FOCUS Plant City 21-02

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Save $2.00 on Adult & $1.00 on Youth General Admission Tickets at Publix

Artists Appearing on the


Jimmy Sturr & His Orchestra

The Oak Ridge Boys Thu. Mar. 3, 3:30 $25

Thu. Mar. 3, 10:30 FREE

Lady A

Boyz II Men

The Beach Boys

Thu. Mar. 3, 7:30 $50

Fri. Mar. 4, 7:30 $35

Fri. Mar. 4, 3:30 $35

#1 FOR FUN! Home Free

Lauren Daigle

Sat. Mar. 5, 3:30 $25

Sammy Hagar & The Circle Sun. Mar. 6, 7:30 $40

Sat. Mar. 5, 7:30 $40

John Anderson Mon. Mar. 7, 3:30 $25

Kenzie Wheeler Mon. Mar. 7, 7:30 $20

Chicks With Hits

Featuring Terri Clark, Pam Tillis and Suzy Bogguss Sun. Mar. 6, 3:30 $25

Ricky Nelson Remembered

Starring Matthew & Gunnar Nelson Tue. Mar. 8, 3:30 $20

Zach Williams Tue. Mar. 8, 7:30 $25

Mar. 3 - 13, 2022 Plant City, FL

Lee Greenwood Wed. Mar. 9, 3:30 $25

Jake Owen

Wed. Mar. 9, 7:30 $40

Visit or call 813-754-1996 and get your tickets for the best seats available! The Lettermen

Thu. Mar. 10, 10:30 FREE

The Drifters, Cornell Gunter’s Coasters & The Platters Thu. Mar. 10, 3:30


While online, check out the Free Entertainment, Special Days & Discounts and full Schedule of Festival Events.


Thu. Mar. 10, 7:30 $35

Home of OUR


Gene Watson

Fri. Mar. 11, 3:30 $20

Cole Swindell

Fri. Mar. 11, 7:30 $45

Bobby Bones & The Raging Idiots

Sat. Mar. 12, 3:30



Sat. Mar. 12, 7:30 $30

The Bellamy Brothers Sun. Mar. 13, 3:30 $20

Sam Hunt

Sun. Mar. 13, 7:30 $55

Concert dates and times are subject to change

• T-Mobile • ZYN • Alessi Bakeries • AMSCOT • Astin Farms • Candyland Warehouse • Global Frequency Technology • Circle K • Local Ford Dealers • O’Reilly Auto Parts • Grove Equipment Service • Stingray Chevrolet • Uncommon USA • Netterfield’s Concessions • Badcock Home Furniture &More • Good Health Saunas • Samsung • Dakin Dairy Farms • Krazy Kup • Verizon Wireless• Russell’s Western Wear • DIRECTV • Images Everywhere! • Master Spas • Florida Blue • Wyndham Destinations • TRUFFOIRE • DR BROWN’S CBD • Entenmann’s • Portillo’s Hot Dogs • The Bank of Tampa PAGE


Contents Table of



By Cierra Craft Twenty-four contestants took to the stage in the 2022 Florida Strawberry Festival Queens Scholarship Pageant. Ultimately, local high schooler Kenley Connell was chosen as the top finalist. Learn more about the pageant and the journey to the crown.


FEATURE: 2022 JUNIOR ROYALTY CROWNED By Cierra Craft On January 22, four Plant City girls’ earned the titles of Queen, Princess, Duchess, and Baroness of the 2022 Junior Royalty. Learn more about the pageant, its contestants and get a look at the winners.



By Cierra Craft | Photography by Deanna Hurley Photography 2022 Queen Kenley Connell, First Maid Madison Davis, and court members Bailey Blanton, Chloe Hopper, and Tamia Williams sat down with FOCUS for an exclusive interview and photoshoot. Meet the girls who will represent our city, our state, and our strawberry crop for the next year.

FEATURE: FLORIDA STRAWBERRY FESTIVAL FOCUS Magazine is proud to present our annual Florida Strawberry Festival Issue. Inside, you’ll find the full Festival event calendar, 2022 event schedule, youth in agriculture, a guide to the great eats, and learn a little bit about our most beloved dessert— strawberry shortcake.



FOCUS PLANT CITY / Issue 21-02 / February 2022






Mike Floyd


Cierra Craft


By Cierra Craft

By Cierra Craft

Uncle G’s Bed and Biscuit is a home away from home for your furry or feline friend. Learn more about the boarding and grooming services offered at this family-owned and operated business.

This time of year, our city’s businesses get in on the festival spirit and whip up their best strawberry dishes, drinks, and desserts. This is your guide to all the berry best eats in town.


Anthony Sassano

Candy Owens


Jayme Harris


Tony DeVane


Cheryl Johnston Emily Topper Jennifer Jordan


Candy Owens 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 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.

FOCUS Archives: Florida Strawberry Festival 2021 PAGE



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From The





The first families to pioneer this area put a lot of faith into the soil to grow strawberries. What if our city was famous for another crop or what if Henry B. Plant didn’t bring his railroad through town, instead choosing another route? It’s hard to imagine what would have come of our city without the steadfast commitment of those farmers, farm workers, and railroad employees. In its 87th year, the Florida Strawberry Festival celebrates the annual berry harvest once again, with food, music, and agriculture exhibits. As fun as those midway rides can be, I think what makes our Strawberry Festival special is the family-friendly atmosphere. It’s good clean fun for all ages and as festival president Mr. Paul Davis often describes, the Florida Strawberry Festival is a little slice of Americana. Curls of smoke billows from the sausage vendors, cotton candy machines whirl as these cloud-like treats are served up, onlookers cheer on racing pigs, and guitarists strum melodies on the concert stages. A day at the festival keeps your belly full and an adrenaline rush, whether on a ride, stepping into the show ring, or seeing your favorite artist perform on stage. Inside this special issue, we’ve got all of the details on the headline entertainment from Mr. Joe Newsome, festival director and chairman of the Entertainment Committee. Also, take a look back at the city’s most beloved dessert: Strawberry Shortcake. How did it come to be synonymous with Plant City? It all began in the 1930s. We couldn’t commemorate the annual berry harvest without acknowledging our royalty. 2022 Strawberry Queen Kenley Connell and her court had an exclusive interview with Editor Cierra Craft and photoshoot with Deanna Hurley Photography for our cover. Connell is the daughter of a strawberry farmer; learn more about her and the four other girls who make up the court. Thank you to Deanna Hurley for opening your studio and lending your talent to these beautiful photos. Warmest Regards,

Mike Floyd


Kenley Gail Connell 2022 Florida Strawberry Festival Queen

From Bingham Septic



Cork Community Food Distribution


Wednesday 11 - 1p Cork Methodist Church (813) 704-4873 4815 W. Sam Allen Rd. Plant City, FL 33565 Sundays 10:30a Worship Service







Plant City Entertainment to present All My Sons By Cierra Craft


lant City Entertainment in conjunction with Dramist Play Service, Inc. is proud to present Arthur Miller’s All My Sons. The show will be directed by Tyler McElrath and co-directed by Coy Permenter. The highly acclaimed drama, which is based on a true story, tells of Joe Keller, a successful businessman, who lives comfortably with his wife, Kate, and son, Chris, in a suburban American neighborhood. They have only one sadness in their lives – the loss of their other son, Larry, who went missing in World War II. After three years, Kate still clings to the hope that her son is alive. However, Joe has done a terrible and tragic thing. A lie unravels to reveal the truth of what happened in Joe’s factory in the autumn of 1943. All My Sons won the New York Drama Critics’ Award, both the Tony Award for Best Author and the Tony Award for Best Direction of a Play. The play was adapted for films in 1948 and 1987 and is as relevant in today’s world as it was when it was first written. Audiences can sympathize with the themes of capitalism, guilt and justice, and the portrayals of grief, family, and community. Plant City Entertainment, located at 101 N. Thomas Street in downtown Plant City, will present All My Sons for six dates in late February. At this time, PCE does require all attendees to wear a mask inside, regardless of vaccination status.

