

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FESTIVAL IN REVIEW

BY CIERRA CRAFT From delicious foods to free entertainment, there is something for everyone at the Florida Strawberry Festival. Take a look at the winners of agricultural contests and Plant City’s youngest residents take the spotlight in the Baby Contest and Baby Parade.

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2020 READERS’ CHOICE AWARD WINNERS ANNOUNCED BY CIERRA CRAFT It is our honor to present the 54 winners of the 2020 Readers’ Choice Awards. Learn more about each of these businesses and hear from the owners how they built their small business from the ground up.

81

THE GAMA FAMILY

BY CIERRA CRAFT Mi Casa Mexican Restaurant received the 2020 Readers’ Choice Award for Best Mexican Cuisine. Meet the family behind this successful Tex-Mex eatery and discover how the desire to provide for their family led to prosperous four businesses over the past 33 years.


FOCUS PLANT CITY

focusplantcity.com / Issue 19-03 / March 2020

90

BUSINESS: BRICK CITY BRICKS

120

DINING: THE CORNER STORE

BY CIERRA CRAFT

BY CIERRA CRAFT

Brick by brick, Greg Williams’ love for LEGO® flourished from playsets with his grandkids to a full time business. Learn more about Williams and how his business, Brick City Bricks, is revolutionizing historic downtown with a niche retail space and community events.

The Corner Store is renowned for its soups, salads, and sandwiches, using unprocessed, sustainable foods. With made-from-scratch fare and simple decor, The Corner Store welcomes you to come in for delicious eats surrounded by friends and family.

PUBLISHER

Mike Floyd

MANAGING EDITOR

Cierra Craft

ACCOUNT MANAGER

ART DIRECTOR

OFFICE MANAGER

DISTRIBUTION

mikef@floydpublications.com

cierra@floydpublications.com

Chandler Workman

chandler@floydpublications.com

Anthony Sassano

asassano@floydpublications.com

Candy Owens

cowens@floydpublications.com

Tony DeVane

STAFF WRITERS

Angela Ardrey Anthony Bolesta Barbara Routen Cheryl Johnston Sherrie Mueller Emily Topper

CONTRIBUTORS

Candy Owens Heather Davis Gil Gott Natalie Sweet

Got a story idea? Looking to advertise in Focus? Contact us for more information. Floyd Publications, Inc. 702 W. Dr. MLK Jr. Blvd.Plant City, FL 33563 Office 813.707.8783 Standards of accuracy: The goal of the writers at FOCUS Magazine is to provide heart-warming stories that are accurate from the start. Being human, however, we sometimes make mistakes. Please forgive us. So if you notice anything that is incorrect, then please do not hesitate to contact the editorial department and inform it about the fact error. To do so, call (813) 7078783 or e-mail editorial@floydpublications.com. The staff will fix the error in a timely manner. FOCUS Magazine is published monthly and is available through local Plant City businesses, restaurants and many local venues. Advertisers warrant and represent the descriptions of their products advertised are true in all respects. Focus Magazine assumes no responsibility for claims made by advertisers. All letters and their contents sent to Focus Magazine become the sole property of Floyd Publications, Inc and may be reproduced thereof. All views expressed in all articles are those of the authors and not necessarily those of Floyd Publications, Inc. Use or duplication of material used in this publication is prohibited without approved written consent from Floyd Publications, Inc.

www.focusplantcity.com

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UBLISHE From The

Publisher

Last month, we celebrated our 19th Anniversary at Keel and Curley Winery. Thank you to those who attended and congratulations to the winners of our 2020 Readers’ Choice Awards. This month’s issue is dedicated to those winners, as we showcase the best of the best in our community. We ask that our readers continue to support these small businesses with their patronage and congratulations each of the 54 businesses for this incredible honor.

ANOTHER YEAR OF MEMORIES

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It’s hard to believe that the 2020 Florida Strawberry Festival has come and gone, but our community made memories to last a lifetime. Be sure to check out our 2020 Festival in Review, where we look back at some of the biggest moments of the 11-day event.

I would also like to invite you all to check out our Facebook page to view our Festival photo galleries. Thank you to Ali Sobh of Hungry Howie’s Plant City for sponsoring our Festival photography this year, we appreciate your support and commend your commitment to the community. As we transition into Spring, our team is looking forward to another year of creativity and bringing you the stories that matter the most. Please send in your story ideas to editor Cierra Craft at 813.707.8783 or at cierra@floydpublications. com

Warmest Regards, Mike Floyd


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JOIn Us at PCCOG! Bounce Houses Food Trucks Face Painting & Balloons Mini Petting Zoo

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Community

FOCUS

CHECK IN WITH PLANT CITY St. Luke’s hosts 5th Annual Educator’s Luncheon Future Fair Seeks Businesses Looking to Hire

Photo courtesy of Deanna Hurley Photography

Main Street announces three new Evers Street businesses Three new businesses will soon call South Evers Street home in 2020. Plant City Main Street said the businesses have officially signed on to opening their businesses in the historic downtown district. The Tipsy Bookworm- This used bookstore will invite book-lovers to browse books while enjoying their favorite beer or glass of wine. Old-Fashioned Ice Cream ParlorOwners Cameron Johnson and Jesse Parrott will offer ice cream, specialized soft drinks and popsicles. Three Hands Mead- Plant City is eager to try mead, a fermented alcoholic honey beverage. The taproom will offer drinks by the glass and bottles will be available for purchase. “I think these businesses are businesses we’ve been scouting for,” said Plant City Main Street Executive Director Jerilyn Rumbarger. “They’re young entrepreneurs and we passed the alcohol ordinance to allow smaller businesses to serve beer and wine in a smaller space and so, it’s good to see that the amended ordinance has opened the door for other businesses. It will bring more foot traffic to downtown, especially Evers Street.” PAGE

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Tigers & Tiaras crowns 2020 Queen Joy Joyce On February 15, Tomlin Middle School held its 3rd Annual Tigers and Tiaras pageant. The pageant is open to students in all grade levels and promotes stage presence, public speaking and confidence. The pageant was created in 2018 as a production for the school’s yearbook team. Giselle Guiterrez provided entertainment during intermission, the young singersongwriter an alumna of Tomlin Middle School. Deanna Hurley Photography captured memories of the pageant throughout the evening. “New this year, the winners of Tigers and Tiaras will represent the community at a number of events throughout the year, much like the Festival’s Royalty and the Junior Woman’s Club Little Miss Plant City winners,” said Donelle Casselman, Tomlin Middle School Yearbook Advisor. The top 10 contestants were asked how they spread joy throughout campus, with many contestants noting spreading kindness and caring for others. This year, Joy Joyce was named Queen with Makinley Jensen and Larkin Baxter serving as first and second runner-up, respectively. Queen Joy made an appearance in the Strawberry Youth Parade on Saturday, February 29.

Businesses looking for employees may sign up by March 27 to participate in the Future Fair, community job fairs presented by the Future Career Academy, Hillsborough County Public Schools, and Workforce Development Partners Corp. The Future Career Academy’s Future Fair offers thriving businesses and industries a place where recruiters can meet and talk with hundreds of motivated, prepared graduating seniors from area high schools who are excited to become part of a dynamic workforce. Non-college-bound, job-seeking high school seniors complete the Future Career Academy’s integrated curriculum, which is focused on workforce development. They learn about local industries via business field trips and informational videos. They are taught financial literacy, resume and interview preparation, and other career-related content with real-world application. At the Future Fair, they demonstrate their readiness to employers in need of hardworking talent. The Future Career Academy is housed in nine Hillsborough County high schools, so there will be four community Future Fairs: • Brandon Future Career Academy hiring event • East Tampa Future Career Academy hiring event • Plant City Future Career Academy hiring event • South Hillsborough Future Career Academy hiring event Details about locations, dates and times are available at www. thefuturecareeracademy.com. Levels of sponsorship vary from $500 for a job fair table to $50,000 for a job fair table and many other benefits that include prime, year-long, Hillsborough County-wide recognition. For complete details, click on “Sponsor” at www. thefuturecareeracademy.com.

On February 16th, Pastor Carl McKay held the 5th annual Educator’s Luncheon at St. Luke’s Independent Church on Laura St. The event recognized retired and professional African American athletes who originated from the Plant City community as part of a celebration of Black History Month. “Since the church is the cornerstone of the community, I wanted to highlight the individuals who have made a difference in and out of our community. Everyone knows George Washington Carver and Rosa Parks, but no one really knows what African Americans came out of our community to become successful athletes that contributed to society on and off the field. I want them to know they’re appreciated and seen for their efforts”, said Pastor McKay. St. Luke’s hosted around 40 people in the church’s sanctuary, with a traditional church service taking place. The service started with prayer and singing, followed by Pastor McKay preaching from the book of Revelations and finishing with the plaques being distributed to the honorees. Athletes who went on to play college and professional baseball and football were recognized, and they played for teams such as Mississippi State, University of Florida, Tampa Bay Rays and Boston Red Sox. Some work with charities while others coach since retiring as players. Athletes such as Wayne Ward, Gerold Dickens, Billy Jackson and Arthur Cox were given plaques as a symbol of gratitude for their contributions to the African American community and Plant City. After the plaques were awarded, to-go boxes of fried chicken, rice, baked mac-n-cheese, green beans, and bread pudding were given out to church members and guests, with the goal of everyone going home with a hot meal. Pastor McKay stated, “Who will do it if we don’t? I’m going to keep doing this event every year to make sure these athlete’s hard work and long hours of service are recognized.”


Plant City Community Chorale to host Hope Awakes! March 28 On Saturday, March 28, Plant City Community Chorale will present Hope Awakes! “Just as Spring rekindled a new beginning in nature, so does music work to awaken a sense of promise in all of us,” the group posted on their Facebook page. The one-hour concert will be held at Nativity Catholic Church’s Chapel, located at 705 E. Brandon Blvd. The Chorale, under the direction of Claudia Bolaño Becerra, will perform selections from several genres, including spirituals to lively Africanstyled numbers. Tickets are available at www.pccchorale.org or by calling 813.965.7213. Tickets can be purchased at Walden Lake Car Wash. Advanced tickets are $12.00, $15 for adults, $10 for children under 12 and any student with a student ID.

Dean’s Ride Rescheduled for May 9 Dean’s Ride, a cycling event hosted by the Plant City YMCA, has been rescheduled to May 9 at 7:30am at Hillsborough Community College. The event was named in honor of Dean Snyder, an active supporter of the Plant City Family YMCA, who passed away in 2013. In his honor, the Y began Dean’s Ride. The event consists of 4 cycling distances: 62-Mile Metric Century; 46-Mile Half-Century; 39-Mile Half-Centric Century; and 19- Mile Quarter Metric Century. This year’s event will feature new routes from previous years and participants will be given a commemorative short sleeve t-shirt. Register by April 12, 2020 at registerdeansride.com.

Starr Creations, Blackneck Adventures team up to design FL License Plate

City Unveils Games in McCall Park Giant chess games aren’t just for Harry Potter anymore. In addition to fresh landscaping and new light fixtures, the City of Plant City has also added life-size games for McCall Park patrons to enjoy in the heart of Historic Downtown. The additions come along with the City of Plant City’s Downtown Vision Plan, and the future direction of the City Commission. “We wanted to bring elements of fun and provide activity spaces in the park to promote more traffic and use of this amazing facility in our beautiful downtown,” City Manager Bill McDaniel said. “Public reaction has been very positive and is best represented by the fact that we are seeing people make frequent use of the new game and activity centers.” That includes McDaniel, who said his personal favorites are the chess sets and ring toss games. McCall Park improvements aren’t the only new highlights Plant City residents have seen lately. With downtown activity increasing thanks to strong local businesses and downtown events like the monthly food truck rallies and the Strawberry Classic Cruise-In, three new businesses are also flocking to the epicenter of town later in 2020. The growth is right on track with the vision city leaders have for the future. “We hope more and more residents and visitors will take time to visit McCall Park, play the games, stroll downtown and visit our local merchants,” McDaniel said.

On March 13, Starr Creations announced that designer Jesse Starr and Mike Goodwine, Charter Captain of Blackneck Adventures, have teamed up to design a Florida State License Plate. The Florida Legislature passed H.B. 1135, a bill containing the Coastal Conservation Association license plate. Funds received from this specialty plate will support habitat restoration projects throughout the state, and anglers and outdoor enthusiasts alike will see the positive impact of shoreline projects, reef developments and more. “Thanks to State Rep. James Grant and Sen. Aaron Brown for being instrumental in getting the bill passed and thanks to Mike Goodwine for giving us the opportunity to make his idea a reality,” said Starr Creations.

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Community

FOCUS

CHECK IN WITH PLANT CITY

Jim Scott Awarded

61st annual Citizen of the Year Award By Cheryl Johnston

W

hen Jim Scott reflects on the Citizen of the Year recipients who have come before him, he feels humbled. “I know the amount of time and energy these men and women have sacrificed to serve the Plant City community, and I’m grateful for this

recognition.” During his acceptance of the coveted award on February 12 at the 61st annual luncheon, he thanked the civic clubs that present the event, adding, “And to all those previous winners in the room, thank you for being role models to all of us. We’re watching and trying to emulate what you have set for us moving forward.” Created to recognize an exceptionally civic-minded Plant City-area resident each year, this honor was first awarded to Arthur Rice Boring, a president of Hillsboro Bank who served the community as a city- and mayor-commissioner. His is one of the many prior recipients’ portraits that attendees enjoy viewing just inside the event’s entrance area. As last year’s honoree, George Banning introduced Jim Scott with remarks about their common alma mater, Michigan State University. Banning also mentioned he had been a fraternity brother of Jim’s father at MSU. “You never really expect it to be your name that’s called to receive the award,” Scott shared. “But when George mentioned our university, I realized he was talking about me.” Jim and Leigh Scott, his wife of almost 18 years, moved to Plant City in 2004 and quickly got involved with serving the community. Employed by the United Food Bank, Leigh assists with marketing and events. She also serves on the Tomlin Middle School PTSA Board. Their sons, Nick and Connor, accompanied her to witness the award reveal and congratulate their dad. Focused on their education, Nick will enter into the International Baccalaureate program at Strawberry Crest High School in August while Connor continues at Tomlin. Together the Scotts enjoy time on the water,

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Scott’s civic involvement over the years has included service in the following roles: • Rotary Club of Plant City (former president and on Board of Directors) • Florida Strawberry Festival associate director (has long been Chairman of the Ambassadors) • East Hillsborough Law Enforcement Appreciation Association (Board of Directors since 2015) • South Florida Baptist Hospital Foundation’s Board of Directors since 2018 • A founding member of the Plant City Economic Development Corporation in 2015 (on its executive committee since 2017) • Recently joined Board of Directors for Hillsboro Bank • Robert W. Willaford Railroad Museum Society – Board of Directors from 2014 - 2017. • Active with Greater Plant City Chamber of Commerce (Board of Directors since 2009 Board Chairman in 2013) • Plant City YMCA- joined Board of Directors in 2005; Board Chairman 2009-2010; Strong Leader Award 2018 • Tampa YMCA Association Governance Board (2014-2017) • Greater Dade City Chamber of Commerce (Board of Directors 2002-2004; Board Chairman- 2004) • Rotary Club of Dade City from 2000-2004 (Board of Directors 2002-2004).


Kiwanis Club President Gil Gott (far left) and 2019 Citizen of the Year George Banning (far right) join Jim Scott (center) and his wife Leigh and sons Nick and Connor.

fishing, traveling, and hanging out with their dogs, Miles and Oliver. They also have fun cheering for their favorite college teams, MSU and Leigh’s alma mater, Miami of Ohio. While Scott mentioned he would never be able to accomplish all he does “without their support,” his family had praise for him as well. “I was extremely humbled when I was notified Jim was voted as the 2020 Citizen of the Year, knowing he would be so incredibly honored,” Leigh said. “It means so much to know his time and involvement was duly noted and appreciated.” She continued, “Many others have come before him, along with those currently doing and future individuals who work hard every day for Plant City's success. That's why for Jim to be chosen is very special. He is so giving of his time to many community organizations. He’s setting a great example for our boys to see how helping others while asking nothing in return can build a better community.” And by his example, the boys are learning. “It's not about doing it for yourself,” offered Nick. “It's doing it for your community.” Connor shared what he’s realized by watching his father serve. “Try your best to make our community a better place. Work hard on the things you love and know what they mean to you.”

In a later interview at his office, Scott explained that his own examplesetter for making community service a priority was Dick Jarrett, the father of his partners, Brian and Bill Jarrett. “He taught me that if local businesses support their community, the community will help to support their business. And I’ve found that to be true.” He continued, “We feel humbled to have received this honor. We try to teach our sons to be humble and appreciative, because our family has

been blessed through the dealership, Leigh’s hard work, and the great people who live here.” After earning his bachelor’s degree in Business Administration from MSU in 1993, Scott worked in sales and marketing for the Detroit Tigers and Detroit Pistons. After joining the Ford Motor Company, he was transferred in 1996 to Orlando to sell vehicles to dealerships throughout Florida. Those responsibilities connected him with the Jarretts and a life-

changing friendship was formed. He served as General Manager of their Dade City dealership before becoming a partner in the Plant City location. Under his leadership, the Jarrett-Scott Ford team has earned the Ford Motor Company’s highest recognition, the President’s Cup, six times. Scott credits his employees for allowing him to be so involved with local events and efforts. “They go above/beyond at work and I’m thankful for their dedication.” He added, “Obviously, with the time I spend away from the dealership, our business doesn’t take lightly the responsibility nor level of commitment it takes to serve locally. We are pleased to live, work, and give ourselves back to the community here in Plant City.”

Jim Scott was joined by the City Commissioners at the Feb. 12 ceremony from left to right: Vice Mayor Nate Kilton, Commissioner Mary Thomas Mathis, 2020 Outstanding Citizen of the Year Jim Scott, Mayor Rick Lott, Commissioner Mike Sparkman and City Manager Bill McDaniel. Not pictured: Commission Bill Dodson PAGE

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alden Lake Community Association Board Meetings are held the third Monday of each month at 7:00 at the Walden Lake Community Association office building on Griffin Boulevard in Walden Lake. The next meeting is scheduled for March 16th. The meetings are open to all Walden Lake HOA members. Please keep an eye on the announcement boards at all entrances for dates and times of special meetings and events. The HOA Annual meeting is scheduled for April 16th at 7:00 PM at the Plant City Church of God at 2103 Mud Lake Road. This is always an important meeting to attend as it gives residents the opportunity to vote for new Board Members and hear about what is happening in our community. You should receive your Proxy soon and if you do not plan to attend, please fill out and mail the Proxy back prior to the meeting. During the month of February, there were 5 sales in Walden Lake and 4 sales in Walden Lake East. The average sale price was $253,117 with an average of 60 days on the market.