Ticket Info: • • • •

February 18th, 19th, 25th, 26th – 8:00 P.M. (DOORS OPEN at 6:30 P.M.) February 20th, 27th – Matinee – 2 P.M. (DOORS OPEN at 12:30 P.M.) Advance tickets may be purchased at Shear Expressions Hair Salon (813) 752-94247, Monday – Friday 9:00 A.M. – 3:00 P.M., 1514 S. Alexander St. Plant City 33563 or online while available. Cash, Check or credit cards are accepted at the door.

Opening Night Special:

2 tickets for $30.00 online, Shear Expressions pick-up or at the door. Adults (18-59): $20.00; Seniors (60+) and Students (under 18): $18.00; PCE Members: $15.00, Groups of 10+: $15.00 (only available at Shear Expressions Hair Salon) To purchase tickets online & for more information, visit: PAGE




HERE IS YOUR CLUE: LOOK AT THE GORGEOUS, THICK, LUSH LION’S MANE ON THIS PLANT CITY PERSONALITY!!! This “YOUNG STUD” shoveled snow, delivered News Papers and ate his favorite SPAGHETTIOS as a child. He went on to become a Shoe Salesman as well as a Gas Station Attendant. His dream was to become a Policeman. WELL...HE SORTA KINDA IS A COP!!! He has devoted his life to teaching his clients how to change their daily “NOT SO GREAT” lifestyles and habits. To look at this PLANT CITY PERSONALITY you will see ONE TUFF RUSSIAN!!!! But the truth of the matter is, he has THE SOFTEST OF HEARTS. ESPECIALLY to small animals. HE’S A BEAST YES...BUT WITH A GREAT BIG HEART!!!

IF YOU KNOW WHO THIS IS CALL CANDY O AT FOCUS MAGAZINE! 813-707-8783 The first 3 people to guess the correct person will win a PRIZE!!!! (The TRUE identity will be given in next month’s FOCUS Magazine) LAST MONTH’S PERSONALITY: PASTOR DR. DANIEL MIDDLEBROOKS

Kenzie Wheeler

Prepares for Upcoming Strawberry Festival Performance By Jennifer Jordan


n March 7 at 7:30PM, local star and season 20 of The Voice Finalist Kenzie Wheeler will step foot onto the Wish Farms Sound Stage and perform at the Strawberry Festival for the first time. Being a headliner at the festival, Wheeler is starting to prepare for the show, stating, “We have started practicing several times a week with the sound team, lighting team, and the band to come up with the best show possible.” Wheeler is excited to put on a good show, and he’s planning to sing 20-25 songs for the audience, with a mix of older original songs and new originals no one has heard yet. A true talent with a distinctive baritone voice, he has opened for Charlie Daniels, Michael Ray, and Craig Campbell. Wheeler has also headlined several concerts including at House of Blues and Dallas Bull. In the next few months, Wheeler intends to release a few new singles, which can be found on Apple Music and Spotify. When thinking about what he hopes for the audience to gain at his performance, Wheeler said, “I hope people see how much I love country music, how much I love this town, and how much I love my fans. Some people might not know this, but I released an album back in 2018 titled Dover after my hometown. When the show is over, I hope they leave wanting more.” The night of the show, Wheeler will also have merchandise available. Dreaming about performing on the stage in front of countless fans since he was little, Wheeler noted, “It means so much to me to get to perform on the Wish Farms Sound Stage where so many amazing artists have performed before. I just want to thank Mr. Paul Davis and the Strawberry Festival for believing in me and giving me this opportunity to be one of the headlining entertainers at the festival this year.” Wheeler also said that without the support from his hometown and his fan base across the country, he wouldn’t be able to be on that stage performing. If you would like to see Kenzie Wheeler perform at the Strawberry Festival, tickets are on sale for $20 and can be purchased at For more information on upcoming shows that Kenzie Wheeler will be having, check out his website at







Mrs. Rosa Jones

Remembers West Plant City By Cierra Craft


few months ago, Mrs. Rosa Jones visited the FOCUS office to pick up some copies from our archives. She said, “No one talks about the West side of town where I grew up.” That statement sparked an idea to share some of her memories this year for Black History Month, which is from February 1 to March 1. Mrs. Jones says her mother moved to Plant City when she was one month old, in 1915. Her parents were migrant workers, traveling with the crops for work. Mrs. Jones remembers her grandfather, who picked strawberries, citrus, and traveled out of town for celery. She said her mom cleaned houses. “Back then, people did domestic work or farm work,” said Jones. Mrs. Jones attended Simmons Elementary and then Marshall. She said she had wonderful teachers at both schools, recalling having to learn about the government and the Preamble. When attending Marshall, they rode the bus the first year for 7th grade, but after that, they had to walk. “Rain, sleet, or snow, we walked to school,” said Mrs. Jones. “Well, there wasn’t snow here, but in the cold and the rain, we walked to school and back. If my dad could take us, he would.” She said on her way home, she and the other students would stop by William George’s house on Renfro Street and get sugar cookies, oatmeal cookies, and other baked goods from his wife, Carrie. She recalls Mr. Bill, who the neighborhood called “Crab Man,” who would sell crabs throughout the community and the cafe on the corner of Waller and Madison streets owned by Oliver Vickers and the restaurants, beauty shops, and barbershops that were once on Waller Street. She says where Washington Funeral Home stands, between Tyler and Waller streets, there was a grocery store. Mrs. Jones says she has seen a lot of changes growing up in Plant City. She remembers when the restaurants were segregated, but also recalls some of the first Black police officers including Edwin Candis, Henry Perry, Willie Wright, and Solomon Gant. Mrs. Jones remembers when Phyllis Johnson Benton became the first African American woman to work in City Hall in 1965. Mrs. Benton went to FAMU where she graduated with a degree in accounting. She worked for Southern Bell Telephone and then opened several businesses including a franchise owner of McDonald’s, Checker’s, Pizza Hut, and more throughout her life. In 1985, Benton was the recipient of the Plant City Business and Professional Women’s “Woman of Achievement” award. Dr. Bernard Robinson, who Mrs. Jones said grew up on Ball Street, was the first Black neurosurgeon to complete training at Walter Reed Medical Center and was often the first African American doctor in the hospitals in which he worked. He also authored a book titled “Two Ropes,” about Dr. Robinson’s experiences growing up in Plant City. She said this year, her church, Bethel Missionary Baptist Church, will celebrate its 136th anniversary. She said many members of Mt. Moriah, St. Luke, and Mt. Olive churches were originally members of Bethel Missionary Baptist Church. While Mrs. Jones reflected on life in Plant City, she shared these memories with a fondness for the town she calls home. “I’m so thankful things were made better,” said Mrs. Jones, sharing that her nephews, nieces, and future generations grew up with a different experience.



‘All That Glitters is Gold’ Event to Raise Money for Childhood Cancer By Jennifer Jordan


rom diagnosis to treatment procedures, cancer brings about a whirlwind of change that no parent is ever ready for. With limited resources dedicated to awareness, support, and advocacy for local families, Jensen’s Heart of Gold Foundation was founded in 2010 to bring hope for parents and children right here in our community. Created to help families through their community outreach and family assistance programs in the greater Baldwin and Mobile County area in Alabama, as well as a dozen counties in Central Florida, the 501(c)(3) non-profit organization continues to honor their own fallen hero, 5-year-old Jensen Daniel Byrd. Jensen lost his battle against neuroblastoma but won the hearts of thousands. Carrying on Jensen’s spirit of giving, the Foundation’s goal is to provide financial relief for expenses that medical insurance just doesn’t cover. Jensen’s Heart of Gold Foundation believes that no parent should have to face homelessness or sacrifice necessities while struggling to meet the demands that cancer brings. To help raise money for the Jensen’s Heart of Gold Foundation and help local families during a difficult time, “All That Glitters is Gold” will be held on February 26 from 6:00 p.m. to 11:00 p.m. in Plant City, and residents are encouraged to attend this meaningful event. It will be held at Plant City Wine Cellar, formerly known as Roots Cellars, located at 303 S. Collins Street, at 6:00 p.m., and The Tipsy Bookworm, located at 115 S. Evers Street, at 8:00 p.m.. The event will be an evening of light dinner, drinks, dancing, and musical entertainment. Cocktail attire is suggested. Tickets are $125 and can be purchased on Jensen’s Heart of Gold website. All proceeds from this event provide much-needed financial relief to kids with cancer in Central Florida through Jensen’s Heart of Gold Florida Chapter’s Hardship Assistance Program. If you have any questions about Jensen’s Heart of Gold Foundation, call the Florida Chapter at 813-967-0481. If you would like to buy tickets for All That Glitters is Gold, visit their website at www.jensensheartofgold. com/florida-chapter