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A Perfect

&

Vision A Slice of

Americana By Cierra Craft

2020 Festival in Review

For 85 years, the Florida Strawberry Festival has rolled out the red carpet in celebration of our local strawberry growers and the bountiful harvest of berries that have blessed our community, our state and our nation. Today, the Florida Strawberry Festival is ranked among the Top 40 Fairs in North America and the Top 100 Fairs in the World. More than 10,000 acres of strawberries are planted each year with nearly 3000 farms throughout the county. These crops produce an annual value of $360 million. FOCUS Magazine is proud to present a 2020 Florida Strawberry Festival in Review, a lookback at all of the memories made February 27 through March 8. From delicious foods to Hillsborough County’s youngest citizens taking the spotlight, the 2020 Florida Strawberry Festival was a perfect vision of our community’s sense of togetherness, support of local agriculture and love for all these strawberries. PAGE

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FEBRUARY 27

Despite the chilly weather on Opening Day to the Festival, the gates were full of eager guests waiting for their chance to experience delicious foods, unique artisan vendors and take a ride around the Ferris wheel. 2020 Queen Meghan White, First Maid Kennedy Sapp and court members Denim Hughes, Emma Miller, and Lacie Collins greeted guests at Gate 1. Guests were also afforded the opportunity to have their photo taken with Mr. and Mrs. Berry, the official mascots of the Florida Strawberry Festival. The first guests to come through the gates on February 27 said he was looking forward to seeing Jimmy Sturr and his orchestra in concert. Sturr has performed at the Strawberry Festival for several decades. The Grammy Award winning artist is a crowd favorite, particularly on Senior Citizen Day.


Showmen demonstrated their steer in the Patterson Livestock Arena. Attendees were there to support the young agriculturalist and get a sneak peek at the steer available for sale the next day.

Paisley Marie Nichols won the 14 to 18 month category for prettiest girl. Annalise Lynn Esposito won first runner up in the category.

Grand Parade Director Gail Lyons served as the Grand Marshal for the event. She passed out red beads to commemorate the event.

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2020 Festival in Review At 7PM, 83 FFA and 4-H students from across Hillsborough County participated in the annual Mosaic Youth Swine Show. Pigs are placed in one of nine classes based on the animal’s weight. The winner of each class then competes for the title of grand champion. Dakota Grigson, a member of the Strawberry Crest FFA Chapter, exhibited the grand champion swine. Reserve grand champion was awarded to Avery Ashley, a member of the Hillsborough FFA Federation. “When I was named grand champion, I was immediately in tears,” said Grigson. “I have never shown at the Festival before and I was not expecting anything that happened that night. I was so happy and excited.” After the youth swine show, the showmanship competition begins, where the showmen are judged on how they present their animals to the judge. In the senior division, Ashley Avery placed first, Dakota Grigson placed second, and Drew Blanton placed third. In the intermediate division, Milee Hasting placed first, Blake Chancey placed second and Abigail Mullis placed third. In the junior division, Brielee Bedenbaugh placed first, Jessie Parker placed second and Tucker Conrad placed third.

FEBRUARY 28

The exhibitors of the Mosaic Youth Swine Show sold their pigs in the Mosaic Youth Swine Sale at the Grimes Family Agricultural Center. Grigson’s grand champion pig was purchased by Astin Farms for $16 per pound. The reserve grand champion pig, exhibited by Avery Ashley, was purchased by Florida Strawberry Growers Association for $10 per pound. “Thank you so much to Astin Farms for buying and supporting Youth Livestock,” said Grigson. “Thank you to all who have helped me through the process of raising my grand champion hog. I honestly wouldn’t have been able to do it without them.” According to the Florida Strawberry Festival, no exhibitor earned less than $4 per pound. “The businesses in our community are making a significant investment in the local youth by supporting our swine exhibitors,” said President Paul Davis. “We are thankful for their contributions and continued support year after year.”

FEBRUARY 29

Plant City’s youngest residents stepped into the spotlight in the 47th annual Strawberry Youth Parade. Each year, the festival highlights youth groups, dance teams, school organizations and marching bands. Other than the chaperones, all participants in the youth parade are 18 years of age or under. The parade was led by Youth Grand Marshal Mary-Catherine Stephens. The parade entries were judged in a number of categories: Best Group Float, Best Church Float, Best Marching Unit, and Best Band Category. PAGE

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2020 Queen Meghan White and her court, along with 2020 Junior Royalty and 2019 Little Miss Plant City, joined the newly appointed 2020 Baby Parade winners. Front center include King Maximus Arce and Queen Grace Castano-Olivia, and Court Members Raegan Cale, Heaven Martinez, and Addison Snapp.

Saint Clement Make-YourOwn-Strawberry Shortcake booth saw thousands of visitors come through in search of the famous sweet treat. To top off their treat, each shortcake was topped with a whole berry.


2020 Festival in Review The winners include:

Best Group Float: Faith Christian Academy won first place, Advantage Academy of Hillsborough won second and Drawdy’s Dance School won third. Best Church Float: Eastside Baptist Church won first place, Lebanon Baptist Church won second place, and Gospel Mets Youth won third place. Best Marching Unit: Patrick’s Patriots Twirling Corps won first place, Boys and Girls Club of Polk County won second and Gentlemens Quest of Marshall Middle School won third. Best Band Category, Dowdell Middle School Dolphin Pride Band won first place, Icon Preparatory School Marching Rattlers Band won second, and the Tomlin Middle School Band won third place.

MARCH 1

Although the youth agriculture contests and parade were an opportunity for our community’s residents to shine, the annual Baby Contest, sponsored by South Florida Baptist Hospital, allowed for babies throughout Hillsborough County to get in on the Festival fun. There are three segments of the competition: the decorated diaper contest, features contest and the diaper derby, where the fastest crawling baby wins. In the diaper category, Emerson Elizabeth Lorraine Gaede won the Festival theme division and Millie Wren Marie Elliott won the farm animal category. In the feature contests, Lily Grace Angelina Perry won the biggest eyes; Everly Parker Shroyer won the chubbiest cheeks; Ower Enoc Gonzalez won the most hair, and Emerson Elizabeth Lorraine Gaede won the baldest baby.

Gymnasts with Drawdy’s Dance School wowed the crowed with aerial flips and tricks. For 2.4 miles, the team showcased their talent.

Free entertainment was throughout the Festival, including first timers Vocal Trash. The group uses common everyday items to create music. Vocal trash performed in the Publix Showcase Tent throughout the Festival.

In the prettiest girl contests, Korie Emersyn Garvey won the six to nine months category, Sadie Ann Lane won the 10 to 13 months category and Paisley Marie Nichols won the 14 to 18 months category. In the most handsome boy contests, Lucas Sage Lamela won the six to nine months category, Waylon Thomas Rainey won the 10 to 13 months category, and Elias Miguel Martinez won the 16 to 18 months category. In the diaper derby, Roman Lee Jonathan Minuto won the six to eight months category, and Waylon Thomas Rainey won the 9 to 12 months category.

MARCH 2

The Grand Parade has been a tradition in Plant City since the first Strawberry Festival in 1930. Following the parade, the community would crown its Strawberry Queen. On Monday, March 2, thousands of Plant City residents turned out for the 2020 Grand Parade.

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2020 Festival in Review The Grand Parade, produced by Berry Fine Productions, stretches almost two and half miles through town. Gail Lyons, director of the Grand Parade, said this year the parade featured more floats and more bands than previous years. The parade was capped at 100 units. This year, Lyons was also featured at the Grand Marshal of the event. In doing so, Lyons was featured in the parade and unable to direct the parade. She said she relied heavily on her committee to ensure the parade went off without a hitch. “To be the main focus, that’s just not me, that’s not Gail,” said Lyons. “People were yelling my name, I asked George ‘do you know those people?’ and he said ‘No, I thought you knew them.’ That’s when I remembered my name was on the side of the car. I knew people that called ‘Ms. Gail’ that they really knew me.” Lyons said many of the units featured in the 2020 event were first timers to the Grand Parade. The Grand Parade committee sent out invitations to past parade participants and invited some of the krewes from Tampa to participate in the Plant City parade. “Countryside Baptist, Outback Steakhouse, Evergreen Packaging… for so many it was their first time in the parade and we were happy to have them,” said Lyons. “For James Hardie, it was their first time in several years, so we were thrilled to have them back in our parade line up.” The judges panel inspected each parade entry for appearance, spirit and if the unit was theme related. The winners were announced that afternoon in six categories: In the best antiques division, Tuskegee Airman Thomas W. Newton won first place; Pregnancy Care won second place, and FFA University of Florida won third place. In the special feature division, Durant Airforce JROTC won first place; Strawberry Crest JROTC won second place, and PCHS JROTC won third place. In the civic/church division, Eastside Baptist Church won first place; Robert W. Willaford Museum won second place, and Strawberry Crest Calendar Girls won third place. In the marching unit division, Strawberry Crest Marching Chargers won first place; Kathleen High School won second place, and Tampa Bay Tech won third place. PAGE

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In the school clubs/youth sports groups division, Strawberry Crest National Cheer Champions won first place; Faith Christian Academy won second place, and J.S. Robinson Elementary won third place.

“Trade and labor, far and away, are the number one and two issues,” said Perdue “We try to meet the needs of what we’re hearing from the industry; this is where real agriculture takes place.”

In the business/commercial division, Kreww of Castaways won first place; Krewe of Carnival won second place, and DJ Aguilar of 107.7 FM Position Number 89 won third place.

During the meeting, producers asked specifically about other issues they’re facing such as immigration, loss of market share, the H2A Program and more.

MARCH 4

In addition to meeting simultaneously with producers and legislators at the Florida Strawberry Festival grounds, Perdue also spent the day touring the festival grounds and talking with vendors and student exhibitors.

In the Patterson Livestock Arena, Hillsborough County’s FFA and 4-H students then participated in the Mosaic Youth Steer Show. Ninety-eight exhibitors showed steers in the annual competition and each steer is placed in one of nine classes based on the animal’s weight. Classes one through three comprise the lightweight division, classes four through seven comprise the middleweight division, and classes eight through ten comprise the heavyweight division. The champion in each of the three divisions then competes for overall grand champion. Riley Buttorff, a member of the Plant City FFA Chapter, exhibited the overall grand champion steer, and Mariah Austin, a member of the Strawberry Crest FFA Chapter, exhibited the overall reserve grand champion steer. Buttorff’s steer was purchased by Jim Scott of JarrettScott Ford. In the lightweight division, Ava Hasting won grand champion, and Kenley Connell won reserve grand champion. In the middleweight division, Ramsey Bowers won grand champion, and Shalee Conrad won reserve grand champion. In the heavyweight division, Rylie Buttorff won grand champion, and Mariah Austin won reserve grand champion.

MARCH 6

On March 6, the Florida Strawberry Festival was joined by U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue to meet with agriculture producers in the Plant City area. Numerous producers of vegetables, fruit, and cattle, along with U.S. Rep. Ross Spano of Florida and U.S. Rep. Greg Pence of Indiana, officials of the City of Plant City were present at the luncheon to hear Secretary Perdue discuss government regulations, trade and labor policies, as well as the USMCA (United StatesMexico-Canada Agreement) and the USDA.

Secretary Perdue said he tries to visit local growers as often as he can and says his favorite part of the job is getting out with members of Congress and American constituents to hear directly from citizens about problems or opportunities impacting American farmers and growers. Secretary Perdue said there is a hearing scheduled for April 7 with the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative and the Departments of Agriculture and Commerce regarding how trade practices in Mexico are impacting crop producers. That hearing will take place at the Grimes Family Agricultural Center on the Festival grounds.

MARCH 7

The Plant City Junior Woman’s Club held their annual Baby Parade. The event is sponsored by South Florida Baptist Hospital. Plant City children, ages 1 to 4, were invited to participate in the annual event. “We had over 100 contestants participate,” Plant City Junior and Baby Parade Chairman Ilene Chavez.”We couldn’t do what we do for the children of our community without the constant support of the Florida Strawberry Festival and our Plant City families.” The winners of the Baby Parade will represent Plant City’s youngest royalty in annual events throughout the year. The 2020 Baby Parade Court consists of: King Maximus Mitchel Arce Queen Grace Maria Court Members: Raegan Sawyer Lea Cale, Heaven Louise Martinez, Addison Lynn Snapp


The annual Diaper Derby is a crowd favorite as everyone cheers on the fastest crawling baby to the finish line. Roman Lee Jonathan Minuto won the 6 to 8 months category and Waylon Thomas Rainey won the 9 to 12 month category.

FFA and 4-H Youth Exhibitors participated in the annual Swine Show, held in the Patterson Livestock Arena. The following day, the pigs were sold. Many of the students will use those funds for their college expenses.

Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue spent the afternoon with Plant City producers, US Rep. Ross Spano of Florida and US Rep. Greg Pence of Indiana, as well as officials of the City of Plant City to discuss various programs and policies being worked on to benefit farmers. PAGE

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one of Plant City’s founders. Our older brother was three when the doctor announced “You have twins,” and Daddy nearly fell of the porch of our row house (between where IHOP and a pawn shop are today). Times were hard financially. That brother lives in Lakeland now and a younger brother, Larry, died a few years ago. Bobby’s birth certificate had his name registered incorrectly as Charles Henry Hicks, who was a cousin, and a correction was never permitted. Since we needed to help support the family, we finished school through eighth grade and worked farming strawberries, greens and beans. We were baptized in the original First Baptist Church of Plant City (Cornerstone building today) and now attend Calvary Fellowship. During our school years, The Plant City Courier used our photos for an area twins’ story. We remember downtown Plant City on Friday paydays when people came for haircuts, shopping (A & P, Publix, Table Supply and W.W. Mac Dime Store) and movies at the Capitol and State theaters.

People of Plant City

William Harold Hicks & Robert Jackson Hicks LaGrande Hicks says, “You will never meet more decent, God-loving gentlemen than these two.” And Bertie Dunbar, the friend who suggested this story, agrees. “If you can’t love them, you can’t love anybody.” A breakfast gathering at Fred’s Market Restaurant led to a great time of Q & A with these quick-witted and handsome (but still single) octogenarians.

What do you enjoy now for entertainment? In our younger years we presented spook houses with curving tunnels through different rooms and scary characters like Frankenstein and Werewolf. And we performed with our vent figures – Cousin Bumpkin, Fenway, Charles Henry, Rooster, and Pirate. At this age, we don’t plan nothing long, but we try to explore every day. We like flea markets, Walmart shopping, and eating at KFC, Arby’s, Wendy’s, Burger King and the Taco Bell on U.S. 92. After projecting films for 22 years, we still watch TV and own at least 1,000 movies. Growing up, we watched cliff-hangers and serial stories. We also visit St. Augustine--it’s serene and seems like God’s there. On Saturdays we rest up for Sunday church. We love our dogs, too: Little Miss Pugsy (10-year-old Chinese Pug); our newest, Cookie (1-year-old Shih Tzu); and Tiny Little Princess (Teacup Chihuahua).

Tell us a little about your early homelife. Our mother, Burley Beatrice Harrelson, like her mother, was Cherokee Indian. In her late teens, she married our dad, Wilbur Eugene Hicks. Our great-grandfather, Brian Hicks, was

How would you advise young folks who hope to reach age 80? “Don’t smoke, drink, or do drugs. Don’t seek revenge. Wait until God brings you a mate and save sex for marriage. Be kind. Love one another.”

By Cheryl Johnston

E

ighty-year-old Plant City twins William (Billy) Harrold Hicks and Robert (Bobby) Jackson Hicks celebrated their March 4th birthday together at Kentucky Fried Chicken on J. L. Redman Parkway. Their meal was a tribute to Colonel Sanders, whose “Finger Lickin’ Good” recipe debuted the same date in 1940. Cake and a song from the KFC team made it even more special! The artistically talented brothers – ventriloquists, film projectionists, cartoonists, sculptors, and watercolor painters – both experienced triple bypass heart surgery in 2019. Their longtime caregiver and neighbor who calls herself their “adopted sister,” Harriet

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Did You Know? Celebrating 20 Years of Excellence By Plant City Photo Archives & History Center

W

ith a bewildering beginning, Ed Verner, former two-term President of the East Hillsborough Historical Society, founded the Plant City Photo Archives, Inc., initially to rescue and preserve the thousands of photographs of local photographer Bill Friend, which Verner purchased from Bill’s widow Virginia Friend. Although heading into uncharted waters in that summer of 2000, that beginning has led to twenty years of excellence in community service as a public history organization when we did not even know what public history was. With Mac Smith, Bill Parolini, Dr. Hal Brewer, Bill Thomas and several other advisors, the Photo Archives took shape, first in a hallway then in a borrowed office in the downtown Lee Building. By 2002, the Photo Archives began to publish articles in the monthly FOCUS Magazine. In 2003, Ken Gibbs nominated the Plant City Photo Archives, Inc., for an award offered by the Plant City Historic Resources Board, and the Photo Archives received the award for Historic Preservation. Moving into storefront quarters on Collins Street, the Photo Archives (Archives) presented its first “Salute to Veterans” exhibit in November 2005 and drew as many as 1,000 visitors during its monthlong display. The Plant City Chamber of Commerce presented the Archives a “Special Business Award” for Community Service in 2006; the Archives next worked with WUSF TV in its 2007 award-winning production of “Plant City Goes to War”, produced as a complement to the Ken Burns film “The War”. After receiving an offer from The History Press, in 2007 the Archives published its first book, Remembering Plant City; Tales From the Winter Strawberry Capital of the World. Then, in the summer of 2009, the Archives moved to larger and updated quarters in a stand-alone building on South Evers Street. The Archives then received a grant in 2010 from Heritage Preservation under its Conservation Assessment Program which funded the assessment and recommendations by consultant William T. Murphy, who had retired from the National Archives in Washington, D.C. Receiving a grant in 2012 from the Florida

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Humanities Council, funded in part by the National Endowment for the Humanities, the Archives presented the Smithsonian Institution’s exhibition Journey Stories, which filled the new facility and ran from May to July 2012, drawing well over one thousand visitors to downtown Plant City. With the leadership of Myrle Henry, and the assistance of Jim McDaniel and Marion Smith, the Archives received a Historic Preservation grant from Hillsborough County and support from the City of Plant City for the first J. Seward Johnson “man-in-the-street” sculpture exhibit, to run simultaneously with the Smithsonian exhibition. This exhibit drew praise from other communities and the Greater Brandon Arts Council presented the Archives with an award for “Development of the Arts in the Community”. For needed archival supplies the Archives then received a Preservation Assistance Grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities in 2013. The Gilder Lehrman Institute of American History awarded the Archives a grant, partially funded by the National Endowment for the Humanities, to present programs in its initiative “Created Equal: America’s Civil Rights Struggle.” With an additional mini grant from the Florida Humanities Council, the Archives presented five community programs throughout 2014 at the Bruton Memorial Library, Hillsborough Community College, the Bealsville Recreation Center, and at the Archives facility. The programs featured local professionals and scholars from Florida Southern College, and Hillsborough Community College. In 2015 the Photo Archives was honored by the Improvement League of Plant City with its annual presentation of the “Leadership Award” at the Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Festival Leadership

Breakfast. In 2016 the Archives procured a grant from the Florida Humanities Council to develop an oral history program titled “Strawberry Legacies: From Field to Festival.” In 2016 the Archives partnered with the Florida Strawberry Festival and co-authored The Florida Strawberry Festival; A Brief History, which came out on the first day of the 2017 festival. By this time the Archives had published over 100 articles in publications including FOCUS Magazine, The Plant City Courier, The Plant City Observer, Society of Florida Archivists, Society of American Archivists, In the Field Magazine, and Plant City Dining and Entertainment Guide. 2018 proved to be a busy and successful year as the Archives partnered with WUSF Public Media and a University of South Florida Mass Communications professor to produce a “Florida Matters” program called “Telling Tampa Bay Stories – Plant City,” featuring interviews with many Plant City residents and which aired over several weeks

in November. Another partnership developed with Publix Supermarkets, along with the Florida Department of Agriculture and the local State Farmers Market, enabled the Archives to produce a fascinating prize-winning exhibition titled “Plant City and the Agriculture, Food Processing, and Supermarket Revolution: 1939-1975,” which was on display in October and November. Over the years the Archives has collected thousands of photographs and documents, and has developed continuing partnerships with the Arts Council, the Improvement League, Hillsborough Community College, Florida Southern College and other organizations. The Archives initiated the nationally acclaimed Junior Archivists Club, and has mentored twelve interns, four of whom have had their papers published. And in 2020, the Archives was honored with the “Global Philanthropist of the Year Award” at the Black Heritage Celebration annual gala in February. There is more, but this is just part of the “20 Years of Excellence” that will be celebrated at the Plant City Photo Archives & History Center’s annual awards gala Thursday, March 26, 2020.