Walden Lake Review BY NATALIE SWEET


alden Lake Community Association Board Meetings are held the third Monday of each month at 6:30 at the Walden Lake Community Association office building on Griffin Boulevard in Walden Lake. The next meetings will be held on February 21st and March 21st. Please keep an eye on the announcement boards at all entrances for dates and times of special meetings and events. Meetings are now being held in person although you can still log in to and view the meeting virtually on zoom. Each of the nine HOA Board of Directors is elected and serves a three-year term. Each year three positions are open for election or re-election. Anyone interested in running for the Board should complete a Notice of Intent and send it into the HOA office within a specified time. The food trucks at the HOA Building/Sports Complex are on the second Fridays and last Sundays of each month. If you have not taken advantage of the delicious offerings, give it a try! Watch for more information from emails coming from the HOA, the entrance boards, and on Nextdoor. During the month of January, there were nine sales in Walden Lake and one sale in Walden Lake East. The average sale price was $361,107 an average of 1,969 square feet and on the market for an average of 10 days. The January Sales are as follows:

‘Kids Helping Kids’: Lincoln Students Raise Money for Plant City YMCA By Cierra Craft


n Friday, February 4, students from Lincoln Elementary School presented a check of $542 to the Plant City Family YMCA. The first graders are studying a unit titled How The World Works, which tasks the young minds to create a good or service, sell that good and provide that service, and understand how money impacts business decisions. In December, the first-grade class sold Candy Grams to the school, the candy came with a little message from one student to another. The class had to advertise their project, produce the project, and provide the service of delivering the gram. When completed, they raised $542.00. Part of the lesson taught the students that in the real world, there are many who do not have a lot of money to spend on extracurricular activities or fun. The students learned about different charity organizations in the community and chose to donate their $542 to the Plant City YMCA. “We learned your organization helps kids that do not have enough money to pay for activities and sports,” said a letter written by the first graders to the YMCA. “On behalf of the first grade class of Lincoln Elementary, we want to present this check for $542 to the Plant City YMCA.” Paul Conley, executive director of the Plant City Family YMCA, said he was honored the YMCA was chosen as the recipient. “I believe the definition of charity is giving all that you have and these kids clearly did just that,” said Conley. “I think the teachers deserve a tremendous amount of credit for this idea and I am truly honored and humbled that the kids made the choice to help other kids learn the valuable lessons that youth sports teaches.”



The January sales are as follows: Address / Sales Price / Living Area / Pool / Garage 1601 Paddock Drive / $240,000 / 1669 / 2 Car / Private 1421 Walden Oaks Place / $274,000 / 1762 / 2 Car / No 4128 Longfellow Drive / $274,000 / 1234 / 2 Car / No 1315 Juniper Circle / $313,480 / 1684 / 2 Car / No 3476 Silver Meadow Way / $350,000 / 1871 / 2 Car / Private 1903 Paddock Drive / $385,000 / 1676 / 2 Car / Private 3225 Pine Club Drive / $385,000 / 2347 / 2 Car / No 3302 Milton Place / $389,581 / 1864 / 2 Car / Private 3308 Cummings Place / $480,000 / 2507 / 2 Car / Private 2503 Clubhouse Drive / $520,000 / 3075 / 3 Car / No There are currently nine active listings for sale in Walden Lake with a villa at the lowest price at $249,000 and the highest at $1.95 Million. Without the highest listing, the average price of the homes on the market is $424,537 with an average of 21 days on the market. There are 21 properties Pending Contract in Walden Lake and Walden Lake East with an average list price of $397,221 and 10 days on the market. How is COVID-19 affecting real estate? As you can see from the sales data above, we do not see a slowdown of our listings going under contract, providing they are priced correctly and in good condition. We are seeing fewer homes being listed, so The Sweet Team of Keller Williams Realty feels this is a great time to list, as there are many buyers looking for a home. Feel free to contact me with any questions about this article or about your real estate needs. or 813-758-9586.


Chloe Kendra Hopper 2022 Florida Strawberry Festival Queens Court Member

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Crushin’ on Cookies: Plant City’s Next Crush By Jennifer Jordan

C Tomlin FFA Sells Fresh Produce from Student-led Project By Jennifer Jordan


f you’re looking for local, freshly picked produce that supports students in our community, then you need to check out the Tomlin FFA Produce Stand. Located at the corner of U.S. Highway 92 and Edwards Street on Tomlin Middle School’s property, the produce stand sells fruits, vegetables, and flowers that are grown by students that participate in agriculture at the school. Items are seasonal and change according to the time of year and what the students are most interested in growing. Currently, the Tomlin FFA Produce Stand is selling strawberries, kale, lettuce, tomatoes, and collards. Most items are sold in bunches or by the pound for $1-$2 per bunch or pound, with lettuce being sold for $1 per head and strawberries being sold for $5 per case. Robert Wilder, an agriculture teacher at Tomlin, noted that all the money that the produce stand makes goes back directly into the ag department, allowing for the purchase of seeds, animal feed, or anything the students might need. Wilder also stated, “The produce stand not only teaches the students how to grow food, but how to run a business. They’re learning customer service and how to market the produce stand, and they learn to work together.” The Tomlin FFA Produce Stand is currently open on Fridays from 10AM-4PM, and they can be reached through their Facebook page, Tomlin FFA Produce Stand, for any questions. During the Strawberry Festival, the students will set up a mobile stand on the corner of Edwards Street and Risk Street and sell strawberries and other produce to raise money for the ag department, in addition to opening their field for parking during the festival. If you need lettuce for a salad or strawberries for some shortcake, then check out the Tomlin FFA Produce Stand on Fridays and support our local ag students.



rushin’ on Cookies is a new sweet treat spot that recently opened in Plant City and is prepared to satisfy your sweet tooth with unique and delicious recipes. Located at 2806 James L Redman Pkwy, Crushin’ on Cookies serves a variety of cookies, dessert bars, and personalized cookie cakes for any occasion or non-occasion. Owned and operated by Kelsie Creamer and her mom, Cindy Creamer, the duo started Crushin’ on Cookies because of their shared love for baking and to spend more time together. Kelsie and her mom began from home two years ago, but the business slowly grew and now she and her mom have their own storefront. Each dessert they create is mixed, stuffed, and topped with all your favorite sweets such as Reese’s, M&M’s, marshmallows, Oreo’s, and more. Seeing the desserts, it’s apparent they’re unlike any ordinary cookie you’ve ever had before. You can either come in during hours and pick out desserts that are available that day, but otherwise, an order needs to be placed online, especially for large or custom orders. Orders typically take four or five days to complete. The desserts are made in a kitchen that contains nuts, so please contact Crushin’ on Cookies before ordering if you have a nut allergy. You can order online at www.crushinoncookies. com. They are open Thursday-Saturday from 12:00 p.m. to 5:00 p.m. and can be reached at 813-730-1718 or Visit Crushin’ on Cookies and discover your newest crush in town!

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45 TO 65

Woman’s Club of Plant City is Here for You

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, offering quality healthcare.

By Cierra Craft


n the third Tuesday of March, the GFWC Woman’s Club of Plant City will host an 5:30 p.m. meeting for women interested in membership. The group typically hosts their meetings in the morning, but President Patricia Wolff says Plant City women between the ages of 45 and 65, who are still employed miss out on Woman’s Club opportunities. Wolff is hopeful evening meetings will open an opportunity for women to get involved in the community at a time that is convenient for them. “The evening meetings will be brief, maybe 45 minutes at most, with appetizers and refreshments,” said Wolff. “After 45, women can’t be a member of the Junior Women’s Club, and if they’re not available during the day, they miss out on being a member of our group. So I hope this gives ladies a chance to learn more about our club and get involved at a time that is convenient for them.” Wolff says the group will continue to host the evening meetings on the third Tuesday of the month for those interested. The meeting will take place at the GFWC Woman’s Club Clubhouse at 1110 North Wheeler Street in Plant City’s historic district.