Want to become a member of the Greater Plant City Chamber of Commerce? Businesses may join the Chamber online by visiting www.plantcity.org or by calling the office at (813) 754- 3707 and speaking with Membership Director, Norm Nelson.

On Thursday, February 20th, The Greater Plant City Chamber of Commerce hosted a ribbon cutting ceremony for the new office of Monticciolo Family and Sedation Dentistry located at 310 W. Alexander Street. Monticciolo Family and Sedation Dentistry is proud to be part of the Plant City community. They are dedicated to the oral health of their patients and offer a comprehensive approach to dentistry. They do this by having state of the art offices, an Endodontist and Periodontist on staff, as well as offering full IV sedation dentistry. For those that are fearful of the dentist, or executives short on time, sedation dentistry is a great option for your dental care needs. The practice offers all new patients a completely complimentary new patient exam, a full set of digital x-rays and full color intraoral photos, and it is no obligation! Monticciolo Dentistry works with most all insurance companies. Dr. Vincent Monticciolo has been part of the greater Tampa Bay area for over 20 years and brings his expertise and dedicated care for his patients to the Plant City community. Joining him is, Dr. Edward Williams who is a longtime resident of the area. Chamber members are invited to join the practice for all of your oral health care needs.

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By Cierra Craft

FOCUS Magazine is honored once again to present the winners of our annual Readers’ Choice Awards. From cuisines to businesses, this year readers cast over 10,000 votes in 54 categories to name the best of Plant City. At FOCUS, supporting small local business is at the core of everything we do. The annual awards recognize the hard work and determination of not only our advertisers, but of the Plant City business community, as a whole. Our anniversary party, held at Keel and Curley Winery last month, also served as an opportunity to bring business leaders from all sectors and industries together for an evening of fun. Throughout the next several pages, meet the winners of the 2020 Readers’ Choice Awards and be sure to support these local businesses with your patronage. Next time you’re in need of a recommendation for a local A/C company or are looking for the best pizza in town, turn to this issue to find the best in the business.

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Other Nominees

O’Brien’s Irish Pub Roots Taproom & Wine Bar Paddy Wagon Silver Dollar Duke’s Brewhouse

1916 Irish Pub BEST BAR

I

n 2016, owner Chuck Jamieson along with co-founders Duke Mendel and Guy Marquis, introduced Plant City to their vision for a unique dining and entertainment experience. The 1916 Irish Pub is filled with rich Irish tradition mixed with a contemporary twist. Marking the centennial celebration of the 1916 Irish Revolution - a revolution to fight for Ireland’s independence from British rule - Jamieson deemed the 2016 grand opening as one of perfect timing. Located at 2309 Thonotosassa Road in the Plant City Crossings business center, 1916 is open daily from 11 a.m. to 2 a.m. In Irish Pub style, 1916 offers a wide selection of beverages from soft drinks, craft beers and cocktails to traditional Irish beers and whiskey. The food selection also holds a culinary twist of Irish and Americana. “We take a lot of pride in our food. Not just in the preparation of the food, but also in the ingredients,” states Jamieson. Jamieson notes the sandwiches are made with Boars Head meats and cheeses, the hamburgers are Kobe beef, and the Rueben and Shepherd’s Pie are fan favorites.

2309 Thonotosassa Road, Plant City, FL 33563 | (813) 756-6504 Hours: Monday to Sunday 11 a.m. to 2 a.m. 2900 Buckingham Avenue, Lakeland, FL 33803 | (863) 834-2377 Hours: Monday to Sunday 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. 1916irishpub.com

Other Nominees

Fred’s Market Restaurant 1916 Irish Pub Outback Steakhouse The Wooden Spoon Diner

Brick House Café BEST HAMBURGER

B

rick House Café in the historic downtown feels like your mama’s kitchen with its made-to-order, Southern dishes and prompt, friendly service. When the old jail house became available to lease, owner Shari Sarris saw an opportunity. The dining room offers plenty of seating for hungry diners. As a thirdgeneration restauranteur, Sarris has followed in the footsteps of her grandmother and mother. Sarris and her son Spiros work side-by-side to serve up some of Plant City’s favorite dishes, including juicy burgers from the grill. Brickhouse Café has named Best Hamburger in Plant City for six consecutive years. Burger is piled high with the fixings: lettuce, tomato, pickle, and onion on a fresh bun for only $5.00. Brick House Café offers huge portions for breakfast and lunch. It’s obvious the crowds love not only the food, but also the hometown, local feel. “I know they can spend their hard-earned money anywhere,” Shari said. “I sincerely appreciate when they choose us.”

206 S. Evers Street, Plant City, FL 33563 | 813-752-8546 Hours: Closed Monday | Tuesday & Wednesday 6AM – 2PM Thursday-Saturday 6AM – 8PM | Sunday 8AM – 2PM PAGE

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U THANK YOU THANK O Y K YOU FROM THAN

DUKES CHIROPRACTIC HEALTH CLINIC, P.A. CELEBRATING

2020

35 YEARS

E MINE

NO

ATE ESTEN CH L ICK REA BETST BES AFOOD SEICE ANDOFF

Joseph Nolan, Esq., John Haney, Earl Williams Gigi Nolan, Julee Shepherd.

Commercial Residential

Auctions Management 111 South Palmer Street Plant City, Florida 33563 Office: (813) 567-7198 John L. Haney, Lic Real Estate Broker AceBid.Com/Realty

From The Desk of DR. DUKES: It is so hard to believe it has been 35 years to To Love, To Serve, And Give out of Abundance to Our Community And Surrounding Areas. This is A special time to share from a heart of gratitude. A special appreciation to the many we have served, those we serve and those OCTOBER IS NATIONAL we pray have the opportunity to serve.

CHIROPRACTIC HEALTH MONTH 2019

Thank You to a Wonderful family, friends, and staff. They are truly aOctober BLESSING for their support and dedication. is National Chiropractic Health Month to promote how chiropract helped to improve and maintain their musculoskeletal and overall health. Our office has been so thankful to serve our community in many Movement vitally Florida important to overall health. Physical East activity not only ways like theis South Baptist Hospital foundation, reduce the risk cardiovascular disease, Typefor 2 diabetes Hillsborough Law of Enforcement, Chaired Jr. Royalty 5 years, and even cancers, itmany also strenghthens and muscles. As we age, the h supported organizations, our andbones Honorary FFA member of our bones and muscles--also ourScholarship musculoskeletal syste supporting for many years to Youth known Livestockasand especially in reducing the frequency and severity of back pa Fund for the important Florida Strawberry Festival. well as preventing falls and other injuries that can lead to disability and lim engagelike in work andbefore, other to daily I ability am so to thankful, NEVER be aactivities. part of a profession

that is a valuable part of the healthcare system. As a Doctor of Back pain and remains one of the most our prevalent and disabling cond Chiropractic a Diplomate in Neurology office is so happy worldwide. It is one of the most common reasons that patients visit to offer chiropractic care, massage therapy, nutritional counseling, doctors, and one of the most common conditions for which doctors pres custom orthotics, digital pulse analysis, (cardio evaluation), and opioid pain medications. Since the overuse and abuse of prescription o our newest awesome (PEMF) Pulse Electro Magnetic Field therapy. painkillers in the United States remains a top public health problem essential for health care consumers and providers to understand that Words can never how much we appreciate has so many and adjustment and express other conservative approaches with documentation s remember God loves you and so do I. to be valuable by treating musculoskeletal conditions such as low back safely and effectively. Thanks So Much, Dr. Dukes

Give Us A Call!

Dr. Brenda Dukes • Chiropractic Physician 752-2524 • 2401 Walden Woods Dr. • Plant City, FL 33566 www.dukeschiropractichealth.com

Dr. Dukes encourages you to write her with any questions concerning chiropractic care.

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Other Nominees

Panera Bread Ole’ Tampa Cubans Whistle Stop

The Corner Store BEST SOUP

T

he Corner Store uses the most sustainable products possible, providing a unique dining experience with local agriculture. The eatery’s sense of community extends far beyond food, supporting community events such as Rhythm & Rhyme, as well as Yoga & Mimosas. The Corner Store is a place to refuel your mind, body, spirit and pantry. Voted Best Soup, The Corner Store serves up a Soup of the Day, ranging in varieties such as Tomato Basil Soup to Spanish Chicken & Chorizo. Each soup is a warm, scratchmade bowl of deliciousness, served with pita chips and fresh fruit for $8.00 Founded by Cynthia Diaz, The Corner Store is a quaint and casual establishment at the intersection of Reynolds and Palmer streets. Guests can purchase jarred cookie mix, prepackaged snacks and dry goods, as well as locally produced jellies and jams.

121 W Reynolds Street, Plant City, FL 33563 | (813) 754-0900 Mon-Thurs, Sat: 11AM to 3PM | Friday: 11AM to 10PM

Other Nominees

Krazy Kup Outback Brickhouse Cafe Twistee Treat

Dairy Queen BEST DESSERT

C

hocolate Chip Cookie Dough. Turtle Pecan Cluster. Choco Brownie Extreme. These are just a few of the Blizzard flavors available at Dairy Queen. Dive into soft serve ice cream one spoonful at a time, with signature flavors, candy classics and Royal flavors, there is something for everyone. Keep it simple with a vanilla cone, chocolate dipped cone or butterscotch dipped cone. Dive into a sundae with a vanilla soft serve base and topped with hot fudge, strawberry, chocolate, caramel, peanut butter, pineapple or midnight fudge. Dairy Queen Plant City serves up every delicious treat with a smile. Dine in or pull into the drive thru for faster service. You’re sure to be treated with speedy service and the DQ team will see to it that your dessert is made to perfection.

1902 W Reynolds St, Plant City, FL 33563 | (813) 752-2236 Mon- Thursday 11AM to 9:30PM | Friday & Saturday 11AM to 10PM Sunday 12PM to 9:30PM PAGE

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CHURCH AT THE BARN PRESENTS A LIVE DRAMA

Escape 4908 JAMES L. REDMAN PARKWAY 03/21: 5PM & 7PM | 03/22: 7PM FREE ADMISSION | LIMITED SEATING FOR TICKETS, CALL BROOKE 813.763.5108 SOME SCENES MAY NOT BE SUITABLE FOR CHILDREN

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Other Nominees Best Italian ABC Pizza Carrbba’s Italian Grill Nick’s Pizzaria and Wings Olde Town Pizzeria & Pasta Co.

Other Nominees Best Pizza ABC Pizza Hungry Howie’s Nick’s Pizzeria & Wings Olde Town PIzzeria & Pasta Co.

Esposito’s Pizza & Italian Restaurant BEST ITALIAN. BEST PIZZA.

M

uch of Italian life revolves around the dinner table and the Esposito family welcomes Plant City families to partake in such traditions. At Esposito’s Pizza and Italian Restaurant, guests can enjoy recipes passed down through the family for generations. Each dish at Esposito’s Pizza is homemade, from slow-cooked marinara sauce and dough made in-house each day, guests are guaranteed to feel like “famiglia” at the dinner table. Those who dine in have the option of order pizza for the table or by the slice at the counter. Pizza is made with the best ingredients and the finest mozzarella, baked in a 450 degree stone oven. Popular dishes include other Italian classics such as strombolis, calzones, subs/sandwiches, and pastas, including Esposito Lasagna, Ziti, Spaghetti, and Parmigana. For dessert, dive into Esposito Tiramisu, made with a 50 year old family recipe. Tiramisu consists of coffee flavored custard, ladyfinger cookies dipped in espresso, layered with a whipped mixture of mascarpone and creamed, flavored with a splash of rum and cocoa. It’s no surprise that Esposito is considered among the best, with diners raving about the great service, delicious food and generous portions. Visit Esposito Pizza for a taste of Naples, Italy right here in Plant City.

2803 James L Redman Pkwy, Plant City, FL 33566 | (813) 704-5971 Mon-Sun 11AM-9PM

Other Nominees Best Breakfast Brick House Cafe The Wooden Spoon Hole-In-One Norma’s

Fred’s Market

BEST BREAKFAST. BEST HOMECOOKIN’. BEST OVERALL SERVICE.

F

or more than two decades, Fred's Market Restaurant has served up traditional homecookin’ with southern hospitality and charm. From crispy fried chicken to grits and tomato gravy, guests enjoy a meal just like Grandma used to make. The Johnson family legacy began in 1954, when Elton and Evelyn Johnson began serving Evelyn's southern cooking out of their gas station, which stood on James L. Redman, at the location of the present day Hardee’s. The gas station was converted to Johnson Restaurant when folks couldn't get enough of Elton’s barbeque and Evelyn’s cornbread and fried chicken. On the breakfast buffet, guests can enjoy scrambled eggs, cinnamon rolls, bacon or sausage links and southern sides, including hashbrown casserole and biscuits and gravy. Served until 10:30AM, enjoy the Breakfast MarketTable for $8.79 or the one-time-trip with the Blue Plate for $6.79. Today, the Johnson family operates four Fred's Market Restaurants throughout Central Florida and the iconic Johnson Barbeque at the corner of MLK and Alexander streets. The establishments are built on family values and heritage, making the Johnson’s restaurants a place where family, friends and the community can sit for a while and share slow cooked meals. It’s no surprise that Fred’s Market Restaurant has won more Readers’ Choice Awards than any other eatery in Plant City, with 31 Readers’ Choice Awards just within the past nine years.

1401 W Dr Martin Luther King Jr Blvd, Plant City, FL 33563 | (813) 752-7763 Mon- Sat 6AM to 9PM | Sun 8AM to 9PM PAGE

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Other Nominees Best Hometown Cookin’ Brick House Cafe BuddyFreddy’s Plant City Hometown Buffet Snellgroves

Other Nominees Best Overall Service Brick House Cafe Johnson Barbeque Olde Town Pizzeria & Pasta Co. O’Brien’s


Other Nominees

Nidia’s Latin Grill Johnson Barbeque Smokin’ Aces BBQ Smokin' Joe's Taylor Que

Johnson Barbeque BEST BBQ

J

ohnson Barbeque has refined the family’s recipes to serve the best barbeque in town. Each cut of meat is slow-smoked onsite for 16 hours with homemade rubs and sauces. And each dish is handcrafted through a detailed process to ensure every bite is tender and flavorful. While staying true to the family recipes, Johnson Barbeque is modernizing the proud tradition of southern barbeque with specialties like Fried Smoked Chicken, BBQ Tacos and Smoked Ribeye Steaks. Sauces and rubs are still homemade, and the smokers are working 24 hours a day to ensure your cut of meat is fresh, juicy and tasty. The professionals at Johnson Barbeque are committed to serving handcrafted southern barbeque in a relaxed neighborhood atmosphere. And they continue to believe today, as Elton Johnson did in 1954, that a love of great food— and especially authentic barbeque— is something shared by all.

1407 W. Dr. MLK, Jr. Blvd., Plant City, FL | 813-759-0009 Open Mon – Sat: 11AM - 8:30PM

Jessica Williams BEST SERVER- JOHNSON BARBEQUE

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tep into Johnson Barbeque and you’re met with the aroma of savory barbeque. Meet server Jessica Williams and you’re in for an experience of hospitality. Williams began working at Johnson Barbeque five years ago. She said she not only enjoys working for the Johnson family, but staff of the restaurant and guests have become family. “I love working for the Johnson family- they’re great people- but I also enjoy seeing the regulars and I love everyone I work with. It’s like seeing my friends everyday at work.”

1407 W. Dr. MLK, Jr. Blvd., Plant City, FL | 813-759-0009 Open Mon – Sat: 11AM - 8:30PM PAGE

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Other Nominees

Dunkin’ Donuts Hole in One Starbucks Ole’ Tampa Cubans

Krazy Kup BEST COFFEE

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or almost six years, the Trunzo family has welcomed friends new and old to their six-time Readers’ Choice Award-winning Krazy Kup coffeehouse in historic downtown Plant City. Krazy Kup offers hot, cold and blended drink options with espresso to iced coffee to “krappes,” just to name a few. Customers rave about the coffee concoctions and the friendly service at Krazy Kup. With charming décor inside the red-brick, two-story building and the gated Krazy Louie’s Kourtyard outdoors, Krazy Kup has plenty of space to gather with friends. The establishment’s loft has become a gathering place for groups like Rise Plant City, The Writers’ Loft, bible study groups, and on a weekly occurrence, local talent showcase their musical abilities in a variety of genres of bluegrass to pop.