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Court member Tamia Williams rocked leather pants and a white one shoulder, long sleeve asymmetrical top for the Casual Wear competition.

Court member Bailey Blanton chose a lace long sleeve red gown for the formal wear portion of the competition.

First Maid Madison Davis delivered an elevator pitch for her sponsor, Marzucco Real Estate. The public speaking portion accounted for 25% of the overall score.

For the business wear portion, Chloe Hopper opted for a Kelly green dress with a neck tie and flared hem. Each outfit represented the girls’ unique personality, to which overall appearance was judged.

2022 Queen Kenley Connell was crowned by 2021 Queen McKenna Jordan.

The top contestants grab hands in support of one another as emcees Samantha Sun and Sean Daly call the top five.



The Plant City Lions Club, official presenters of the annual Florida Strawberry Festival Queens Scholarship Pageant, has crowned its newest royalty. On January 22, at the Grimes Agricultural Center, Plant City-native Kenley Connell was named 2022 Florida Strawberry Festival Queen. Connell is the daughter of Joel and Erika Connell. She is currently a junior at Plant City High School, where she is a member of FFA, Interact Club, and National Honors Society. She is also a member of the Tennis and Track teams. She plans to attend a Florida university to attain a doctorate in psychology with a minor in criminology.

Lions Club Crowns

Queen 2022 Florida Strawberry Festival By Cierra Craft

“It’s amazing! I’m on cloud nine,” said Connell. “I’m most looking forward to spending 11-days with the beautiful ladies standing next to me.” Madison Davis was chosen as First Maid along with court members Chloe Hopper, Bailey Blanton and Tamia Williams. Davis was also named Miss Congeniality in the pageant, her second consecutive year earning the title. According to Festival Public Relations & Media Representative Jennifer Morgan, Davis is the first girl in pageant history to receive the title twice.

“I was humbled and shocked,” said Davis in an episode of the festival’s web show Behind the Berry. “I always try my best to be kind to people because you never know what someone’s going through. So, just sharing a kind word, sharing a smile, and simply living by the Golden Rule: treating others the way you want to be treated…” This year, twenty-four contestants entered the pageant. The Florida Strawberry Festival Queen’s Competition is organized by the Plant City Lions Club and is composed of five facets of competition: a personal interview, on-stage speaking, casual wear, evening wear, and the top 10 contestants are asked an on-stage impromptu question. This year, the competitors were asked: The Strawberry Queen should have a servant’s heart. How have you served others? Many spoke about their volunteer work and how they want festival visitors to experience kindness and receive a warm welcome to the 2022 festival. This year’s pageant emcees were 2015 Florida Strawberry Festival Queen Samantha Sun and ABC Action News anchor Sean Daly. Throughout the year, the queen and court make more than 80 appearances as they represent the Florida Strawberry Festival and the Plant City community, including parades and events supporting local causes such as the United Food Bank, Plant City Rotary Club, and Relay for Life. “Yet another year of five wonderful young ladies selected,” said Florida Strawberry Festival President Paul Davis. “I have no doubt they will represent us well this year.”






Tamia Adriana Williams 2022 Florida Strawberry Festival Queens Court Member





Young Royals

Ready at the

2022 Florida Strawberry Festival Junior Royalty Crowned By Cierra Craft Photography Courtesy of Deanna Hurley Photography The shine of sequins and rhinestones lit up the stage on January 16, 2022, as 112 registered contestants vied for the title of Junior Royalty Queen, Princess, Duchess and Baroness. In the end, only four girls from each age division would be crowned. The night began with emcees and father-daughter-duo Kenneth Parker and Calli Jo Parker Baker introducing each contestant to the stage. In the preliminary competition, the pair invited each contestant to the stage and read her biography aloud, sharing with the crowd each competitor’s extracurriculars, hobbies, and more. The competitors were judged on personality, stage presence, and overall beauty. Outfitted in formal wear, each contestant took her walk on the runway, with some of the pageant’s youngest contestants blowing kisses to the crowd to show off their personality. Queen contender Madelynn Marie Hardwick opted for a pink one shoulder gown covered in iridescent pink sequins, one of the most memorable and unique gowns of the night. Once the top 10 contestants were named, the final round of the competition began by answering an on stage question. This year, the girls’ were asked why is the Florida Strawberry Festival the number one place for fun. Many mentioned the delicious food, rides on the midway, and the concerts, including 2022 headline entertainer Sam Smith. However, overwhelmingly, each mentioned the memories made with their family and friends was number one.



Junior Young Royals

Ready at the

The judges selected Kennedie Clinton as Queen, Ivy Belle Garner as Princess, Rowen Ashford Morgan as Duchess, and Kenzley Salinas as Baroness. Morgan is a two-time Junior Royalty title holder, serving as Baroness in 2019. Ivy Belle Garner was a first runner up in the Duchess division in 2018. She isn’t the first Garner girl to win a Junior Royalty title: Her older sister Gracie was named Junior Royalty Queen in the 2020 pageant. Ironically, both sisters wore white gowns the year they were selected for a title. In 2021, Clinton was a Queen division first runner up which sparked a passion for pageantry. She competed in Miss Florida Teen USA in July 2021 and was a winner of Durant High School’s Miss March 2022. Now, Clinton holds the title of Florida Strawberry Festival Junior Royalty Queen. Pageant Chair Katie Varnum says months of preparation went into the pageant. The pageant committee consists of two cochairs, Katie Butson and Dee Parker, and Jessi Rae Varnum assisted with the judges’ panel. The pageant was sponsored by Sanway Farms, Fringe Boutique, Chili’s, and RAOK. “Our Junior Royalty Pageant was a success,” said Florida Strawberry Festival President Paul Davis in a press release. “I know the four young ladies selected here tonight will represent us well this year.” The Junior Royalty winners will represent the Florida Strawberry Festival throughout the year, making appearances at events and in the annual Plant City Christmas Parade and Grand Parade during the festival. “It’s important to us that the youth of our community are involved in the festival,” continued Davis. “Junior Royalty is a wonderful way for young ladies to do just that.”




Young Royals

Ready at the

Top 10 Baroness (5 & 6 years old)

Berkley Olivia Neary Gabriella Nicole Perez- Top 5 Hailey Raelynn Clark- Top 5 Ansley Gail Judah- Top 5 Sailor Showalter- Top 5 Payton Bell Remi Tilson Charleigh Rae Harris Kezley Salias- Winner Lilly Colding

Top 10 Duchess (7 to 9 years old)

Ainslee Creel- Top 5 Victoria Pugh Rustyn Reece Sparkman Caroline Brooke Newman Dylan Jane Hunt- Top 5 Tiftyn RaeLynn Gill Rowen Ashford Morgan- Winner Addisyn Danielle Wise- Top 5 Kinsley Smythe Caitlin Abigail Coleman- Top 5

Top 10 Princess (10 to 12 years old)

Elisse Marcoux Avery Rose Richey- Top 5 Kyndell Morgan Drawdy Trista Maye Azeltine Alleigh Lynn Goff- Top 5 Ivy Belle Garner- Winner Autumn Paige Brazil- Top 5 Brylee Nicole Martinez- Top 5 Demi Cheyenne Atkinson Karlee Stackhouse

Top 10 Queen

(13 to 15 years old) Hayven LeeAnn Harrell Kennedie Clinton- Winner Marley Mueller- Top 5 Skyler RaeAnn Barber Chesney Stackhouse Madelynn Marie Hardwick- Top 5 Leah Nicole Gainer- Top 5 Alivia Loryn Eben Kaleigh Ann Salmon Kendall Belle Wright- Top 5













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

CARLASHA ERMONFILS Excellent job for shooting the New Epcot commercial and print ad as the clients just loved your whole family! You are all amazing and we have you up for more exciting auditions!



Great leadership for having your wonderful family out for this big commercial and print ad for Epcot. So excited for you all as we have more opportunities coming your way!