101 East J. Arden Mays Boulevard, Plant City, FL 33563 | 813-752-1220 Online at www.krazykup.com and Facebook Hours: Tuesday – Friday 08:13 AM – 08:13 PM | Saturday 09:33 AM – 10:33 PM Sunday & Monday CLOSED

Other Nominees

Outback Steakhouse 1916 Irish Pub Maryland Fried Chicken Johnson Barbeque

Linda’s Crab Shack BEST SEAFOOD

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nown by locals as a great casual dining spot for tasty seafood, Linda’s Crab Shack is a regular stop for those visiting historic downtown. For 26 years, the casual eatery has offered generous portions at an affordable price. Open for lunch and dinner from Monday through Saturday, there’s no need to drive long distances to satisfy your cravings for fish, shrimp, or Devil crabs. The Garza family handrolls and deep fries a fresh batch of Devil crabs each and every day. Visit Linda’s Crab Shack for Plant City’s taste of the sea.

202 E Reynolds St, Plant City, FL 33563 | (813) 754-0492 Mon-Thurs 11:30AM – 9PM | Fri-Sat 11:30AM – 9:30PM | Closed Sunday PAGE

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Congratulations- Best Server in Town

JESSICA WILLIAMS PAGE

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Other Nominees

Publix Popeye’s Plant City Hometown Buffet Fred’s Market Restaurant

Maryland Fried Chicken BEST FRIED CHICKEN

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aryland Fried Chicken has become a cornerstone of Plant City’s culinary heritage. From humble beginnings, the Naset family prides themselves in offering the same fresh, never frozen chicken that has fed hungry Plant City residents for 50 years. Five days per week, fresh whole chicken is delivered. It’s then cut, coated in seasonings and spices and then pressure cooked in pure peanut oil. The pressurecooking method seals in the juices and flavors, giving a crispy exterior to the moist chicken. The pressure-cooking method makes Maryland Fried Chicken one of a kind and a dining experience to remember. Complete dinners for eat-in or take-out are available with chicken or seafood in the apex at the corner of Thonotosassa and Alexander Street, just north of South Florida Baptist Hospital. Stop in soon to savor the flavor that has charmed locals more than 50 years.

315 N. Alexander Street, Plant City, FL 33563 | 813-473-6883 plantcityfriedchicken.com | Hours: Monday-Saturday, 11AM-9PM; Closed Sundays

Other Nominees

Duke’s Brewhouse 1916 Irish Pub Smokin’ Aces O’Brien’s

Nick’s Pizzaria & Wings BEST WINGS

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tep into Nick’s Pizzaria and Wings and the aroma of a baking pizza fills the air. The popular eatery is renowned for its handtossed New York-style pizzas, jumbo party size wings, sandwiches and fresh salads. Nick’s wings are perfect for the big game, parties and more. Made with fresh, never frozen chicken, choose eight, 12, 20, or 30 wings. Tossed in one of Nick’s 16 handmade sauces, you’re in for a treat. Explore nontraditional flavors such as Teriyaki and Jerk, along with classic sauces such as house mild, buffalo and honey bbq. Owner, Jimbo Sparks, purchased the popular Plant City eatery in April 2012. Sparks’ expertice in the hospitality industry for over 30 years allowed him to provide consulting services to other restaurant owners to improve their efficiency numbers. He then decided to do that as a restaurant owner himself. “We believe in offering good service, in extending hospitality and being friendly to everyone who walks through our door,” said Sparks. “We enjoy being part of this community, supporting our schools and churches, and spreading the good word about other local businesses when folks inquire about recommendations.”

1707 James L. Redman Parkway, Plant City, FL 33563 | 813.757.5900 Mon-Sat 11AM to 10PM | Sun Noon to 9PM PAGE

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Other Nominees

ABC Pizza Whistle Stop Johnson Barbeque Fazoli’s

Olde Town Pizzeria & Pasta Co. BEST SALAD

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lde Town Pizzeria is renowned for its pizza, sandwiches, calzones, baked pasta dishes and a wide selection of salads, one of which is their signature “Strawberry Walnut Salad” with a red wine vinaigrette. Yummy, for sure, and one you’ll find yourself craving. Looking for something savory, opt for the Cheeseburger Salad or the Chicken Bacon Ranch Salad. Located on James L. Redman Parkway, Olde Town Pizzeria and Pasta Co. is a popular hotspot for business lunches during the day and families flock to the pizzeria for dinner. The upbeat, yet old fashion style pizzeria offers hearty portions at an affordable price. Excellent service, and delicious food are consistent mentions in reviews on social media. With something for everyone, it’s the dining choice the whole family can agree on. All menu items are made-to-order from the freshest, top-quality ingredients available. Plant City loves its Olde Town!

3011 James L. Redman Pkwy, Plant City, FL 33566 | 813-752-5800 oldetownpizzeria.com | Hours: Mon 11AM – 9PM; Tues-Sun 11AM - 10PM

Other Nominees

Carrabba’s Italian Grill Johnson Barbeque Smokin’ Aces BBQ Chili’s

Outback Steakhouse BEST STEAK

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utback Steakhouse Plant City is home to juicy steaks, spirited drinks and Aussie hospitality. Offering unbeatable steak cuts, Outback Steakhouse has served the Plant City area for 19 years. From Victoria’s Filet Mignon to the Melbourne Porterhouse, each steak is sure to be tender, savory and seared to perfection. Pair your steak with grilled or coconut shrimp or steamed lobster tail, for a dining experience sure to take you to “the Land Down Under.” The dedicated and friendly staff has a combined 372 years of experience, providing courteous, attentive service, and going above and beyond to make your meal one to remember. Be sure to visit Outback Steakhouse or call ahead for curbside pick up. As of April 2019, Outback Plant City now offers Delivery throughout the greater Plant City area. Call today to order your Outback favorites.

1203 Townsgate Ct, Plant City, FL 33563 | (813) 759-4329 www.outback.com/locations/fl/plant-city Sun-Thurs 11AM-10PM | Fri & Sat 11AM-11PM PAGE

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Other Nominees Shortcake Dairy Queen Fred’s Market Restaurant Strawberry Hut Brick House Cafe

Other Nominees Milkshake Dairy Queen Strawberry Hut Twistee Treat Mr. Sebas

Parkesdale Farm Market BEST SHORTCAKE. BEST MILKSHAKES

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he legacy that is now known as Parkesdale Farm Market began, when the Parke family relocated from Pennsylvania to Plant City in 1956. The family began with a 10 acre farm, eventually expanding to hundreds of acres of not only winter strawberries, but also citrus and vegetables. The market opened in February 1969, selling produce straight from the farm. Every winter, people from across the globe flock to Parkesdale Farm Market for its World Famous Strawberry Shortcake and strawberry milkshakes. At Parkesdale, “strawberries are king.” The famous shortcake recipe includes sliced fresh-from-the-field berries, atop a bed of shortcake and garnished with whipped topping. Parkesdale Farm Market also offers a full menu of the berry best sweet treats, including a full line of milkshake. Choose from over 10 signature flavors for a classic, indulgent milkshake sure to satisfy the taste buds.

3702 W Baker St, Plant City, FL 33563 | (813) 752-0502 Open daily from 9AM to 6PM

Other Nominees

Brooklyn Bridge Dairy Queen Norma’s Plant City Cuban Sandwich Shop Ole’ Tampa Cubans

Strawberry Hut BEST CUBAN

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stablished in 1993, the always popular Strawberry Hut has earned ten “Best Cuban Sandwich” awards. Six days a week, the 300-square-foot walk-up eatery is busy serving made-to-order sandwiches, soups, salads, real-fruit strawberry milkshakes and year-round strawberry shortcake. Longtime Plant City residents Troy and Betty Wilson never cut quality. They purchase fresh produce from the farmer's market and have fresh bread delivered daily from an Ybor City bakery. Their success, with God’s help, prompted them to open a second Strawberry Hut in early 2015—a 3,400-square foot, air-conditioned restaurant in Lakeland. They credit our local community for their 24 years in business. Betty explained, "We’re grateful that Plant City has been so good to us. Our customers feel like family.”

1505 N Wheeler St, Plant City, FL 33563 | (813) 752-3779 Mon-Sat 6:30AM to 6:30PM | Closed Sunday PAGE

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Other Nominees

813 Chinese China One Lin’s Express Hibachi Express

Wasabi Japanese Steakhouse & Sushi Bar BEST ASIAN

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asabi Japanese Steakhouse & Sushi Bar offers traditional Japanese fare with a one-of-a-kind dining experience. The contemporary restaurant offers Teppanyaki dining, where guests can watch their food be prepared right before their eyes. Each dish is produced with the highest quality ingredients and at Wasabi, customer satisfaction is of the utmost priority. The restaurant offers steak, seafood, a sushi and sashimi bar and premium cocktails, making Wasabi Japanese Steakhouse & Sushi Bar ideal for group celebrations and date nights for two.

203 W Alexander St, Plant City, FL 33563 | (813) 754-8866 Monday - Thursday 11AM–3PM, 5–10PM | Friday - Saturday 11AM–3PM, 5–11PM Sunday 12-10pm

Other Nominees

MAACO Jarrett-Scott Ford

Allen & Hector’s Elite Auto BEST BODY SHOP

A

llen & Hector’s Elite Auto is a full-service collision center, offering collision repair, painting, glass repair, and detailing services. Using the most state-of-the-art equipment, the team at Elite Auto can get your vehicle restored and send you on your way. Owned and operated by Allen Dood and Hector Cortes, Elite Auto works for you- not the insurance company. Whether your vehicle has a crushed bumper or if your windshield is cracked, the team at Elite Auto will work with you, on your schedule and at a price that can’t be beat. Allen & Hector’s Elite Auto has an A+ rating with the Better Business Bureau and has a 4.6 star rating on Facebook, with many reviews sharing satisfaction in Elite Auto’s attention to detail, trust in the staff, and that their vehicle looked brand new once the job was done. Next time you’re faced with a vehicle dilemma, pull into Allen & Hector’s Elite Auto for the best in customer service and a job well done. 1313 E Baker St, Plant City, FL 33563 | (813) 719-7900 Mon- Fri: 9AM-5PM PAGE

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Other Nominees

TEASE Hair Studio Textures

The Artistry Salon & Spa BEST SALON

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hen you’re ready to indulge in head-to-toe beauty treatments, look no further than The Artistry for a day of pampering. The Artistry is Plant City’s premiere salon and spa, offering hair services, nails, skin and massages. Treat yourself to a day of relaxation with a luxurious facial or be queen for a day as you receive a pedicure. The Artistry, owned by Ron and Jana Evers, employ an incredible staff of licensed hair stylists, nail technicians, estheticians and massage specialists to make sure you look and feel your best. Using only the finest products, The Artistry uses brands such as Redken, CHI, Paul Mitchell, and Revel Nail, just to name a few. The Artistry is renowned as a one-stop-shop for hair and beauty for formal occasions. From Prom to Bridal, The Artistry provides services such as hair styling, hair extensions, manicure and pedicures and even spray tans. Whether you’re looking for a day of a little TLC or need a team for your special day, call The Artistry to make an appointment. 1505 S Alexander St Ste 102, Plant City, FL 33563 | (813) 717-7700

Other Nominees

Carapezza Roofing Jewellco Roofing Company

Backbone Roofing BEST ROOFER

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lant City-native and third generation roofer Nathan Garrett and his team at Backbone Roofing treat each job with professionalism and care, whether it’s residential, industrial or a commercial property. The company serves Plant City, Lakeland, Tampa, Brandon and the surrounding areas with an expertise in roofing installation, maintenance and repair. Backbone Roofing offers a number of services including asphalt shingles, metal roof systems, flat roof systems, and emergency tarp service and much more. The crew undergoes continuous education to remain up-to-date with the latest industry knowledge and equipped with high-quality materials and tools, from Owens Corning, one of the industry's most renowned materials supplier. Nathan Garrett is proud of the strong, long-term relationships Backbone Roofing has built with homeowners and business owners. Backbone Roofing provides the strength you need and the character you can trust. Call Backbone Roofing today for a free estimate! 813-580-8611 | nathan@backboneroofing.com | License #CCC1331030 Mon-Fri 8AM to 5PM

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Other Nominees

Timberlane Pet Hospital & Resort Animal Wellness Center

Berry Patch Animal Clinic BEST VETERINARIAN

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hen your furry friend is ill or in pain, it’s time to call Berry Patch Animal Clinic for the best in veterinary care. Berry Patch Animal Clinic is a full-service veterinary medical facility. The knowledge staff is dedicated to treating your pet with gentle love and care, while performing the best possible medical care, surgical care and more. Berry Patch Animal Clinic, formerly Animal Clinic at Southside, is under new ownership. “We have an open door to welcome all new and existing clients from the past and will always have your pets’ best interest at heart because they can’t tell you what’s wrong,” said Belle Stansberry, Clinic Manager. “Come see us to discover what we can do for YOU and YOUR PET. Like you, we love pets like family.” Dr. Douglas Bandkau has been practicing veterinarian medicine for over 4 decades. He graduated from Michigan State University in 1979 and enjoys spending time with his two shih tzus and golfing. He is also a member of the American Veterinary Medical Association. The costs of veterinary care can be uneasy for folks, but no worries. Berry Patch accepts cash, all major credit cards, checks, and offers two payment services: Care Credit and Scratch Pay. Both options allow you to set up payment plans that fit your budget. Whether you’re welcoming a new puppy or kitten into your family or have a pet emergency on your hands, Berry Patch Animal Clinic is equipped to do it all. Call and make an appointment for your furry friend.

3012 James L Redman Parkway, Plant City, FL 33566 | (813) 707-0520 berrypatchanimalclinic.com | Monday and Friday: 8am - 6pm Tuesday- Thursday: 8am-5pm | Saturday: 8am–2pm | Sunday: Closed

Other Nominees

Universal Auto Sales Daniel’s Auto Sales

Billy Herold BEST AUTO DEALER – USED

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or the last 43 years, Billy Herold has helped families find vehicles they need for prices they can afford. In fact, he suspects he’s been involved in selling more than 25,000 vehicles in Plant City, perhaps more than any one individual. With a fondness for friendships and a lifelong passion for cars, his dealership specializes in clean, dependable pre-owned vehicles priced typically under $10,000. While Herold’s has more expensive cars on occasion, its primary focus is assisting people with cars, SUVs, and pickup trucks for the best price-value in town. Rather than buying auction cars, Herold’s purchases great trades from about a half-dozen new car dealers and individuals, too. Customer satisfaction, repeats, and referrals have built the reputation of Billy Herold’s Auto Sales, which is why the dealership provides a 30-day unlimited warranty, regardless of mileage. Let this expert put his experience to work for you. He’ll also offer advice if you’re looking to sell. Plain and simple, stop in. Billy Herold’s Auto Sales wants to earn your business! 201 E. Baker Street, Plant City, FL 33563-3417 | 813-767-6317 billyherold@hotmail.com PAGE

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Other Nominees

Crescent Jewelers Your Family Jewelers

Brown’s Jewelers BEST JEWELER

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ince 1986, Brown’s Jewelers has taken great pride in offering friendly, affordable service for all your jewelry needs. It’s a name you can trust for quality in fine jewelry, watches, and expert repairs. Plant City native Russell “Rusty” Brown started working with jewelry at age 15 when his dad learned the business from his brother-in-law, who was a gold wholesaler. Brown’s Jewelers is proud to bring experience and expertise to each job and is thankful for the support of the community. “We’ve built our family-owned and operated business through loyal locals and their referrals,” explained Rusty. “The kind people in Plant City and surrounding communities are friendly.” Brown's Jewelers specializes in fine jewelry, custom designs, and affordable repairs. They also offer free inspections and free cleaning. Showcases are filled with wedding, engagement and class rings, charms, necklaces, bracelets and watches. Whether you’re looking to repair a broken bracelet or to buy a new pair of earrings for her, look no further than Brown’s Jewelers. Rusty and his team are ready to help. 1705 Jim Redman Pkwy, Suite G, Plant City, FL 33563-6900 | 813-754-2360 plantcityjewelers.com | brownsjewelers@yahoo.com Tues-Friday 10AM to 6PM | Sat 10AM to 4PM | Mon & Sun Closed

Other Nominees

Bingham Septic Quality Septic

Calhoun Septic BEST SEPTIC

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uilt on family values and a strong work ethic, Calhoun Septic Tank Service has served the Plant City community for over 50 years. The honesty and integrity of this family-owned business is demonstrated in its longevity. Three generations of the Calhoun family have served the septic needs of the greater Plant City area including inspections, repairs, install and more. The family is preparing the fourth generation, with James Cole Calhoun training under his father and current owner Jay. “We do what we say we will do. We just want to provide quality service and be up front about what we are doing,” offered Jay Calhoun, third-generation owner of Calhoun Septic. Calhoun Septic Tank Service is proud to say they bring experience and expertise to every job. Calhoun Septic Tank Service offers a discount for active military, veterans and first responders for their service to our communities. Calhoun Septic makes your emergency a priority, scheduling service as quickly as possible to resolve your problem. The company is renowned for its quality work at competitive prices. From septic tank installation to drainage system installation to the repair of an existing system, Calhoun Septic walks customers through every step, treating each customer like family. The personal attention brings folks back to Calhoun Septic when faced with a septic emergency. 1510 Bonnie Rd,, Plant City, FL 33565 | (813) 752-9505 | Mon-Fri 7AM to 5PM

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You see them in Movies, T.V. Commercials and in Magazines!

KAITLYN KELLEY Kaitlyn just finished shooting a National Print Ad for L’ANZA Hair Products as a Featured Print Hair Model at $750.00 a Day! CALL FOR AN APPOINTMENT TODAY!

EMILY ROSE SIGAN BILL CAMERON For 20 years Bill has been featured in numerous TV Proud of you Emily for landing the National Commercials, Print and Catalog Ads, TV Shows and Print Ad for L’ANZA Hair Products as a Major Motion Pictures. We are so proud of you Bill! Featured Print Hair Model at $750.00 a Day!

They’re the JESS ANDERSON MODELS!

All ages & types needed • No experience necessary • Free training

SOUTH FLORIDA AVENUE, SUITE 115 • LAKELAND, FL 33813 863-688-9939 1037Established For 40 Years

JOSEPH ROMAN Joseph has finished working on a new TV Show and is also up for several TV Commercials and Print Ads.

LIC#1290000013

ARIANA DOEG Great job Ariana for landing the National Print Ad for L’ANZA Hair Products as a Featured Print Hair Model at $750.00 a Day!

DOUG MAKURAT Doug has just finished working on a new TV Show and is also up for several TV Commercials, Print Ads and Movie Roles. Congratulations on a job well done!

www.jessandersontalentandmodelagency.com

Jess Anderson index pg FEB20.indd 1

1/15/2020 8:15:25 AM

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Other Nominees

Dukes Chiropractic Health Clinic Dunn Chiropractic

Caring Concepts Chiropractic Clinic BEST CHIROPRACTOR

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xperiencing a stiff neck or a sore back? It’s time for a trip to Caring Concepts Chiropractic Clinic. Caring Concepts provides a state-of-the-art facility, with the most advanced technology to bring Plant City top notch chiropractic care. Caring Concepts has served the greater Plant City area for 30 years and is conveniently located on Baker Street. Caring Concepts is led by Dr. Todd Glenn and Dr. William Garrison; Together, the doctors have a combined 38 years of experience. Dr. Glenn attended Palmer College of Chiropractic, where he earned his Bachelor of Science and Doctor of Chiropractic in 1990. He is a member of the Florida Chiropractic Association. Dr. William Garrison earned his Bachelor of Science from Florida Southern College and attended Palmer College of Chiropractic where he graduated Summa Cum Laude with his Doctor of Chiropractic degree in 2007. He is also a member of the Florida Chiropractic Association. If you’re in need of pain relief due to auto accidents, work-related or personal injury, or a sports injury, make your appointment at Caring Concepts Chiropractic Clinic at 813-754-CARE

1215 W Baker St, Plant City, FL 33563 | (813) 754-2273 | www.caringconceptsinc.com/ Monday & Wednesday 8AM- 6PM | Tuesday 9AM-12:30PM | Thursday 9AM- 6PM Friday 8AM-12:30PM | Sat & Sun Closed

Other Nominees

Hillsboro Bank Regions Bank

CenterState Bank BEST BANKING INSTITUTION

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enterState Bank became one of Florida’s largest banking institution when it purchased Sunshine Bank and HCBF in 2017. CenterState opened two Plant City branches, one on James L. Redman Parkway and the other on Baker Streetto serve the needs of Plant City residents. The professional and capable staff are determined that the company’s five core values guide their operations: • Local Market Drive • Long Term Horizon • World Class Service • Relationship Banking • Faith and Family CenterState Hillsborough County Community President, Angel Gonzalez, has set his aim on the goal to make Tampa Bay a $1 billion market for the bank through acquisitions and organic growth. The professionals at CenterState look forward to meeting you soon and assisting with your every banking need of your family and business. 1804 James L Redman Pkwy, Plant City, FL 33563-6914 | 813-759-2265 Telephone Banking: 888-292-7005 | centerstatebank.com Hours: Mon-Fri 9AM – 5PM | Drive-thru 8AM – 5PM; Fridays until 6PM

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Other Nominees

Home Protection Pest Control Plant It Earth, Inc.

Cross Pest Control BEST INDOOR PEST CONTROL

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entrally located in Plant City, Florida, the licensed and insured family-owned Cross Pest Control has been helping residential, commercial, and industrial neighbors in Hillsborough, Southeast Pasco, Polk, Pinellas and Manatee counties become – and stay – pest free since 1952. In 2002, Terry Ballard became a partner in the Plant City business and in 2008, he purchased the company. Today, the company is run by Ballard’s daughter, Renita Boles. Together with her husband, they manage and operate Cross Pest Control with the same customer detailed service as her father. The trusted service providers at Cross, known for their longevity with the company, will take what is “bugging” you seriously. “We are truly grateful to have the opportunity to take care of your pest control needs,” said Boles. “We are thankful for your word of mouth advertising that grants trust and value to our company.” Technicians treat you, your home, or business with respect and about providing the best service. Utilizing an assortment of odorless, eco-friendly pest control options for the safety of your family, pets and environment, they can handle everything from annoying and dangerous bugs (including termites) to disease carrying rodents and roaches, Best of all, Cross Pest Control options won’t break the bank. Call today for a free estimate!

606 S. Evers St., Plant City, FL 33563 | 800-226-1571 | Info@crosspestcontrols.com Hours: Monday – Friday 8AM - 4:30PM

Other Nominees

Carapezza Construction Blue Skies Construction

Dykstra Construction BEST CONTRACTOR

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ounded by Vern Dykstra, Dykstra Construction has been a reliable, dependable, trusted name in construction in the Greater Plant City area since 1997. Today, the construction company is led by Vern’s son, Darry. Under Darry’s leadership, Dykstra Construction has become one of Florida’s leaders in statewide contracting and facility maintenance. Dykstra Construction specializes in commercial building, from design, ground up building, project management, extensive renovations and reimaging, remediation and restoration, the crew at Dykstra can do it all. Past projects include Circle K stores, Pilot/ Flying J Travel Center, as well as Hillsborough Title and Greater New Hope Anointed Ministries. Additionally, the company provides residential build services as well. From building onto your existing home or constructing an elegant custom home from the ground up, Dykstra Construction can make your dream home a reality. 1409 E. Baker Street, Plant City, FL 33563 | (813) 707-0082 www.dykstraconstruction.com | Mon-Fri 8AM to 5PM PAGE

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Other Nominees

Gould’s Air Conditioning & Heating Starboard A/C

First Response Heating & Cooling BEST AIR CONDITIONING COMPANY

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irst Response Heating & Cooling is the brainchild of Matthew Roberts and Bryan Chapman. The company was launched in 2018 and was built on the principles of honesty, fairness and trust. Plant City residents quickly learned First Response Heating and Cooling is the air conditioning company you can trust. With over fifteen years of experience, Roberts and Chapman understand how important it is for customers to feel confident and worry-free that the job will done right. First Response Heating and Cooling proudly offers A/C maintenance, service contracts, service repairs, new installations, free estimates and second opinions. The crew is available 24/7 for emergency service and with fully stocked trucks, the team can get your A/C back up and running in no time. First Response Heating & Cooling, LLC is different than other A/C companies because building a relationship with clients is at the center of everything they do. “We decided to have more of a relationship with our clients,” Roberts explained. “We make sure all of our clients are satisfied with our work. We follow up with every client to make sure the maintenance, repair or replacement went exactly like we said it would.”

712 E Alsobrook St Unit #6, Plant City, FL | Tel: 813-756-3899 1stresponsehvac1@gmail.com | www.1stresponseairconditioning.com Open 24 hours

Other Nominees

Hillsboro Bank Regions Bank

Florida Mortgage Firm BEST MORTGAGE LENDER

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n entrepreneur, U.S. Marine, proud husband and father, Nate Davis is blazing trails and turning heads in the mortgage industry. Florida Mortgage Firm, with 21 employees and one office, is ranked in the Top 1% of firms in the U.S. for mortgage brokerage volume, despite only originating loans throughout the State of Florida. Nate describes his company’s culture as Marine Corps meets big business initiatives with small town care. He’s also proud to be included in the 2018 Gator100, which honors the 100 fastest-growing Gator-owned or Gator-led businesses in the world. The company’s wholesale lending model enables it to offer better interest rates and costs than major national competitors because overhead costs are less and savings are passed onto you, the customer. The firm’s loan officers have an incentive to get you the best deal and close your transaction in a way that generates more referrals. As to their company, Nate and his wife Natasha know for certain that “Continual improvement is vital to our long-term success. We want to be THE best, not just Our best. Every client matters. Every transaction. Every time.” 2216 S Alexander Street, Plant City, FL 33563 | 813-707-6200 Floridamortgagefirm.com PAGE

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Other Nominees

Keene Plumbing True Plumbers

Freddie Mullis Plumbing, Inc. BEST PLUMBER

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he proof of quality work lies in a company’s reputation. The multiple awardwinning plumbing business has been owner-operated by lifelong Plant City resident Freddie Mullis for over three decades. This explains why the bonded and licensed Freddie Mullis Plumbing guarantees every job it completes. From service and repair, including re-piping and backflow prevention, to kitchen and bathroom remodeling, the company philosophy is: “You become our personal investment when you call on us. From diagnostics, repair, complete plumbing to service & repair, or kitchen and bathroom remodeling - we do it all, for you.“ Call today for friendly, professional and guaranteed service. 607 N. Merrin Street, Plant City, FL 33563 | 813-754-0317 | fmplumbing@aol.com

Other Nominees

Eye Express Value Optical

Gaffney Eye Clinic BEST OPTICAL CENTER

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r. Barry M. Gaffney, founder of Gaffney Eye Clinic, has provided thorough, quality eye care to the Plant City community since 1978. He is grateful to have acquired so many loyal patients and appreciates those who continue to visit the clinic; he is now seeing the fourth generation in some families! Because the practice continues to grow, Dr. Jeremy H. Gaffney joined the practice in June 2011 and Dr. Daniel G. Gaffney joined in October 2015. Dr. Jeremy Gaffney brings the latest in eye care practices to the clinic and in October 2011, he started the Dry Eye Center of Central Florida as part of the Gaffney Eye Clinic to help treat Dry Eye Disease. Dr. Daniel Gaffney specializes in medical and comprehensive optometry. Through continuing education and with the latest technology, the doctors offer the latest in ocular disease treatments and visual services, including glasses and contact lenses. The dedicated doctors and staff treasure each friendship and are always delighted to welcome new patients to their practice. Call for your appointment today!

2002 South Alexander Street, Plant City, FL 33563 | 813-754-3593 | Drbgaffney.com Mon, Wed, Fri: 8AM to 5PM | Tues: 8AM to 5:30PM | Thurs: 8AM to 6PM PAGE

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Other Nominees

Stone Ledge Manor Azalea Oaks Place

Grace Manor at Hunters Creek BEST ASSISTED LIVING

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hoosing a senior living community with loved ones can often be a difficult decision for families. At Grace Manor at Hunter’s Creek, located at 765 W. Grant St. in Plant City, Executive Director Sheryl Vitelli and her team provide a vibrant community with the services that put families’ minds at ease. Grace Manor takes day-to-day burdens off the minds of residents and their families while providing numerous onsite amenities, services and social activities. Meals are freshly prepared by the community’s chefs, with breakfast, lunch, dinner and snacks provided to residents. Fresh produce is delivered three to five times per week. In addition to health and wellness, safety is a top concern. Grace Manor is equipped with round-the-clock caregivers, as well as video surveillance, visitor/vendor technology and a gated community. Interested families can schedule a tour by calling Grace Manor’s family advisor at (863) 872-6222, or by calling the community at (813) 743-8701. To learn more, visit gracemanorhunterscreek.com 765 W Grant St, Plant City, FL 33563 | (813) 743-8701

Other Nominees

MAACO Jarrett-Scott Ford

Jarrett-Scott Ford BEST AUTO SERVICE

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arrett-Scott Quick Lane® Tire & Auto Center provides all the services your car or truck needs most, performed by factory-trained experts and on your schedule. The Jarrett-Scott team at “Florida’s Oldest and Most Trusted Ford Dealership” [est. 1912] takes great pride in the high level of customer satisfaction the dealership earns and the referrals it receives as a result. The dealership can take care of any make or model, using quality parts from trusted brands like Motorcraft® and name-brand tires from Goodyear, Continental Tire, Michelin and more. Common services include oil changes, belts and hoses, battery checks, cooling system, and brakes. Give Jarrett-Scott Ford a try and you'll see why life is better in the Quick Lane®.

2000 E. Baker Street, Plant City, FL 33563 | jarrettscottford.com Sales: 877-751-9729 | Service: 877-597-2603 | Parts: 844-338-9718 Dealership: Mon- Fri 8AM-5PM Quick Lane® Tire & Auto Center: Mon-Fri 7AM–6PM; Sat 7AM–3PM PAGE

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Other Nominees

ACE Realty McGrath Poppell & Co.

Keller Williams BEST REAL ESTATE COMPANY

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eyond their outstanding performance as Realtors®, Keller Williams Plant City agents live, work and believe in the community they serve and have been active participants in Habitat for Humanity, United Food Bank, Florida Strawberry Festival, YMCA, and other local organizations. Keller Williams Plant City is a member of the Suburban Tampa group, selling more homes than any other real estate company in Plant City. Keller Williams Realty takes a different approach to real estate, one that is built on personal touches, win-win relationships and positive results. Keller Williams of Plant City utilizes the latest technologies, market research and business strategies to exceed your expectations. More importantly, agents listen and that means the real estate team finds solutions that are tailored to you and your family. 1607 S. Alexander St., Ste. #102, Plant City, Florida 33563 | 813-966-4304

Other Nominees

Myers Cleaners Majik Touch Cleaners

Mango Cleaners BEST DRY CLEANER

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rom dry cleaning to laundry to wedding dress preservation, Mango Cleaners and Laundry is Plant City’s premiere laundry cleaning service. With convenient locations, Plant City residents trust Mango Cleaners for their laundry needs. Join the Mango Laundry Club and never do laundry again! With pick-up and delivery, club members load up their orange Mango laundry bags, the staff will sort the clothing according and wash, dry and fold, and deliver the fresh linens to your home or office. Mango Cleaners is your one-stop-shop for all things textile. The company also offers alterations, smoke/fire restoration, shoe cleaning and repair, as well as cleaning of bedding, table and drapery linens and area rugs. Don’t see what you need? Just ask! Mango cleans everything! Next time you have a laundry mishap, visit Mango Cleaners & Laundry, where the knowledgeable staff can take the stress out of your day.

416 N Alexander St., Plant City, FL 33563 | (813) 759-6858 1701 S. Alexander St., Plant City, FL 33563 | (813) 754-7768 Mon-Fri 7AM to 7PM | Sat 8AM to 2PM PAGE

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Loetscher Auto Parts, LLC SELL YOUR USED or JUNK CAR TODAY

813.752.3770 3302 SYDNEY ROAD PLANT CITY, FL BRING THIS AD IN AND RECEIVE

10% OFF Expires 4/30/2020

LOETSCHERAUTO.COM PAGE

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Other Nominees

Luke Carvalho [Edward Jones] Stephen Shouse [Edward Jones]

Michael Cameron

Cameron Financial Management BEST REAL ESTATE COMPANY

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ne thing fifth generation Plant City native Michael Cameron loves most about his work is the opportunity for friendships and community involvement. Cameron Financial Management provides assistance with investments, insurance, and financial planning. If you need advice regarding stocks, bonds, mutual funds, annuities, life insurance, gold, silver, college savings or any other money-related topic, "whether you have $1,000 or $1 million," Cameron looks forward to helping you with your needs and goals—and on your schedule. He enjoys his work of “quietly making money for people,” explaining, “It’s been a tremendous year for our clients.” ”People here are sincere, friendly and they want to help. This is my town, and these are my people. It’s a great place to live, serve, and connect." For a complimentary financial portfolio review and consultation—on a no-pressure, no-obligation basis—contact Michael Cameron, an advisor you can trust.

110 W. Reynolds Street, Suite 109, Plant City, FL 33563 | 813-759-8485 Cameronfm.com | Mon-Fri 9AM to 4PM | Sat & Sun Closed

Other Nominees

Walden Lake Car Wash Oasis Auto Bath

Octopus Car Wash BEST CAR WASH

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he Octopus Car Wash team’s experience in this industry dates back to 1960. The goal has always been to provide a clean, fast car wash using environmentally friendly products at a reasonable price. Florida’s climate means heat, humidity, rain, salt air, hot sun, and last but not least BUGS! It pays to be pro-active in protecting your investment with regular washes. In addition to its state-of-the-art brushless car wash technology, Octopus Car Wash also offers complete auto detailing and a variety of products to keep your ride looking its best. For details of interior, exterior and complete packages or a la carte services, visit octopuscarwashflorida.com. Also check out the company’s Charity Fundraising Program. As strong supporters of local schools, churches, non-profits and multiple individuals, Octopus offers an environmentally friendly, unique opportunity for your nonprofit organization's next effort. Shopping local is always a win-win!

1503 S. Collins Street, Plant City, FL 33563 | 813-754-0777 Hours: Mon-Sat 8AM – 6PM (Summer until 7PM | Sun 9AM – 5PM PAGE

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Other Nominees

Pelican’s Snoballs

Tennessee Jane Boutique Roots Taproom & Wine Bar Generation Fun Your CBD Store Paw-Berries Dog Bandanas The Wooden Spoon Diner Our Dream Kitchen

BEST NEW BUSINESS

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lant City residents Greg and Billie Jo Davis opened Pelican’s Snoballs on September 5. The Original New Orleans Shaved Ice location welcomes Plant City families to enjoy a kid-friendly atmosphere. Pelican’s SnoBall offers over one hundred flavors of shaved ice, ranging from Blue Raspberry to Cherry Cola and even non-traditional flavors like Dill Pickle and Toothpaste. All of the syrups are high fructose corn syrup free and gluten free with five sugar free flavors. Ask for your snoball to be “stuffed” with an ice cream center for an extra scoop of fun. Pelican’s offers indoor seating, as well as outdoor seating on a large patio, where family and friends can enjoy lively music, games, fun and laughter. The shop hosts youth events such as Spirit Nights, Trivia Nights and more. The shop also has excellent Wi-Fi and a charging station inside. Pelican’s SnoBalls also honors those whom have served our country with a special discount. “We are so proud of our military, law enforcement, as well as fire and rescue, so if you’re in uniform, you receive a $1 discount on any size to say thank you for your service to our country,” said Davis. 610 S. Collins Street, Plant City, FL 33563 | 813-759-1975 Mon- Sat: 12PM to 9PM | Sun: 2PM to 8PM | pelicanssnoballs.com

Other Nominees

I Hate My Trainer Powershop

Planet Fitness BEST GYM/FITNESS CENTER

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t Planet Fitness Plant City, enjoy a judgment-free zone as you work towards your fitness goals. All Planet Fitness members enjoy unlimited 24-hours access to the gym, with the support of a friendly, knowledgeable staff anytime you need it. PF Black Card® members receive additional benefits, including the ability to bring a guest for free and access to any Planet Fitness location nationwide. At Planet Fitness Plant City, members can use high-quality, brand name cardio and strength equipment, including weights, treadmills and much more. Whether you’re looking for one-on-one personal training or need help using the equipment, General Manager Nick Cesario and his team are there is provide the support you need. Ready to kick your fitness goals into high gear? Visit Planet Fitness today to sign up with either a Classic Membership for $10 per month or become a PF Black Card® member to take advantage of Planet Fitness’ other amenities, including massages, tanning and much more.