We are so proud of you Zayah for doing an incredible job on a new Epcot commercial and print ad.


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

ADDRESS: 809 EAST PALMETTO STREET • LAKELAND, FL 33801 863-688-9939 OUR NEW Established For 42 Years

JULIO PADILLA Disney and Epcot TV Commercials. Heartland Living Magazine Fashion Print Ad.


MARVETTE ROBERTS Disney World TV Commercial and Print Ad for Disney Cruise Line.

DAN LA PLACA Principal Roles on The One and Only Ivan Movie and The Right Stuff Series. Universal Studios TV Commercial.

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People of Plant City

Haley Wilson By Cheryl Johnston


aley Wilson dreams of her future career as a clinical psychologist serving for and with our military. And at age 16, this Plant City native who attends Durant High School is doing everything in her power to see the dream become a reality. Her hard work also includes a job with Chick-fil-A in Plant City, for which she transferred from the Brandon location. What made you select this career path? My grandmother was a nurse for the Veterans Administration, and she would describe how veterans struggled with PTSD (Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder). I’ve also watched friends grow up in difficult situations and I hope to help people one day. I’m very motivated and know what I want, so right now school is my main priority. I’ve already taken Psychology 1 and 2 and this year it’s AP Psychology. I’m fascinated by disorders and their causes. A favorite assignment recently was to prepare summaries and analysis reports on four people – an adolescent, a young adult, a middle-aged person and a mature adult. What do you see students struggling with today? When my parents and grandparents were growing up, mental health wasn’t the big issue that it is for children and teens today. With the impact of COVID, many are taking medications for anxiety. Circumstances like divorce and the need to be perfect create fear and depression. I see mental health now from a different perspective. It’s important for us to have friends and we can encourage each other. Loneliness, isolation and lack of connection are big factors now. What’s another goal you have for your life? I hope to purchase a home and be financially stable on my own. I want to be self-sufficient. We met as volunteers at the Christmas is Near event recently, so it seems your faith is an important aspect of your life. Can you explain? Sure, I attend Relevant Church now and love sharing with others. I especially like to pray for people when they ask for help. At my previous church I was on the worship team and did a teaching for the youth about God’s forgiveness and grace over our mistakes. Do you have preferences for music and reading? Yes, I listen to different music, based on my mood or location. In Plant City, it’s country. I like songs for their strong lyrics. For books, I’ve just finished Poet X by Elizabeth Acevedo. It’s the story of a Hispanic teen girl whose mother is Catholic. She writes poetry as an escape and a way to explore her faith. Each page is a different poem. She wrote ‘With the Fire on High’ too. So, what do you do for fun? I’ve traveled on family cruises to Aruba, Belize, Mexico, and Jamaica. During the Fourth of July week, we’re typically in Knoxville, Tennessee with other family and we spend Christmastime at Madeira Beach with my mom’s family. I’m in culinary class now at DHS and it’s fun to cook, but I don’t bake anything except peach cobbler. My family enjoys walking through downtown Plant City and at Christmas, seeing the lights in the McCall Park area. As a 16-year-old, would you offer some wise counsel to our readers today? Don’t stress so much over the little things, because then when big things come, you’ll bounce back easier.





Did You


American Medicine & Plant City’s Black Physicians By Dr. Scotty and Hsiu Huang History Center Plant City Photo Archives, Inc.


n promoting a month-long look at African American achievements, this year’s Black History Month theme of Black Health and Wellness is timely as we continue to combat the challenges sparked by the COVID pandemic. A look at the history of the American health system reveals a lack of adequate care for blacks since the early days of slavery. The decades following the Civil War saw grassroots efforts − spearheaded by the women of the black community − push for health reforms regarding black Americans, who received limited access to doctors and treatment. Despite being affected by a broad scope of issues, including substandard living conditions and poor nutrition, blacks were labeled as “inherently unhealthy” by many in the medical field. However, medical professionals failed to consider that the unacceptable health statistics attributed to African Americans were the result of forced exclusion from medical treatment and education. One solution to this recurrent discrimination was Booker T. Washington’s National Health Improvement Week (later known as National Negro Health Week) in 1915. Held in the first weeks of April, the movement was meant to encourage collaborative efforts by both blacks and whites to promote healthy lifestyles – personal hygiene, health examinations, large-scale cleanups – in the black community. Washington deemed that any future for the black community would not be possible without improved and sustainable healthcare. This notion fell in line with the philosophy of self-empowerment and dignity advocated by activists of the women’s and civil rights movements, entwining appeals for basic human rights. The week had a favorable reception and would continue to have energetic participation until its end in 1951. Similar to the era of Reconstruction, health care became a major component of the civil rights movement. With the establishment of organized medicine in the early 1900s, the American Medical Association (AMA) came to control the standards for the medical profession. Unfortunately, prejudices of the time influenced an approach within medicine that focused on race and class, withholding essential health care from those most in need. The racial disparity within the medical



Neighborhood Service Center Clean Up Campaign in 1967

profession prompted many African Americans to seek careers in healthcare. However, the AMA did little to advocate for integration within hospitals and medical societies. It would not be until after the signing of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 that the AMA worked to amend issues of discrimination within the profession. Regardless of the obstacles, driven and impassioned individuals worked for better health services in the black community. A 1909 graduate of Meharry Medical College, Dr. Oscar Albert Joyner became Plant City’s first black doctor in the 1920s and served the community for nearly 40 years. “Doc” Joyner would go on to inspire Plant City native, Dr. Bernard Robinson, whom Joyner treated for severe burns on his hand when Robinson was a young boy. Dr. Robinson has played a significant role in overcoming racial barriers regarding black health. A previous student at Marshall High School, Robinson’s academic career coincided with early integration efforts, presenting an opportunity for him to attend the University of Southern Florida, where he solidified his decision to pursue a medical degree. After graduating from Howard University, Robinson went on to become the first African American to be trained in neurosurgery at Walter Reed Army Medical Center. We are grateful to these men for their services to the community and their impact on a national level regarding black health. May we continue to see strides made in the effort to correct these racial health disparities. Stop by the Plant City Photo Archives and History Center this month to see an array of photographs spotlighting Plant City’s black community and to learn more about the history of black health and organized medicine. For more information or if you would like to share your photos with the Archives, please email info@ or call the office at 813.754.1578.

Dr. Bernard Robinson in 1974


Braff, Paul Alexander. “Enthroning Health: The National Negro Health Movement and the Fight to Control Public Health Policy in the African American Community, 1915–1950.” Ph.D. diss., Temple University, 2020. Byrd, W. Michael, and Linda A. Clayton. “An American Health Dilemma: A History of Blacks in the Health System.” Journal of the National Medical Association 84 (1992):189-200. Quinn, Sandra Crouse, Stephen B. Thomas. “The National Negro Health Week, 1915 To 1951: A Descriptive Account”. Minority Health Today 2 (2001): 44-49. Robinson, Bernard. Two Ropes. WestBow Press, 2017. Smith, Susan Lynn. ““Sick and tired of being sick and tired”: Black women and the National Negro Health Movement, 1915-1950.” Ph.D. diss., The University of Wisconsin – Madison, 1991.







Want to become a member of the Greater Plant City Chamber of Commerce? Businesses may join the Chamber online by visiting or by calling the office at (813) 754- 3707.

In December, the Greater Plant City Chamber of Commerce had the pleasure of celebrating Bubbakoo’s Burritos 1 year anniversary with a Ribbon Cutting Ceremony! Bubbakoo’s Burritos serves up food that’s fun, fast and fresh. Their Modified Mexican Menu keeps your choices fresh every time! The restaurant is located at 1701 S Alexander Street, Suite 108 Thank you to everyone who joined us for this milestone moment!

The Greater Plant City Chamber of Commerce hosted not one, but two Ribbon Cutting Ceremonies for Herring Place located in Historic Downtown Plant City! Friends, family, and community members gathered alongside Chamber Trustee, Nate Kilton, of Sedita Kilton & Company and Chamber Board Member, Shelley Jemison, of Solution Source for the Grand Opening of their brand new office buildings! Both buildings were constructed by Solution Source in May of 2021, with the companies officially moving into the office buildings this past November. Congratulations to both Chamber members on your breathtaking new spaces!