1864 James L Redman Pkwy, Plant City, Florida | (813) 704-6955 PAGE

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Other Nominees

Discount Screening True Aluminum

Plant City Awning and Aluminum Products, Inc. BEST ALUMINUM & SCREEN REPAIR

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ince 1961, Plant City Awning and Aluminum has provided high quality services to both residential and commercial properties. Owner Larry Johnson and his team continuously evaluate new products and materials to give customers a diverse line of screening options for the best value. From carports, patio awnings, and replacement windows, to screened rooms, pool enclosures, siding, soffit, and roof overs, look no further than Plant City Awning and Aluminum. Plant City Awning and Aluminum takes pride in the fact that the company has many repeat customers and has served the second and third generations in a customer’s family. Folks know for unbeatable customer service and a job well done, Plant City Awning and Aluminum stands out from the crowd. For nearly six decades, Johnson has kept one goal in mind: To provide quality products, competitive prices, and service before, during and after the sale.” If you’re looking to add value to your home or business, contact Plant City Awning and Aluminum. You can rest assured that Johnson and his team will see to it that the job is done right. 806 S Woodrow Wilson St. Suite 1, Plant City, FL 33563 | 813-659-2501 info@plantcityawningandaluminum.com

Other Nominees

John Aimes, MD Suncoast Pediatrics

Plant City Pediatrics BEST PEDIATRICIAN

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he professionals at Plant City Pediatrics believe “children are a gift from the Lord” and view patient care as an investment in our future. With a goal to provide the finest pediatric medical care available, the practices places priority emphasis on excellence, compassion, and cheerful service. As parents already know, it’s important to have a highly-regarded pediatrician’s number handy on their phone’s speed dial. When accidents happen, Plant City Pediatrics advises: “Call us first. We may be able to save you a trip to the ER.” The practice accepts new patients from birth to 18 years of age and accepts most insurances including the following Medicaid HMO plans: Amerigroup, Humana Medicaid, Staywell, and Sunshine Health. For great advice about the immunizations and medical assessments your child needs at specific ages or to access necessary forms before your child’s first visit, view the helpful website tabs. Remember, your child’s best medical care is only a phone call away- (813) 6599800 2370 Walden Woods Dr Ste A, Plant City, FL 33563 | (813) 659-9800 plantcitypediatrics.com | Office Hours: Monday - Thursday 7:30AM-6:00PM Friday 7:30AM-3:30PM | Phones on service daily from 11:30AM-1:00PM **Closed Saturday and Sunday

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Other Nominees

Green Life Environmental Consolidated Pest Control

Plant It Earth, Inc. BEST OUTDOOR PEST CONTROL

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stablished in 2003, Plant It Earth offers the best lawn care program at the most reasonable prices, with customer satisfaction the company’s top priority. Nothing makes the Plant It Earth team happier than green grass, healthy trees and shrubs, and a pestfree environment. The combination of expertise, personalized service, and attention to detail has made Plant It Earth the fastest-growing lawn care company in Central Florida. For lawn care, weed/pest control, and tree/shrub care throughout Central Florida, the benefits include: • No Contracts • Two technicians per truck • Custom mixed treatments • Quality service guaranteed Services focus heavily on the part of the yard you don’t see – the root system. Grass, trees, and shrubs require healthy roots to absorb the vital fertilizer and moisture that keep them nourished and green. Plant It Earth’s highly trained technicians uses a combination of application methods from granular application to liquid insecticides. Your lawn gets the proper blends of nutrients it needs during your very first application to begin correcting any problems or deficiencies. Technicians will evaluate your lawn, trees, shrubs, and pest management needs and customize a lawn repair plan just for you. Ask also about services such as irrigation, aeration, and fertilization.

3208 Sydney Road, Plant City, FL 33566 | 813-777-7938 | Plantitearthflorida.com

Other Nominees

Florida Insurance Center Allstate Insurance

Poppell Insurance BEST INSURANCE COMPANY

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stablished in 1964 as Harrell & Poppell Insurance, Reed Harrell & Tom Poppell began the insurance agency in Harrell’s mother’s living room. Tom later bought out Reed’s interest and the firm became Poppell Insurance. Now, the organization is under the leadership of Tom’s sons, Jon and Mark Poppell. As an independent agency, Poppell Insurance offers both commercial and personal insurance coverage from multiple companies, including Progressive, Auto Owners, and Travelers. Poppell Insurance aims to find insurance coverage that best fits their clients budgets and needs. The agency’s devoted staff is committed to being a leader in anticipating and exceeding client needs. Working with Poppell Insurance assures clients of having a high quality, cost effective risk management solutions for all their insurance needs. 503 W Dr Martin Luther King Jr Blvd, Plant City, FL 33563 | (813) 752-4155 poppellinsurance.com | Mon-Fri 8AM to 5PM

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Other Nominees

Myers & Wright, PA Edwards Platt Meyer, PA

Raulerson Castillo & Company BEST CPA

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he experienced and friendly professional accountants at Raulerson Castillo & Company believe: “You’ve worked hard to get where you are. You deserve a firm that works hard for you, too.” The firm offers a broad range of services for individuals, business owners, executives and independent professionals. Affordably priced services encompass nearly every aspect of financial life, including general accounting and taxation, IRS problem resolution, estates and trusts, business formation, financial planning, real estate and business sales. As a trusted advisor, Raulerson Castillo & Company provides outstanding service because of their dedication to the three underlying principles of professionalism, responsiveness and quality. To view the helpful tools, resources and information about the Raulerson Castillo & Company team members, visit rcwcpas.com. Call for a free initial consultation

1907 S Alexander St, Suite 2, Plant City, FL, 33566 | 813-752-6604 | rcwcpas.com

Other Nominees

My Town Barbershop City Cuts Barbershop

Sport Clips BEST BARBER

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port Clips of Plant City caters to the needs of men and boys. With guy-smart stylist, you’ll receive the haircut you want and leave feeling like the M.V.P. They offer a fresh take on barbershop amenities and services, such as a precision haircut, massaging shampoo, hot steamed towel treatment, and neck and shoulder massage. As stylist get to work on your hair, sit back and watch your favorite sports team on one of the shop’s many televisions. Sport Clips is made for men, providing efficient, quality service. Whether you’re looking for a fade, mohawk, a beard trim or hot steamed towel, the team at Sport Clips can help you leave feeling like a new man. Sport Clips offers free neck trims between haircuts. Customers rave about the atmosphere, great customer service and quality haircuts! Many parents recommend the Sport Clips team for boys and young men, as well. The energetic, professional staff are experienced with helping children feel at ease in the barber chair. Download the Sport Clips app to your smartphone to schedule an appointment today! 2404 James L Redman Parkway, Plant City, FL | (813) 853-0808 www.haircutmenplantcityfl.com Mon-Fri 9AM to 8PM | Sat 9AM to 6PM | Sun 10AM to 5PM PAGE

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Other Nominees

Dental Associates at Walden Woods Dr. Kelly Borders

Tooth Caboose BEST DENTIST

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he Tooth Caboose offers the finest in family dentistry and orthodontic care. The dentistry practitioners take continuing-education courses to provide start-of-theart care with the latest techniques and technology. Tooth Caboose offers pediatric dentistry, sedation dentistry, early interceptive treatment and orthodontics for adults, adolescents, and children. Its mission is to ensure that patients of all ages can have a smile they love, offering a variety of treatment options from traditional stainless steel braces, to more discreet clear braces and Invisalign® allowing patients to make the right choice for them. Today, The Tooth Caboose is led by Dr. Daniel Ruffolo, DDS, MS; Dr. Tanya Bejarano, DDS; and Dr. Steven Slavkin, DDS. The knowledgeable staff at the Tooth Caboose is dedicated to providing quality dental care in a relaxed atmosphere. The team at the Tooth Caboose is looking forward to helping your child achieve the best smile possible. If you’re looking for the best dental care in town, look no further than the Tooth Caboose.

2005 Thonotosassa Rd # B, Plant City, FL 33563 | (813) 754-2161 Mon-Thurs 8AM to 5PM | Fri-Sun Closed

Other Nominees

Williams & Moore Byrd & Barnhill

Trinkle, Redman, Coton, & Davis, PA BEST BARBER

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t Trinkle, Redman, Coton, & Davis, PA, clients will find a professional staff dedicated to providing qualified and personalized legal representation. The firm is located in the beautiful historic Hillsboro State Bank Building in downtown Plant City. Built around 1914, the historic building provides the perfect backdrop for Trinkle, Redman, Coton & Davis, PA, which is committed to timeless values, combined with upto-the-minute information, and cutting edge legal counsel, enable the firm to meet the needs of every client who comes through their doors. Since the firm’s beginnings in 1928, the legal team has been proud to be actively involved in the Plant City and West Central Florida communities that have been an essential part of their growth. Established by John R. Trinkle, the foundation of the firm’s success has been built on accountability and commitment, not only to the growing community but to the valued community of clients as well. The staff at Trinkle, Redman, Coton and Davis, PA over 100 years of legal experience and utilizes its expertise to maintain long-term relationships with clients. If you’re looking for a firm committed to legal excellence, while maintaining hometown values, then call Trinkle, Redman, Coton and Davis, PA to schedule a consultation. 121 North Collins Street, Plant City, FL 33563 | Tel: (813) 752-6133 PAGE

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Commercial Insurances: Aetna • Avmed • Blue Cross Blue Shield Cigna • Humana • MultiPlan • United Health Care Medicaid: Humana Medicaid • Simply Healthcare • Staywell United Health Care Medicaid • Sunshine Health

NOW ACCEPTING NEW PATIENTS Timothy B. Williams, D.O., M.Ed., F.A.A.P. • Emily Buchholz, P.A.-C Ashley S. Hunter, A.P.R.N. • Radhika Ranganathan, M.D., F.A.A.P. Chandra R. Williams, M.D., F.A.A.P. • Emily S. Zink, A.P.R.N.

Plant City Pediatrics believes that “children are a gift from the Lord”. We view patient care as an investment in the future of each child and take our mission very seriously. Our providers provide gentle, compassionate care to each patient. We truly view our services as a mission.

INNER 2020 W

BEST BREAKFAST BEST PEDIATRICIAN

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Other Nominees

Specialist Doctors’ Group WellMed at Plant City

Watson Clinic Plant City BEST PHYSICIAN

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atson Clinic Plant City offers quality services, compassionate care and a convenient location for Plant City residents. The physicians and medical staff encompass the fields of pediatrics and internal medicine and an on-site laboratory is available for quicker test results. Working alongside board-certified Internal Medicine specialist Dr. Manish Parekh at Watson Clinic’s Plant City location, Lindsey N. Wells, PA is a highly experienced certified physician assistant who provides a host of services designed to prevent and treat common ailments and diseases. Ms. Wells attended Warner University where she earned a Bachelors in Biology and Nova Southeastern University where she earned a Masters degree in Physician Assistant Studies. She is a member of the Florida Academy of Physician Assistants. Her areas of expertise include: General primary care services and preventative care, Diabetes, Hypertension, COPD, and Hyperlipidemia. Call Watson Clinic Plant City to schedule your appointment today: 813-719-2500 615 E. Alexander St., Plant City, FL 33563 | 813-719-2500 | www.watsonclinic.com Monday- Friday: 8AM to 5PM

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Gama The

Family FROM HUMBLE BEGINNINGS By Cierra Craft Tortillas are unarguably a staple of Mexican cuisine and used in many iconic Mexican foods. Whether it's tacos, burritos, or enchiladas, Mexican food wouldn’t be what it is today without tortillas. Since antiquity, tortillas have brought families together around the dinner table. But, tortillas have brought one Plant City family together and led to the building of a multidimensional and multigenerational family owned and operated corporation. In the 1980s, Guillermo and Patricia Gama saw a need for fresh tortillas in Plant City and throughout the state of Florida. In February 1987, they opened a small Mexican bakery and saved every penny to open a larger location and serve the needs for authentic Hispanic foods throughout the state. In the 1980s, they opened their first tortilla manufacturing company in mass, servicing the tortilla needs throughout the state. In 2001, the Gamas opened El Mirasol at its current location on Collins Street, where it became an all-in-one location for shoppers to purchase meat, groceries, produce and bakery items. Then in 2003, Patricia opened Mi Casa Mexican Restaurant, a TexMex restaurant to serve up the foods she was used to eating in Texas. In 2012, the family opened Mi Casa Mexican Restaurant & Cantina in Riverview, featuring a patio for customers to enjoy delicious margaritas and other drinks. Meet Guillermo, Patricia and their family- including Will Gama and Adriana Espinoza- and discover how this family built their success one tortilla at a time. PAGE

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Gama Family The

Living in Houston, Texas, Guillermo and Patricia met in the 1970s. Until the mid-1980s, they operated a small store in Houston. Then when the couple vacationed to Plant City- where Patricia had family- the couple relocated. "There were only two stores in Plant City owned by Mexicans when we moved here," Guillermo Gama told the Tampa Bay Business Journal in 1998. Upon their arrival, the Gamas saw a need in Plant City for fresh tortillas and with knowledge of food distribution, they began making tortillas and selling them in small batches. In February 1987, Guillermo and Patricia Gama opened El Mirasol on Turkey Creek Road as a small bakery offering Mexican pastries and candies. The Gamas dreamed of providing their family with a viable future. The couples’ son and current manager of El Mirasol, Will, describes his parents incredible work ethic. “They’re go getters, they hustled… they wanted to see it grow and one day have their kids help out,” said Will Gama. “I grew up watching that strive, their work ethic definitely inspired me.” They saved every penny until they could afford to move to a larger location. To keep up with the demand, they opened a larger location on Reynolds Street near the festival grounds for the mass production of corn and flour tortillas. In 2001, El Mirasol moved to its current location on Collins Street, where it became an all-in-one location for shoppers to purchase meat, groceries, produce and bakery items. El Mirasol’s Collins Street location is managed by Will Gama and his wife Angelica. “From 1988 to 2020, and three locations later, we are now the biggest Hispanic store in Plant City and surrounding areas with a full meat market, deli, bakery, ice cream shop, and grocery,” said Adriana Espinoza, Guillermo and Patricia’s granddaughter and Corporate Manager of El Mirasol, Inc. Espinoza said during this time, her grandparents built their 20,000- square foot tortilla factory at its current location on Airport Road, where thousands of tortillas are made from scratch, packaged and shipped out to Mexican restaurants and grocery stores through the United States and overseas. This was the first tortilla manufacturing company in the state of Florida, Production begins at 5:00 a.m., where the raw dough moves along a conveyor belt. It is then pressed flat and moved into a 365°F oven, it’s then cooled and packaged. Crispy and soft tortillas are made for food service, in a number of sizes, ranging from 4 inches to 13 inches. El Mirasol, Inc. specializes in flour, corn and flavored tortillas, including chocolate tortillas that are used for dessert dishes. On the retail side, El Mirasol, Inc. makes its own line of corn and flour tortillas and private label tortilla products for supermarkets, distributors and other tortillerias.

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At El Mirasol Bakery and Deli, guests order their food cafeteria style and can choose from a number of options including tamales and tacos to beans, rice and more. PAGE

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Gama Family The

Mi Casa Mexican Restaurant serves up a delicious menu of fajitas, tacos, and burritos.

Mi Casa es Su Casa

Mi Casa Mexican Restaurant on Thonotosassa Road is one of Plant City’s most cherished eateries, winning FOCUS Magazine’s Best Mexican Cuisine several consecutive years. Living in Texas, Patricia became accustomed to Tex-Mex cuisine, a Southwestern take on Mexican classic dishes such as tacos, burritos, and enchiladas.

“We also pride ourselves in our homemade yummy sangria, which by the way, is Plant City’s favorite,” added Espinoza.

In 2003, Patricia opened Mi Casa Mexican Restaurant to serve the flavors of Mexico and the Southwest to hungry Plant Citians and her TexMex recipes were a hit. Seventeen years later, Mi Casa has grown with customers coming from all over Florida.

To add to the ambiance of a trip to the Southwest, Mi Casa Mexican Restaurant is brightly painted with murals depicting river scenes and boats, among other imagery. The restaurant was built by a family, for families with a kids menu that includes tacos, chicken nuggets and corn dogs with fries.

“I think what makes Mi Casa so loved is that we treat all our customers like family,” said Epinoza. “We want them all to feel at home when they walk in. We try to provide the best customer service and food.” One of the cornerstones of the food at Mi Casa is that everything is prepared fresh daily from whole and fresh ingredients. One taste of their Guacamole appetizer is all the proof you need of truly fresh, delicious ingredients. Made with fresh avocados, lime juice and seasonings served on a bed of lettuce with tomatoes and pico de gallo, this appetizer is sure to please a crowd. PAGE

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The bar is stocked with draft beers and a selection of liquors for cocktails. Mi Casa often runs 2-for-1 specials and on Mariachi Night, Mi Casa serves up Patron Margaritas for $8.99. Guests are invited to listen to Mariachi music and enjoy a delicious meal and drinks every other Tuesday at 6:00 p.m.

Patricia saw how well Mi Casa was received, she decided to open a second location In Riverview in 2012. Mi Casa Mexican Restaurant & Cantina was born. Located on Big Bend Road, Mi Casa is situated on one of Riverview’s main thoroughfares. The cantina features a large outdoor patio with a fountain where guests can enjoy the beautiful Florida weather. “We’re still growing with a third location in the works,” said Espinoza.


Mi Casa has something for everyone and the restaurant is a family friendly place. Every two weeks, the restaurant has mariachi night, inviting guests to enjoy traditional Mexican music. PAGE

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Gama Family The

What the Future Holds

Over 30 years ago, Guillermo and Patricia Gama began their family business selling homemade tortillas to friends. Unknowingly, the Gamas set into motion what would become four companies: El Mirasol Inc. for tortilla manufacturing, El Mirasol Bakery & Deli, Mi Casa Plant City and Mi Casa Riverview. This husband and wife team worked together to build a viable future for their family.

El Mirasol Bakery and Deli is known for its tamales, to which are filled by hand each and every day.

“Coming from nothing to now having a legit business for our family shows that hard work, and determination can take you anywhere,” said Espinoza. “El Mirasol is a minority owned, female owned, Hispanic business. This means alot to us.” Working as a family has its challenges, but the Gama family is humble. “We always remain humble for everything we have,” added Will Gama. With the support of the Plant City community over the past 33 years, this minority owned and female owned business thrived and flourished into more than the Gamas could have ever imagined. With the next generation at the reigns, you may ask are Guillermo and Patricia ready to retire? Not exactly. A new tortilla machine was installed in the El Mirasol Bakery & Deli and Patricia was steady working, feeding the dough into the machine and ensuring that each tortilla produced was up to the El Mirasol standards.

At El Mirasol, true authentic Mexican food is at its core. Street tacos are made with pork or beef and topped with onions and cilantro.

"They keep busy by doing what they love which is visiting with our customers and overseeing that all is still going strong,” said Adriana Espinoza. “They continue to be our backbone, and without them we would not be where we are today.”

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El Mirasol’s bakery is stocked with various breads, tres leche cakes, and other desserts.


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GET YOUR PET READY FOR SPRING! Grooming Rewards!

5 grooms and get the 6th one FREE! We offer pet boarding in a state of the art facility with television for the pets to watch. We are located on 5 acres of land.

Call For Pricing on Boarding Or Grooming.

UNCLE G’S BED & BISCUIT 1821 Stephens Ln, Dover, FL 33527 Phone: (813) 689-6725 unclegsbedandbiscuit.com

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Brick City Bricks BY CIERRA CRAFT PHOTOS BY BRICK CITY BRICKS

The Williams family opened Brick City Bricks in February 2018.