Madison Mae Davis 2022 Florida Strawberry Festival First Maid & Miss Congeniality

God cultivates a heart of beauty in those who are called His own. Madison, out of the abundance of your heart you pour into the lives of others! Your heart truly radiates beauty! Thankful and blessed to be your Family... We love you!





Parade Route: Units form behind Plant City Plaza (Save-A-Lot/Big Lots) on Evers Street, Parade will move North on Evers and then West on Reynolds, past the Festival Grounds and end at the Red Parking Lot.

See you at the Parade and then enjoy the Ace Hardware Grand Parade Day at the 87th Annual Florida Strawberry Festival!!! For additional information contact Gail Lyons, (813) 967-6366 or email PAGE





3012 James L Redman Parkway Plant City, FL 33566

(813) 707-0520

INNER 2020 W


2021 WIN





Spaces are filling up fast. Don’t miss out!



ABOUT OUR CAMPS With only 50 days to experience camp this summer, you don’t want to miss a single week at the Y! From canoeing and zip lining to splashing in the pool EVERY DAY, the Y is your camper’s ULTIMATE summer camp destination! Summer Camp starts May 31st! PLANT CITY FAMILY YMCA 1507 YMCA Place, Plant City FL 33563 P 813.757.6677




2022 Florida Strawberry Festival Queen & Court

Meet the City’s New Royalty By Cierra Craft Photos Courtesy of Deanna Hurley Photography

“And the 2022 Florida Strawberry Festival Queen is…. Contestant 22 Kenley Connell!” It was that moment when the sixth generation Plant Citian’s life changed forever and she permanently became cemented into the history of Florida’s strawberry industry. But Connell says her roots in agriculture were already deeply rooted: As the daughter of a strawberry farmer. She grew up with an appreciation for the hard work of Florida growers and love for livestock. Connell has participated in the festival’s Swine show and sale. Meet Queen Kenley Connell, First Maid Madison Davis, and court members Bailey Blanton, Chloe Hopper, and Tamia Williams, as the five young ladies embark on a year of all things strawberry and memories to last a lifetime. PAGE


Kenley Connell 2022 Strawberry Festival Queen When did you decide you might one day compete in the Florida Strawberry Festival Queen’s Scholarship Pageant? Do you have previous pageant experience? To be honest, this has been my dream since I was a little girl. I grew up on a strawberry farm and have been very invested in the festival so it’s always been on my list of goals. Growing up I was on the Little Miss Plant City’s court, competed in Jr. Royalty one year and was the 2019 Jr. Harvest Queen. Are you from Plant City originally? What do you love most about eastern Hillsborough County? I was born and raised in Plant City and I have loved every moment of it. There is something so special about this town, and to me, it’s the people. This town has deep agricultural roots, and we throw an entire festival to celebrate the harvest of the strawberry. In this town, we support our local farmers, we celebrate them and most importantly we remember to buy local. Were you nervous during the pageant? In a few words, describe your initial reaction to the announcement of the Top 5 and Queen. I was so nervous the prior day, but for some odd reason the day of the pageant, I knew I had worked my hardest leading up to this day and so I just gave it my all. I remember that morning waking up, praying about it, and then starting my day with a sense of confidence I had never felt before. When they called my name for the top 5 I went into a shock, like “is this a dream?” and then when they called my name and number for queen, I completely blanked, I was speechless. How did your family members react to your placement on the Court? Do you have any relatives who served on the Queen or Court? My family is my backbone and I have a HUGE family. My little sister was a sobbing mess, my dad threw his cowboy hat, my



little brothers were screaming and yelling and my mom was smiling so big it actually went from ear to ear. I knew they were proud and that made me so happy. I had all my aunts, uncles, cousins, and friends there, and seeing them jumping up and down, screaming was probably the highlight of my night, knowing they were all there to support me, win, lose, or draw. I have a great-grandma on the Queen’s court in 1953, so 69 years ago. In addition to your responsibilities on the court, what other plans do you have for the upcoming year? I am hoping to get a high enough SAT or ACT score to get a Bright Futures scholarship as well as I hope to continue to do my dual enrollment courses and complete my AA in the summer of 2023. I also am planning to make tons of new memories this summer with my friends and family. What role do you most look forward to in representing the strawberry industry and the community? Being the daughter of a strawberry farmer, this industry is the one that raised me. I can remember as a little girl going to FSGA (Florida Strawberry Growers Association) meetings and learning all about the industry. So being given the opportunity to represent them is truly the opportunity of a lifetime. My prayer is that I represent them in a way where people understand the hard work it takes to produce good strawberries and encourage the people in my community to buy locally. It means so much to the farmers when their own community is supporting them. Who would you like to thank for your success? I have a large family that is so loving and so supportive, however, both of my parents were there by my side every step of the way. They did whatever it took to make sure I had the best chance to obtain a lifelong goal.

What person do you aspire to be like in the future? There is a lot of people that inspire me daily, however, Kayleigh McEnany is one of my top people, she loves Jesus, she loves people and she is strong enough in her faith and morals to stand up for what she believes in. She doesn’t shy down from a challenge and she’s a woman with confidence, grace and class that can’t be matched. Best line from your sponsorship ad? I had Bingham Septic so we made sure it was clever. My ending line was the best. I said, “So don’t waste your time on the others. Go to the company that wipes away the competition.”



Madison Davis 2022 Strawberry Festival First Maid When did you decide you might one day compete in the Florida Strawberry Festival Queen’s Scholarship Pageant? Any previous pageant experience? I’ve always known ever since I was a little girl that I wanted to one day compete in the Florida Strawberry Festival Queen’s Pageant. I’ve always admired the queen and court for their beauty, grace, and confidence, and I wanted to be like them too one day. Never in my wildest dreams did I imagine that I would be in their spot. I decided in my senior year of high school to compete in this pageant for the first time, and I had such a wonderful experience that I wanted to do it again. Competing in this pageant has been all I’ve ever hoped for and more, and I’m so happy to be a part of such an uplifting group of young women. In my freshman year of high school, I decided to do my first serious pageant, Calendar Girl. Ever since then it sparked a love of pageants and what they represent. It’s not just a beauty contest. It’s about confidence, having fun, and presenting your best self. Are you from Plant City originally? What do you love most about eastern Hillsborough County? I’ve lived in Plant City my entire life, and I cannot express my love for this town enough. Our town is so close-knit, there’s not a place I go where I don’t see a friendly face. I love living in Eastern Hillsborough County because (as Hannah Montana says,) we get the best of both worlds. I live in a small town, but I’m just a car ride away from the beach, Disney, or a big city like Tampa. The solid blend of the small town and the big city just makes living here so much fun. Were you nervous during the pageant? In a few words, describe your initial reaction to the announcement of the Top 5 and Queen. At first, I was a little nervous. But after the opening number, all my nerves just melted away. I was simply excited. I decided to just have fun and do my very best. The next time I was called out on stage was for Miss Congeniality, and it caught me so off guard. That is such a huge honor, and if that was all I had achieved that evening, I would’ve walked away proud. I always try my best to simply be kind to people, no matter what, and I’m so humbled I was chosen for this title. When the Top 5 was called, I didn’t even have time to process it. Shocked is an understatement. I was just so happy and excited to represent



my community on the court, and being the First Maid is just an added blessing. How did your family members react to your placement on the Court? I vividly remember just looking where my family were sitting, and suddenly none of them were sitting anymore. Every one of them were on their feet, jumping, yelling, and my uncle was clapping so hard he hurt his hands. My grandmother (Mimi) is the most reserved, classy woman I know, and even she was shaking her fists and screaming my name. It just feels so good to have such a wonderful support system, and I know I would’ve made my family proud even if I had walked away with nothing. In addition to your responsibilities on the court, what other plans do you have for the upcoming year? I am currently on the Dean’s List at Southeastern University, and I plan to continue excelling in my education. Along with that I also plan to continue my church involvement and pursue my favorite hobbies. I love anything that has to do with creative expression. Writing music, playing my ukulele, and painting are my favorites. What role do you most look forward to in representing the strawberry industry and the community? The role I am most looking forward to is simply being a positive influence. As a member of the Strawberry Festival Queen’s Court, I represent not only the Strawberry Festival but also the community. I will strive to encourage young women to follow their dreams, stay humble, and simply be kind. A smile, a hug, or a kind word can go a long way in someone’s life, and I will strive to shine a positive light in any way I can. Who would you like to thank for your success? Without a doubt, I would have to thank the Lord, for preparing me for such a time as this. He has guided my footsteps in every aspect of my life, and His timing is always perfect. I would also have to thank my family for keeping me grounded. They have raised me to always be myself, be confident, and my Mimi has always told me to remember, “Who you are, and whose you are”. The memories I have made with them while preparing for this pageant will last a lifetime. It’s been a lot of laughs and late nights, but I wouldn’t have wanted it any other way.