Brick City Bricks owners Greg and Sandi Williams are active participants in the Plant City Chamber and Plant City Main Street. PAGE

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lant City’s historic downtown, like other cities, consists of locally-owned shops and restaurants like a quaint flower shop and a trendy coffeehouse, but on Reynolds Street sits a unique, niche retail shop unlike any other: Brick City Bricks. The new and used LEGO® shop has quickly become a destination for families and couples looking to tap into their creative side. Brick City Bricks owner Greg Williams is a veteran of the U.S. Navy Honor Guard and he and his wife Sandi are parents to four children: Samantha, Jordan, Jessica and Michael, and grandparents to their four grandchildren. Despite what many think, Williams’ love for LEGO® building did not begin with his childhood. He said his interest in the tiny building blocks started a few years ago, when he was playing with his grandkids. Then, Williams realized how valuable LEGO® sets could be and began investing in the toys throughout Bricklink, the largest online marketplace for buying and selling LEGO® pieces. It wasn’t until February 2018 that the Williams family opened Brick City Bricks as a- for lack of a better term- brick and mortar location. Customers can purchase individual pieces, such as mini figures (or “mini figs”) or buy boxed sets, including Williams’ best seller, nearly the 2000-piece Apollo Saturn V. Every Saturday morning, the shop hosts Breakfast and Build. For $10, kids receive a donut and build a small LEGO® build. The Breakfast and Build fills up fast each week with 20 to 22 kids in attendance per week. Brick City Bricks also offers camps, pizza and movie nights, and offers birthday parties for the smallest LEGO® fans making birthday planning a breeze for parents. However, kids are the only ones cashing in on a good time. On Valentine’s Day, Brick City Bricks invited couples out for a date night build and is looking into creating more events for adults. “We had a camp for kids and at one of the tables, it was all adults and they were all building mini figs and taking pictures of them and it was neat to see them having fun together,” said Williams. Brick City Bricks is an active member of the Plant City Chamber and was nominated for three Best of Plant City awards: Customer Service Award, Small Business Award, and New Business Award.


Brick City Bricks also organizes community wide events in collaboration with other downtown merchants. In October, Brick City Bricks partnered with 20+ other businesses during the Food Truck Rally to host a Trick-or-Treat downtown event, where parents took their children on a walking tour of downtown and each merchant passed out candy. Williams also hosts the annual events for May the 4th (Star Wars Day), Harry Potter’s Birthday, and Pokemon Day. Tub Treats created soap bars that resembled poke balls for Pokemon Day and The Kandy Shoppe made chocolate frogs for Harry Potter’s Birthday. Krazy Kup created special drinks for each of the events. Visitors participating in these special days could visit each of the participating shops for a special themed treat. Williams’ love for downtown and his desire to see it flourish led to a meeting with Vice Mayor Nate Kilton. “I want to see more niche retail spaces come to downtown and want communication with downtown merchants about the progress being made, so I decided to start a Downtown Merchants Association and met with Nate Kilton about,” said Williams. “He suggested I meet with Plant City Main Street and have the group under its umbrella, so I did. Nick Thurston will serve as the chair and all downtown merchants are welcome to share their thoughts, wants and needs. I want to get everyone involved in downtown development.” If you’re a parent looking for a unique space for your child’s birthday party or a lover of all things LEGO®, visit Brick City Bricks on Reynolds Street. You may find something that you can’t dare to part with like a strawberry built out of legos or a mini fig of your favorite movie character. To what does Williams credit his business success to? His family. “I couldn’t do it without my family, especially my wife,” said Williams. “We have a strong family and when you have a strong family, it brings families into the shop.”

Brick City Bricks hosts a number of kids birthday, camps and breakfast and builds.

Alex Hartz, the in-house masterbuild, and Greg Williams showcased Brick City Brick’s last project: A streetscrape of Reynolds Street. The scene includes LEGO builds of Tennessee Jane, Taco Piki, Brick City Bricks, and The Corner Store, among other shops. Williams said the shop began working on the showcase seven months ago.

107 E. Reynolds St. | Plant City, Fl 33563 | 813-756-6256 Mon-Wed: 10AM to 5PM | Thurs & Friday: 10AM to 7PM | Saturday: 10AM to 5PM | Sunday: Closed

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RISING STAR Noah

Williams By Taryn Storter

Noah Williams, a senior at Plant City High School, recently made it onto Sports Center for a basketball moment caught on video. Williams had been waiting for this special shot his entire high school experience. As the basketball team manager, Williams had the opportunity to “serve a wonderful group of young men.” His attitude of service is difficult to come by today. Growing up in Plant City, Williams played recreational basketball, as well as flag football. He also competed as a member of the PCHS junior varsity football team. He explains, “I was once told by my rec league coach that he appreciated my heart and love for the game, as well as my strength in defense.” When asked where he finds his motivation, Williams expressed, “I am inspired by the love of my Savior, Jesus, who gave all for me, so I try to give my all back. I am inspired by my little sister Faith , as I know I am in a position to set an example for her, and my little brother Ryan, as he looks up to me as an example of what a high schooler should be.” Williams believes that everyone should “fire their shot.” This is certainly what he did on January 31, 2020 when he was asked to play during the game on Senior Night. He stepped up to the challenge and when the ball was passed to him with seconds left on the clock at the half, he shot a three-pointer and made it. The entire crowd erupted in cheers and applause and his friends rushed the court as soon as the buzzer sounded. The feeling of victory was overwhelming. Williams’ determination and drive made this moment possible. Following graduation, Williams plans to attend the University of Tampa and eventually obtain a PhD in Theoretical Physics and either become a physicist or assistant basketball coach. Noah Williams has such a bright future ahead of him and a positive outlook that is contagious! PAGE

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Cheerleading Goes to Nationals High School

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or cheerleading teams across our area, competition season begins after football ends. Our city’s high school cheer teams put in countless hours of work to become one of the best cheer teams in the nation. Plant City High School, Durant High School, and Strawberry Crest High School all had incredible seasons leading up to the state and national championships. Each of these three teams has worked hard since the summer to prepare to make it to the highest level of high school cheerleading: the National Championship. PAGE

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Plant City High School

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lant City High School’s Varsity Cheer Team has had an incredible season. For the first time in the history of the program, the team qualified for nationals at the UCA regional competition in December when they placed second out of eleven teams in the state in their division. In all the mini competitions during the season, they placed no lower than third. The team was also the Western Conference Runner-Up and the FHSAA Regional Champions. Head Coach Karen Snapp, as well as Coaches Skotti Mesquita and Sara Kate Snapp (Karen Snapp’s daughters), have impacted the girls from the beginning of their high school journey. After tryouts were held in June 2019, Snapp expressed, “we knew we had an exceptionally talented group of girls this year and the potential to not only attend nationals for the first time, but to do well, was there.” At the state finals, the team completed their routine with zero deductions, placing third in the state in the small all-girl division. Their confidence was soaring as they went into their first national competition, just a week after the FHSAA State Championships. They

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prepared and practiced “full-out” the entire week before nationals. To make it to the finals at nationals, they would have to qualify in the preliminary and semi-final rounds. At nationals, the Plant City Cheerleading Competition Team placed sixth in the small all-girl team. This made them the highest placing team from Florida in the division. This team worked hard to leave a legacy, and they certainly have done so. Coach Snapp says, “the season is long, the team was pushed extremely hard, there were tears and frustrations, and practices were sometimes tough. But in the end, we were so proud of this team and what they accomplished. They have truly set the bar high for future teams but we are excited to start the season over in June and try to do even better in 2021.” The 2019-2020 Plant City Cheerleading team was comprised of: Mollie Badenhorst, Kaily Yacinich, Alex Fryer, Grace Gainer, Daisy Duke, Cherish Glenn, Tehya Lujan, Naomi Stevens, Kendra Pellicer, Madison Hood, Makenzie Cole, Bailey Brock, Hayley Duckson (alternate), and Jillian Sparkman (manager, encourager, hype-man).


Durant High School

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he Durant High School Cheerleading team started the season with 10 new members. Coach Nikki Hand worked very hard with the girls all season long to make it to the state and national competitions. Coach Hand explains, “The girls had to put in extra work to accomplish the elite skills that we had ended the previous season with. Cheerleading often comes with challenges and this year was no exception. Not only did this team have to deal with the standard slate of injuries, illnesses and scheduling conflicts, but they were also tasked with overcoming some next-level obstacles.” Through all the difficulties that faced the team, they persevered and went on to have an exceptional season. At their first competition of the season, the team placed second. They used this victory as momentum to work harder before the next competition, in which they placed first. After another first place win, the team secured a bid for nationals. They also won regionals in the medium varsity all-girl division, earning a spot in the state finals. At states, the girls placed third against very tough teams from all over Florida. Going into the national competition on, Coach Hand says, “We knew competing in the medium all-girl division at nationals was going to be difficult, as it’s one of the toughest divisions. Our performance during prelims was certainly not our best or the outcome we had hoped for but we take it as an opportunity to learn and grow from the experience. One moment cannot define what this team has conquered and accomplished all season.” The Durant Cheer Team placed 13th in the preliminary round of the national competition. This is an incredible accomplishment, as they were in a very tough division. The 2019-2020 Durant Cheer Team included: Marina Hawkins, Tori Lumley, Tracy Hodge, Ava Reuter, Kinleigh Doiron, Avery Surrency, Samantha Pimentel, Ava Starck, Amaya Toro-Ezell, Morgan Fisher, Regan Williams, Taylor Van Wagner, Rylie Vasquez, Marissa Steiner, Mya Hubbard, Macie Jordan, and Stephanie Estrada. PAGE

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Strawberry Crest High School

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he Strawberry Crest Coed Cheer Team has made history. Not only have they won their 6th consecutive FHSAA State title with a score of 89.7, making them the highest scoring 2A team, but they also won the National Title in the small Coed Traditional division. The team entered two coed divisions at the national competition: game day and traditional. In the brand-new division, game day, the team earned a bronze medal, placing third. This is an amazing achievement, since it is their first time competing in this category. The second day of nationals, the team competed in the traditional division, where they finished first in the preliminary round, advancing them straight to finals. In the final round, the team competed against Blackman High School, the 3-time consecutive national defending champions.

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Coach Loveny Rivas Savarino explains, “despite the ESPN interviews backstage and having cameras swarming the team, their nerves stayed steady and had a dynamic performance. For the first time ever, not only in school history, but for Hillsborough County as well SC COED became National Champion. This is also the first time in 17 years that Blackman or Sparkman High School did not win the small coed division. Strawberry Crest High School made history by finishing 1st out of 45 teams.� The 2019-2020 Strawberry Crest Cheer Team consisted of: Diamond Burgos, Caitlyn Daniels, Aloanys Gil-Ramos, Trinity Perry, Justin Pulaski, Mikenzie Shiflett, Madison DeShong, Heather Heinze, Samya Paris, Lauren Abbey, Emili Alfieri, Karis Dell, Dakota Grigson, Rhylee Blackmon, Sophia Crow, Sarah Fabel, Savannah Jenkins, Grace Lebrun, Kira McClard, Trinity Norris, and Krystina Seufzer.


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Meet the

Maker: David Rothman By Heather Davis Photography by Cierra Craft

T

his past week I had the pleasure to sit down with artist David Rothman as he opened up and shared with me his deepest feelings on life, art and his faith. For years, seemingly with little effort, David has always created art that inspires awe and amazement at his skill level and expertise. Life has showered him with abundant talent and opportunity that has taken him far artistically speaking. But, even with success and natural talent, David shared with me that he felt that something was missing. Having both an analytical and creative mind he spent many years searching and reading books on many faiths and religions. Just recently he returned to reading the Bible and he felt as if his eyes and mind were opened up as the word hit him in the heart. The all encompassing message of love that Jesus and God has for mankind was soothing to his soul and as a result that same love and peace imbues forth from him when in his presence. This way of life for him is reflected in all he does and is deeply evident in his art. Now instead of just creating from the physical level he has tapped into a deeply spiritual place and way of being. In the essence of this much of his artwork reflects creation and nature. Besides painting on canvas, David also paints bigger than life murals on buildings such as restaurants and businesses. When not creating art, David spends time in nature surfing and being close to his family, namely his daughter, Hailey, who he adores. Also an active member in church, David has created art work for the local event “Love our City�, sponsored by First Baptist Church, Plant City. For a time, he was also an art therapist for the Prodigy Cultural Arts Program with Greater New Hope Ministries. This past June, David took part in his first missionary trip where he visited Rome and surrounding cities. It was on this trip that he had a life changing moment, which he described as greater than seeing the art in the Vatican, of praying in the street with a young man whom he had just met. This experience has led him to want to be a part of more missionary trips in the near future. One can not help but be touched by the heartfelt message and love that David feels for Jesus and for others. It seems to imbibe his spirit and reach out in such a way that is healing. The future is bright for David as he endeavors to create art in way that reflects this bright faith that lives within him. It will be amazing and life affirming to see how this all comes together for him as life unfolds and even more inspiring to see the lives he will be allowed to touch.

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Leaders in

Faith Pastor Mike Rippy, First Baptist Church of Midway By Cheryl Johnston

M

ike Rippy and Jenifer, his wife of 17 years, grew up in Lakeland. There he invited Christ into his life at age 14 while attending Gapway Baptist Church. Together they enjoy family time and fishing with their two daughters – Abigail, 15 and Ava, 10. The senior pastor at First Baptist Church of Midway graduated from Southeastern University in 2009. He had served at Midway as youth pastor for 10 years before being called to his first pastorate, the Turning Point Baptist Church in Mulberry, a congregation he led for five years. What do you enjoy most about your work? I get to function in the God-given role the Lord has called me to and blessed me with. I love that I get to share God’s Word with God’s people. I love being with the church and seeing the church growing and becoming all the Lord has intended it to be. Do you have a favorite Scripture passage? I have always loved the book of Colossians and almost had the whole book memorized at one time. When I first read Colossians, the theme of Paul’s writing and the message contained in it really spoke to me.

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How do you most enjoy sharing your faith? I enjoy developing personal relationships with others. I believe some of the best ways people come to Christ are in seeing how Christ has and does make a difference in your life daily. How does Jenifer help you in your ministry? The Lord has blessed Jenifer with the gift of administration, one which I don’t possess. In 2019 she played a big role in helping to get our 120th Homecoming Celebration together when many former Midway members returned to take part in the day. She is blessed also with the ability to connect with people in ways I am not. This is a great help to me in life and in the life of our church. She loves to plan things and get people involved. What would you suggest to those considering the Christian faith? I would advise them to look at the claims of the Bible and of Christ Himself. The Bible has and is proven to be trustworthy and true. It’s message is timeless. Read the Bible with an open heart and mind and allow God to speak the truths to you and then trust in Jesus Christ as the true and only way to heaven.

And to those already following Christ? I would suggest they make sure to be plugged into God’s Word every day and become involved in a church. All Christians need to be growing in their relationship with God and be connected in a local church where they are serving, growing, and worshipping with other believers. Describe what you enjoy about serving in Plant City. The hometown feel in Plant City is very special and we love that our family can be involved in a town where people genuinely care about each other. We love also that our girls can be raised in a place where Christian values are still present. First Baptist Church of Midway at 2902 Midway Road welcomes all to its Sunday services at 10:30 a.m. and Wednesday night classes for all at 6:30 p.m. Visit online at fbcmidway.org, on Facebook, or phone 813-752-7209 for more information.


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Before

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SPONSORED BY

Candy’s Corner By Candy Owens

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elcome sweet springtime we greet Thee in song. Flowers awake ye burst into bloom, springtime has come and summer is nigh, sing ye birds oh sing. Sunshine now wakes all the flowers from sleep. Joy giving incense floats on the air, Ah! how my heart beats with rapture a new, as earth’s fairest beauties again meet the view. Oh! How I love to see spring make its’ return. I love to see and smell all the beautiful flowers in bloom, I love to eat all of the delicious fruits and vegetables that are at their peak, especially the melons and berries, and I love to go outside and take in all of the natural beauty that comes only with spring. I can remember as a child playing out in the front yard on a sunny, breezy, spring afternoon and hearing the wind blow through the corn stalks in my father’s garden. I can remember watching my mother hang wet clothes on the clothes line in the back yard, seeing the towels flap back and forth in the wind and sun as they dried, and smelling the Cheer detergent and Downy fabric softener. I can remember cupping my hands over my eyes and looking up at the sky to watch a single airplane putter through the clouds and thinking to myself that God made all of this. Back when I was a little girl in the early 1960’s, people spent a great deal of time outside. People would sit out on their front porches and talk or just sit there quietly enjoying the fresh air. Kids would almost always play outside. We hardly ever sat in our bedrooms and played unless it was raining or we were sick. I can remember my mother helping us spread an old blanket out in the front yard for us to sit on so we could color in our coloring books, play a game, read, or just talk. Sometimes we would just lie back on the blanket, stare up at the sky, and make pictures with the clouds. We played dolls, dress up, school, and Cowboys and Indians. We rode our bikes and trikes, and pulled our wagons a million miles. We Hula Hooped, built forts, and took long walks. We played ball, turned cartwheels, ran races, played hide and seek, played under the water hose, drew on our Etch-A-Sketches, played board games, cards, and ran through the sprinklers. We as kids had every reason to play outside on a beautiful day in spring. One of my favorite childhood memories of playing outside on a beautiful and sunny spring afternoon was when my sister and I got a brand new Slip ‘N Slide. The Slip “N Slide was a water toy manufactured by Wham-O in 1961. The toy was a long sheet of thin plastic, flanked lengthwise on one side

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by a sealed tubular fold. The tube could be attached to any ordinary garden hose. Water ran through the tube and out small perforations, spraying onto the sliding surface, which became very slippery and allowed kids to take a running jump onto the plastic and slide the length of the sheet. Boy, did we have fun! We were the envy of all the kids in the neighborhood!!!!! Until…..well….all the bumps and bruises. My sister and I invited all the kids in our neighborhood to come over and try out our new Slip ‘N Slide. The kids lined up and giggled with excitement as they each waited their turn. Well it all went well until everyone got impatient and took running jumps and we all landed on top of each other. I think I came out of that experiment with a busted lip. Before too long there were reports on Television and in the Newspapers where kids had suffered sprains and even broken bones from their Slip ‘N Slides. That is all that it took for my parents to say: “NO MORE SLIP ‘N SLIDE!” My sister and I were not happy with that choice. I remember my Father putting our prize possession water toy in the garbage. Well the next day when my Father was at work and my Mother was inside the house doing something I went straight to the garbage can and retrieved my Slip ‘N Slide. I put it out in the front yard, hooked it up to the water hose, and even went inside the house and got my Mother’s liquid dish soap. I was going to make it all the more interesting. Several of the neighborhood kids saw me doing this and decided to join in the fun. We were having a blast!...... Until my Father came driving up. You have never seen little kids run away so fast! There I was…. all by myself, just me, the bottle of liquid dish soap, a yard full of bubbles, and the Slip “N Slide. Needless to say: after it was all over “I never Slipped “N Slidded Again! I have another favorite memory of Spring and that is when my Granny and Granddaddy Owens would have us over for homemade ice cream. My Grandparents would take a trip to South Carolina every year and return home with watermelons, cantaloupes, and peaches. My

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Grandmother would cut up a basket of fresh peaches, cover them with sugar, and let them sit overnight to make a heavy syrup. We would all gather in their carport and sit around in folding chairs talking and waiting on our turn to help churn the ice cream. It seemed like it took forever for the ice cream to freeze. Once it was ready, my Grandmother would go in her kitchen and return with the big bowl of peaches and a tin can of Hershey’s Chocolate syrup (There were no plastic bottles back then.) Boy! Now that was good eatin! Every Spring my Mother and Father would fill our yard and the flower pots on our front porch with Petunias, Pansy, and Snapdragons. My sister and I would help water the flowers every day and we waited with excitement to see the first flowers bloom. My Father would always take a picture of my sister and I standing beside our beautiful blooming flower pots. We would pick a few flowers at a time and take them to our teachers for their desks or put a few in a bowl of water for our Mother. It has been many years since I have tasted a bowl of homemade ice cream with Granny’s peaches, stood beside one of my Father’s blooming flower pots, or taken a dive head first on a Slip ‘N Slide, but every Spring when I smell the fresh peaches and I plant pretty new flowers in our flower pots, or I hear a single airplane buzzing through the clouds I smile and think of how God made the Spring time and all of this for us. As for the Slip ‘N Slide… well, I think that I will just forget about that! HAHA!