What person do you aspire to be like in the future? In the future, I aspire to be like my Mimi. She is everything a woman should be. Graceful, confident, kind, selfless, and caring. She goes so above and beyond for the people she loves, that she doesn’t even think about herself, not once. There’s something so beautiful about someone who is selfless, and I admire her more than she knows. She is classy, hilarious, and not to mention, a WIZARD at online shopping! (Teach me your ways!!) She has instilled in me so many life lessons, and I hope to become half of the woman that she is someday. PAGE


Bailey Blanton 2022 Strawberry Festival Court Member When did you decide you might one day compete in the Florida Strawberry Festival Queen’s Scholarship Pageant? Do you have previous pageant experience? Growing up as a little girl in Plant City, I always dreamed of being where I am today. I looked up to the Queen & Court. I didn’t really consider actually being in the pageant until after I competed in Calendar Girl my Junior year of high school and was named Miss May. That pageant really boosted my confidence. I competed in Harvest Queen & Calendar Girl last year. I chose to start with these smaller pageants to see if I enjoyed the experience. I truly did enjoy competing last year, so I decided to push myself to compete in the Florida Strawberry Festival Queens Pageant, and it paid off! Are you from Plant City originally? What do you love most about eastern Hillsborough County? I have lived in Plant City my entire life. One thing that I love most about this town is the community, So much love, and support radiate through our community. Whether I am at the Food Truck Rally downtown, church, or just eating out, there is always a friendly face right around the corner. Plant City cares deeply about the community, supporting one another through all this town has to offer.



In a few words, describe your initial reaction to the announcement of the Top 5 and Queen. Being called for Top 5 was an overwhelmingly relieving yet anxious feeling. I knew my future was going to completely change and I was so excited for it. All the experiences and opportunities opened up to me for being on court made me one hundred times more grateful. In addition to your responsibilities on the court, what other plans do you have for the upcoming year? This year, I plan to go to college (hopefully accepted into UF) and begin my major. Before college, however, I plan to graduate high school with my AA degree from HCC in May. Who would you like to thank for your success? I would like to thank my coach Jessie Rae Varnum, my friends and family that supported me through this entire journey, and above all else, I would like to contribute my success to God, as through Him all things are possible. Describe yourself in three words. I think people recognize me for my determination, responsibility, and creativity…

What person do you aspire to be like in the future? I aspire to be like my mom. She has a full-time job yet, still finds time to fully support her three children. Whether it’s helping my little brother with his homework, driving me and my twin brother to our FFA meetings and competitions, being my #1 supporter at all my volleyball games, or in any other aspect of our lives, she is always there to support us and cheer us on. PAGE


Chloe Hopper 2022 Strawberry Festival Court Member When did you decide you might one day compete in the Florida Strawberry Festival Queen’s Scholarship Pageant? Any previous pageant experience? The principal from my school and George Domedion came into my job and sparked my interest in participating in the pageant. If you asked me a year ago, I would participate, I would have probably told you no, but the day of the first mandatory meeting, I ran to my mom all excited and told her I really wanted to go for it. The first pageant I participated in was my high school’s calendar girl when I was a junior. Out of 20-plus amazing girls, I ended up getting the month of May. Strawberry Queen is the second pageant I’ve participated in.



In a few words, describe your initial reaction to the announcement of the Top 5 and Queen. When I was announced Top 5, I immediately started tearing up and was so proud of myself for giving it my all. In addition to your responsibilities on the court, what other plans do you have for the upcoming year? This year, I will be graduating high school and hope to attend either USF or FAU and major in Marine Biology. I also hope to paint a mural in downtown Plant City with my mom before I leave for college. Describe yourself in three words Kind, caring, and energetic.

Are you from Plant City originally? What do you love most about eastern Hillsborough County?

Who would you like to thank for your success?

I was born in Tampa and raised in the Land O’ Lakes area, but about two years ago, my mom, sister, and I moved to downtown Plant City. I love the friendly and welcoming feeling of the city, immediately making it feel like home.

My selfless and amazing parents for supporting all of my dreams and my siblings for helping me practice questions nonstop and watching me dance a million times. Lastly, my amazing coach Katie Butson for pushing me to be the best version of myself and believing in me the most.

What person do you aspire to be like in the future? My cousin MaKenna is my role model and has always pushed me and encouraged me in every aspect of life. Only being a little bit older than me and she has already taught me so much that I am grateful for. PAGE


Tamia Williams 2022 Strawberry Festival Court Member When did you decide you might one day compete in the Florida Strawberry Festival Queen’s Scholarship Pageant? Any previous pageant experience? It was never a goal of mine to compete in the FSF Queen Scholarship Pageant, but after competing in my high school Calendar Girl event, I felt inspired to go out. I’m glad I did because I met so many new friends and created new memories. This was my first real pageant. Although, I did have a lot of fun and it was a wonderful experience. I encourage anyone who’s interested to participate. Are you from Plant City originally? What do you love most about eastern Hillsborough County? I was born in raised in Plant City, and I cherish the fact that it’s a close-knit community and has become my home. Whenever I leave my house I’m comforted by the fact that I will be welcomed by everyone in the community. In a few words, describe your initial reaction to the announcement of the Top 5 and Queen. When the results were announced, I felt so relieved and shocked at the same time. Not knowing what was going to be said next made me so unsure of my abilities, but hearing



my name called brought back my confidence. My family was beyond ecstatic and proud, they were so supportive throughout all my preparation and even more so now. They always want what’s best for me and thought that the pageant would be a great experience for me. I am beyond appreciative. In addition to your responsibilities on the court, what other plans do you have for the upcoming year? Planning prom for my senior class, choreographing the dances for my school step team, and most exciting graduating high school. There are a lot of things to be done but I have a great support system. I know it will all turn out great. Describe yourself in three words Personable, genuine, and creative. If you could dine with anyone—dead or alive—who would it be and why? I would love to dine with Rihanna because not only is she an immigrant and globally known artist, but also a successful CEO of her own makeup line that’s growing day by day. It’s very inspiring how she remade herself and brand multiple times. I hope that one day I can be as versatile.

What person do you aspire to be like in the future? I aspire to be most like my mom, she has been the perfect role model for my sister and me of what a truly successful lady is. Seeing as how I participate in so many different clubs and activities, and she can handle my schedule and her own is mind-blowing. PAGE



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Community means the world to us.