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The Corner Store Eat Well or Die BY CIERRA CRAFT

121 E Reynolds St Plant City, FL 33563 (813) 754-0900 Thecornerstore.co Mon-Fri 8AM to 6PM / Sat 10AM to 3PM Sun Closed

W

hile living in San Francisco, California, Cynthia Diaz worked at a Farmers Market, where she became educated on the connection between seasonal produce, growers, and consumers, and what could be created with locally grown produce and products. When she and her husband Joe moved to Plant City to care for Joe’s ill mother, Cynthia began searching for produce and sustainable products like the ones she was used to in California. “I was driving to Sarasota to purchase groceries at Whole Foods,” said Cynthia. In December 2007, the Diazes opened The Corner Store, a natural food grocery store and restaurant. Cynthia’s mission is to promote a healthier way of living by using sustainable products and practices, and to support local and organic agriculture. The couple opened a health food store when national chains and processed pre-packaged foods were the norm; Cynthia knew The Corner Store’s concept would perform better in Tampa or Lakeland, but she was dedicated to bringing something revolutionary to Plant City. Cynthia said some didn’t believe her business would thrive. “Some people told me ‘you’ll never make it,’” said Diaz. The Corner Store offers locally grown produce, dry goods, spices, spreads, and oils, and healthy snacks. Parkesdale Farms jarred jams and preserved are available along with beers and ciders locally brewed by Crooked Thumb (Safety Harbor, FL) and Keel Farms. “I wanted to have everything in here as local as possible,” said Diaz. The restaurant partners with Steed Farms, Eco Farms, Wish Farms, Parkesdale, and others to incorporate as much local produce and products into its menu. While the eatery may be centered about sustainable, organic and/or locally sourced ingredients, Diaz encourages newcomers to The Corner Store with open arms. Recently, The Corner Store partnered with Roots Taproom and Wine Bar, supplying the bar’s charcuterie platters and gourmet grilled cheese sandwiches. The Corner Store hopes to partner with more farmers,

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The Corner Store crew is proud to present sustainable, whole food dishes to downtown Plant City. Cynthia Diaz (center right) said her team each bring their own unique skill to The Corner Store.

Strawberry Walnut Salad, $10.99


businesses and purveyors. There is a misconception that eating sustainable, local and organic is expensive. But at The Corner Store, meals are inexpensive and healthy. Lunch meals start at as little as $6.00 for a cup of soup. “We care about making everything as delicious as possible and using the best quality ingredients available,” said Diaz.

Must Try Menu Items: •

The Chicken Goat $10.99 Grilled chicken, goat cheese, dijon mustard, house sundried tomato aioli with spinach, tomato, red onion in a whole wheat wrap. Served with pita chips or potato chips and fresh fruit. The Gobbler- Seasonal Item House roasted turkey, homemade cranberry sauce, and a fresh-baked butter croissant with dijon, provolone, and fresh spinach. Strawberry Walnut Salad $10.99 Crisp greens, creamy goat cheese, housemade candied walnuts, and Wish Farms fresh, sweet strawberries with our citrus vinaigrette.

Sweet Tooth $13.00 per person Half salad / half sandwich, chips, assorted fruit, cookies and brownies or whole sandwich, chips, assorted fruit, cookies and brownies per person. All The Way $15.00 per person Whole sandwich, half salad, chips, assorted fruit, cookies, brownies, and iced tea or whole salad, half sandwich, chips, assorted fruit, cookies, brownies, and iced tea per person.

The Corner Store is a true community partner, hosting a number of events throughout the year, including Rhythm & Rhyme, Yoga & Mimosas, and during the Plant City Main Street Food Truck rallies, The Corner Store hosts a family nights with coloring sheets for kids. Soon the popular eatery will host an Open Mic Night event. Diaz says the space is not just a lunch spot, but is great for business meetings and events such as baby showers, reunions, birthday parties, etc. The Corner Store is a member of the Greater Plant City Chamber of Commerce and Plant City Main Street. “I am really excited to see the changes coming to downtown,” said Diaz. “I think things are heading in the right direction.” She hopes to one day keep the restaurant open from 8AM to 8PM to feed the lunch crowd and be a part of the nightlight. The Diazes can’t take credit for all of The Corner Store’s success. A few years ago, their son was diagnosed with pediatric cancer. Cynthia said her crew stepped up to keep the store running while she was tending to her son. She is also thankful to the community for their support. “The community rallied around us and kept the store going,” said Diaz. “I am so thankful to my crew as well. I was dependent on them for about 4 years. I also couldn’t do this without my husband.” The Corner Store crew consists of Lucy Wheeler, Lisa Campagna, Jessica Greenbaum and Savannah Browning. Diaz says each are great at what they bring to The Corner Store. When the Diazes opened their doors twelve years ago, they dreamed of becoming a cherish local hotspot with good food enjoyed by good friends. They have achieved just that. Craving a delicious sandwich or a crisp salad full of flavor, take a stroll down to The Corner Store, at the intersection of Palmer and Reynolds streets. For information on upcoming events and the release of The Corner Store’s Spring menu, visit them on Facebook @eatwellordie

The Reuben: House roasted corned beef, homemade thousand island dressing, Bubbie’s kraut and provolone cheese on homemade rye bread.

Feeding a crowd? No worries. The Corner Store is available for catering, for groups of 10 or more. Groups of 10 or more receive a complementary gallon of iced tea. Catering options include a number of platters or one of these catering meal options: • Bare Minimum $11.00 per person Half salad / half sandwich, chips, and assorted fruit or whole sandwich, chips, and assorted fruit per person. PAGE

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Plant City

Happenings MARCH

20

Krack Me Up Komedy Show Night 7:33PM Comedy | Family-Friendly Krazy Kup @ 101 E. J. Arden Mays Blvd. Cost: $5 at the door, cash only Info: Krazy Kup, 813.752.1220

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Pixar Trivia Night! 8:33PM Trivia | Family-friendly Krazy Kup @ 101 E. J. Arden Mays Blvd. Cost: Free Info: Krazy Kup, 813.752.1220

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Corn Hole Tournament 10:00AM Tournament | Causes AMVETS Post 44 @ 5521 State Road 60 E. Cost: $10 per individual; $20 per team; benefiting Paws for a Cause Info: AMVETS Post 44, 813.756.6944

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Petey’s Birthday: Cheers and Beers to 13 Years 11:30AM Fundraising | Animals Keel & Curley Winery at Keel Farms @ 5210 Thonotosassa Road Cost: By donation, benefiting the Humane Society of Polk County Info: humanesocietyofpolkcounty.org

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Plant City Lions Club Open House 6:00PM Networking | Clubs Hampton Inn @ 2702 Thonotosassa Road Cost: Free Info: Plant City Lions Club, plantcitylions.org

9:00AM Yoga | Wine Keel Farms @ 5210 Thonotosassa Road Cost: $10 drop-in; includes one drink voucher Info: The Koa Yoga Studio, 813.323.2931

Graceway Church Mission Yard Sale 8:00AM Clothing | Housewares | Furniture Graceway Church of Plant City @3106 S. Wiggins Rd Cost: Price per items, free parking Info: Elizabeth Taylor, 813-752-4879

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The Writers’ Loft 6:00PM Writing | Networking Krazy Kup @ 101 E. J. Arden Mays Blvd. Cost: Free Info: Angela Ardrey, 813.376.8148

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Sangria Night at Keel Farms 4:00PM Sangria | Food Vendors | Latin Entertainment | Pet-Friendly Keel Farms @ 5210 Thonotosassa Road Cost: Free admission Info: info@keelandcurleywinery.com

Hope Awakens! Plant City Community Chorale Spring Concert 7:30PM Concerts | Faith Nativity Catholic Church @ 705 E. Brandon Blvd., Brandon Cost: $12 advance; $15 at the door Info: pccchorale.org

11:00AM Tea | Faith First United Methodist Church of Plant City @ 303 N. Evers St. Cost: Free; silent auction to raise money for church ministries Info: First United Methodist Church of Plant City; 813.754.3519

07

5:00PM Food Trucks | Family-Friendly McCall Park @ 101 N. Collins St. Info: facebook.com/plantcitymainstreet

UnWINEd Yoga by the Koa Yoga Studio and Keel Farms

Easter Tea

APRIL

Last Friday in Downtown

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Walk for Life Fundraiser | Walk Pregnancy Care of Plant City @ 304 N. Collins St. Info: plantcitypregnancycenter.org

Yoga in the Park

10:00AM Yoga | Health McCall Park @ 101 N. Collins St. Cost: Free. Registration required. Info: plantcitymainstreet.com

PCHS FFA Alumni Meeting 6:00PM FFA | Meetings Plant City High School @ 1 Raider Place Cost: Free Info: @PCFFAAlumni on Facebook

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Ellis-Methvin Park 2 Person 5K & 10K Relay 7:30AM Walking | Running | US Road Running Race Series Ellis-Methvin Park @ 2401 E. Cherry St. Cost: $24 5K; $29 10K; $50 10K Relay Info: Buy tickets at runsignup.com; usroadrunning.com


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Glow in the Dark Easter Egg Hunt

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7:00PM Easter Egg Hunt | Family-Friendly | Faith Faith Lighthouse Church @ 3409 Paul Buchman Highway Info: Faith Lighthouse Church, 813.752.1885

Family Easter Eggstravaganza 10:00AM Eater Egg Hunt | Family-Friendly Grace Manor at Hunter’s Creek @ 765 W. Grant St. Cost: $8; includes BBQ lunch Info: Grace Manor at Hunter’s Creek, 863.873.6222

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Easter Picnic & Egg Hunt

Tampa Bay Blueberry Festival

10:00AM Easter Egg Hunt | Picnic | Family-Friendly Hopewell Baptist Church @ 6001 County Road 39 S. Cost: Free; bring a side dish for lunch Info: Hopewell Baptist Church, 813.737.3053

Weekends 8AM - 6PM Festival | Food and Drink | U-Pick Keel Farms @ 5210 Thonotosassa Road Cost: Parking, $10; U-Pick, $6 per pound, $6.50 per pound with credit card Info: info@keelandcurleywinery.com

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SPONSORED BY

Celebrating Easter Created by Calvin R. and Jackie Mathews

CELEBRATING EASTER

WELLS MEMORIAL FUNERAL HOME 813-752-1111

ACROSS 1. Unpleasant spouses 5. Recipe direction 9. Hairy one 12. Word of disgust 16. That French lady 17. Sets of symbols 19. Mine discoveries 20. Church court 21. Easter table centerpiece 24. Unfolds 25. Dig a new burrow 26. Alpine goatherd song 27. Circular decoration 28. Singer James 29. New Zealand evergreens 30. Gag 31. City resident 34. Comfortable __ old shoe 35. Beasts of burden 36. Solidify 39. Easter dinner dishes 43. Housetop border 44. Gofer 45. Matador’s encouragement 46. Jackie’s O 47. “__ ill wind that blows...” 48. Decomposes 49. Easter morning activities 54. “Don’t tell!” 55. Amigo 56. Coughs harshly 57. Pass 58. Injure 59. Thick drinks 60. Light gas 61. Cry of approval 64. Dish out 65. Flying: pref. 66. Apple product 69. Easter basket contents 72. Singer Vikki 73. Crackers 74. “__ Married an Axe Murderer”; 1993 movie 75. Take to court 76. “__ bigger and better things!” 77. Curry & Cusack 78. Easter candies 84. Eliot’s monogram 85. Rugged vehicle 86. Word on a pencil 87. Twangs 88. Word with root or near 89. “Waiting for Lefty” playwright

90. 91. 94. 95. 99. 100. 102. 103. 104. 105. 106. 107. 108. 109.

Came to earth Adds up Take an __; fell Phony displays of courage To no __ Easter bonnet adornments Shabby; dilapidated Luth. or Meth. “__ a Grand Old Flag” Reel backwards Word of regret Pet sound Insects Goofs

20. 22. 23. 27. 29. 30. 31. 32. 33. 35. 36. 37. 38. 40. 41. 42. 43. 47. 49. 50. 51. 52. 53. 55. 58. 59. 60. 61. 62. 63. 64. 65. 66. 67. 68.

DOWN 1. Lincoln’s place: abbr. 2. __ vera; lotion ingredient 3. Fill, and then some 4. Successions; series 5. Aromatic 6. __ bale; carry hay 7. Singer Billy 8. Striped-shirt wearer 9. Late March baby 10. Strip 11. Alphabet member 12. Indian dollar 13. Territory 14. Beautician’s offering 15. Wide band 18. __ fox; devious 19. __ gray; aged 1

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70. Sunday morning volunteer 71. Actor Rob __ 72. British cop 78. Grades 79. Out __; no longer insolvent 80. Be dishonest with 81. Shakespearean title character 82. Starts taking off a corset 83. Unsuspecting 85. Toast topper 88. Heckles 89. Yoke part 90. “__ Breed”; 1981 George Kennedy movie 91. Skater Lipinski 92. Shape 93. “See ya!” 94. River in Yorkshire 95. Depressed 96. Accomplisher 97. One with obligations 98. Moldova and Uzbek, once: abbr. 100. Record letters 101. Wail

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by Calvin R. & Jackie Mathews

Stoppers Loosen Herbert Hoover, e.g. Stovetop items Not as wild Actor Farr Powerful rulers Mixtures Distance across Playgrounds Add fuel Buttermilk’s rider Slowly, in Latin Boring Astringent Pulls hard Allen, for one Dome-shaped abode Main Cautious Split down the middle Didn’t just sit there Actor Will and others Bear Satellites Battlefield cry Israeli desert region Striking effect AM/PM dividers Copy Sailing vessel Feverish ailment Lunacy Co-op in the old USSR In a bad mood

95 101 104

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© Puzzle Features Syndicate

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T A R A

O V A L N O O N S

E C L A T

O L I O S

T S A R S N E B R

A L O E

T A T A C L O N E W I D T H G L U T

B A I T S M O O N S S E Q U E N C E S

S T I C O D U E T O N N E L T T A I E E D H A O L C H U C H U M A I M R E S R F U L Y S O C H O J E E P E E R L S A L R I Y P R M E

O X B O W

R E S F L Y T A A S M A E R C H M A E R D Y I C O F D E B T

A N T O N Y

L I E T O

A C T E D

H A L V E I O W A N

O L D A N D

A P E R E S I E S E L W S J O Y A K Y A M S A R I N D E G K S E S N E A E R E G G S S U E T E B U E N S A L B R A S L A C O U R E B E E S

Celebrating Easter

N A I V E I G L O O C O R K S

C O N S T A B L E E T H A N R U P E E

D O E R M A N I A G A S U P A R E A

O W E R A R T E L E V A N S T I N T

S S R S C R O S S L E N T E S A S H


b Gallery of Plant City

Planes, Trains & Automobiles Planes, Trains and Automobiles celebrated its 10th Anniversary on February 22 at the Plant City Airport. The event is presented by the Greater Plant City Chamber of Commerce and founded by Jason Jones, owner of Advantage Restoration and 2018 Chairman of the Chamber’s Board. Families and friends gathered to check out all things transportation, including plane rides, model trains and classic cars.

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a. A large model train was set up in the hangar, giving children an opportunity to study locomotives and use their imagination in the miniature town configured around the train. b. Rock climbing, live entertainment, bungee jumping, and corn hole games were set up for families and friends to gather when they were not checking out transportation. c. Jason Jones, founder of the Planes Trains and Automobiles event, addressed attendees and participants before presenting plaques to the winners of the People’s Choice Award. Planes, Trains and Automobiles celebrated its 10 Anniversary at the 2020 event. d. Attendees could sign up to take flight with a certified pilot and get a bird’s eye view of the area. e. Automobiles on display included classic cars, including this 1965 Chevy Chevelle. Car enthusiasts got an upclose look and owners could chat with the public about their prized possession.

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Plant City Office Coming Soon!

Propelling Forward Together. 409 N Alexander St., Plant City, FL 33563 • www.bankofcentralflorida.com

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If you need a heart procedure, making an appointment with BayCare is standard procedure. From the diagnosis and treatment of heart disease and heart rhythm disorders to emergency heart attack care, South Florida Baptist Hospital is your BayCare hospital in Plant City. We use advanced technologies like stateof-the-art imaging and noninvasive diagnostic tests. And we always provide the high level of personal care that BayCare is known for. If your primary care doctor suggests you see a cardiologist, we can refer you: (844) 344-1952 or KnowYourHeart.org

In Tampa Bay, BayCare hospitals are selected most often for people needing cardiac care.

Based on an aggregated number of adults who needed to be admitted to hospitals due to cardiovascular problems, as reported by the state of Florida, who lived in the four-county area of Hillsborough, Pasco, Pinellas and Polk from April 1, 2018, through March 31, 2019.

20-1050344-0220

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Profile for Floyd Publications

FOCUS Plant City 19-03  

FOCUS Magazine Plant City Edition Issue 19-03 March 2020

FOCUS Plant City 19-03  

FOCUS Magazine Plant City Edition Issue 19-03 March 2020

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