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Florida Blue Senior Day O’Reilly Auto Parts Ride-A-Thon Day

Publix Food & Fun Day

MIDFLORIDA Credit Union Free Kids Day Circle K Super Saturday Wristband Day

Coca-Cola Family Day

Deep-Fried Strawberry Pie On A Stick Relay @ 2PM in the Stingray Chevrolet Entertainment Tent Publix Showcase Tent 11:00 am, 1:00 pm, & 3:00 pm: Branson Missouri’s The Doug Gabriel Family Show 12 pm, 2:00 pm, & 4:00 pm: Dennis Lee 6:00 pm: Rekindled Bits of Glass Entenmann’s Strawberry Tent: 12:00 pm, 4:00 pm, & 7:00 pm: Jessica Lynn Witty ft. Chris Jones 1:00 pm, 3:00 pm, & 6:00 pm: Kazual Wish Farms Soundstage 10:30 am: Jimmy Sturr & His Orchestra 7:30 pm: Lady A Patterson Co. Livestock Arena 7:00 pm: Mosaic Youth Swine Show



Amish Donut Eating Contest @ 12PM in the Stingray Chevrolet Entertainment Tent Publix Showcase Tent 11:00 am, 1:00 pm, & 3:00 pm: Branson Missouri’s The Doug Gabriel Family Show 12 pm, 2:00 pm, & 4:00 pm: Dennis Lee 6:00 pm: Southbound Entenmann’s Strawberry Tent: 12:00 pm, 4:00 pm, & 7:00 pm: Jessica Lynn Witty ft. Chris Jones 1:00 pm, 3:00 pm, & 6:00 pm: Kazual Wish Farms Soundstage: 3:30 pm: The Beach Boys 7:30 pm: Boyz II Men Patterson Co. Livestock Arena 1:00 pm: Dairy Contestant Judging 7:00 pm: Mosaic Youth Swine Sale

Youth Strawberry Stemming Contest @ 2PM in the Stingray Chevrolet Entertainment Tent Publix Showcase Tent 11:00 am, 1:00 pm, & 3:00 pm: Branson Missouri’s The Doug Gabriel Family Show 12 pm, 2:00 pm, & 4:00 pm: Dennis Lee 6:00 pm: Brake Fail Entenmann’s Strawberry Tent: 12:00 pm, 4:00 pm, & 7:00 pm: Jessica Lynn Witty ft. Chris Jones 1:00 pm, 3:00 pm, & 6:00 pm: Kazual Wish Farms Soundstage: 3:30 pm: Home Free 7:30 pm: Lauren Daigle Patterson Co. Livestock Arena 11:00 am: Dairy Show Showmanship 1:00 pm: Dairy Show

Publix Showcase Tent 10:30 am: Baby Contest 1:00 pm, & 3:00 pm: Branson Missouri’s The Doug Gabriel Family Show 12 pm, 2:00 pm, & 4:00 pm: Dennis Lee 6:00 pm: Pastor “Pee Wee” Callins Entenmann’s Strawberry Tent: 12:00 pm, 4:00 pm, & 7:00 pm: Jessica Lynn Witty ft. Chris Jones 1:00 pm, 3:00 pm, & 6:00 pm: Kazual Wish Farms Soundstage: 3:30 pm: Chicks with Hits ft. Terri Clark, Pam Tillis, and Suzy Bogguss 7:30 pm: Sammy Hagar & The Circle Patterson Co. Livestock Arena 11:00 am: Dairy Showmanship (Adults) 11:30 am: Dairy Pee Wee Showmanship 12:30 pm: Dairy Costume Ball 2:00 pm: Youth Plant Sale



Ace Hardware Grand Parade Day Caspers Company McDonald’s Ride-A-Thon Day

Florida Peanut Federation TWOSDAY Ride-A-Thon Day

The Grand Parade, presented by BerryFine Productions, begins in downtown Plant City at 1:00 pm and will pass the Festival Midway at 2:00 pm. Strawberry Spaghetti Eating Contest @ 5PM in the Stingray Chevrolet Entertainment Tent Publix Showcase Tent 11:00 am, 1:00 pm, & 3:00 pm: Branson Missouri’s The Doug Gabriel Family Show 12 pm, 2:00 pm, & 4:00 pm: Dennis Lee 6:00 pm: Kirstie Kraus Entenmann’s Strawberry Tent: 12:00 pm, 4:00 pm, & 7:00 pm: Jessica Lynn Witty ft. Chris Jones 1:00 pm, 3:00 pm, & 6:00 pm: Kazual Wish Farms Soundstage: 3:30 pm: John Anderson 7:30 pm: Kenzie Wheeler


Peachy’s Youth Pretzel Making Clinic @ 12PM and 2PM in the Kiddie Korral Publix Showcase Tent 11:00 am, 1:00 pm, & 3:00 pm: Branson Missouri’s The Doug Gabriel Family Show 12 pm, 2:00 pm, & 4:00 pm: Dennis Lee 6:00 pm: Reach City Worship Entenmann’s Strawberry Tent: 12:00 pm, 4:00 pm, & 7:00 pm: Jessica Lynn Witty ft. Chris Jones 1:00 pm, 3:00 pm, & 6:00 pm: Kazual Wish Farms Soundstage: 3:30 pm: Ricky Nelson Remembered Starring Matthew & Gunnar Nelson Patterson Co. Livestock Arena: 3:00 pm: Lamb Showmanship 5:00 pm: Lamb Show


Patterson Co. Livestock Arena 3:00 pm: Lamb Jumping Contest 7:00 pm: Lamb Costume Contest








Grow Financial FCU American Heroes Day Ride-A-Thon Day

Florida Blue Senior Day O’Reilly Auto Parts Ride-A-Thon Day

Super Dog Mega Corndog Eating Contest @2PM in the Stingray Chevrolet Entertainment Tent

Strawberry Shortcake Eating Contest @ 2PM in the Stingray Chevrolet Entertainment Tent

Publix Showcase Tent 11:00 am, 1:00 pm, & 3:00 pm: Branson Missouri’s The Doug Gabriel Family Show 12 pm, 2:00 pm, & 4:00 pm: Dennis Lee 6:00 pm: First Baptist Church of Plant City

Publix Showcase Tent 11:00 am, 1:00 pm, & 3:00 pm: Branson Missouri’s The Doug Gabriel Family Show 12 pm, 2:00 pm, & 4:00 pm: Dennis Lee 6:00 pm: Electric Woodshed

Entenmann’s Strawberry Tent: 12:00 pm, 4:00 pm, & 7:00 pm: Jessica Lynn Witty ft. Chris Jones 1:00 pm, 3:00 pm, & 6:00 pm: Kazual

Entenmann’s Strawberry Tent: 12:00 pm, 4:00 pm, & 7:00 pm: Jessica Lynn Witty ft. Chris Jones 1:00 pm, 3:00 pm, & 6:00 pm: Kazual

Wish Farms Soundstage: 3:15 pm: Honor American Heroes 3:30 pm: Lee Greenwood 7:30 pm: Jake Owen

Wish Farms Soundstage: 10:30 am: The Lettermen 3:30 pm: The Drifters, Cornell Gunter’s Coasters, & The Platters 7:30 pm: Tesla

Patterson Co. Livestock Arena: 6:00 pm: Mosaic Youth Steer Show



Livestock Co. Livestock Arena 7:00 pm: Mosaic Youth Steer Showmanship


2022 NO



We Buy Gold & Silver

1705 Jim Redman Pkwy Plant City, FL 33563






Tampa Bay Times Day on the Midway Moonlight Magic

Coca-Cola Family Day

Strawberry Mashed Potato Pie Eating Contest @ 3 PM in the Stingray Chevrolet Entertainment Tent Publix Showcase Tent 11:00 am, 1:00 pm, & 3:00 pm: Branson Missouri’s The Doug Gabriel Family Show 12 pm, 2:00 pm, & 4:00 pm: Dennis Lee 6:00 pm: Pastor “Pee Wee” Callins Entenmann’s Strawberry Tent: 12:00 pm, 4:00 pm, & 7:00 pm: Jessica Lynn Witty ft. Chris Jones 1:00 pm, 3:00 pm, & 6:00 pm: Kazual Wish Farms Soundstage: 3:30 pm: Gene Watson 7:30 pm: Cole Swindell Patterson Co. Livestock Arena 6:00 pm: Beef Breed Showmanship Moonlight Magic: 10:00 pm to 2:00 am

SATURDAY, MARCH 12TH Farm Worker Appreciation Day Circle K Super Saturday Wristband Day Baby Parade @ 10:15 am in the GT Grandstands Publix Showcase Tent 11:00 am, 1:00 pm, & 3:00 pm: Branson Missouri’s The Doug Gabriel Family Show 12 pm, 2:00 pm, & 4:00 pm: Dennis Lee 6:00 pm: SickHot Entenmann’s Strawberry Tent: 12:00 pm, 4:00 pm, & 7:00 pm: Jessica Lynn Witty ft. Chris Jones 1:00 pm, 3:00 pm, & 6:00 pm: Kazual Wish Farm Soundstage: 3:30 pm: Bobby Bones & The Raging Idiots 7:30 pm: Nelly Patterson Co. Livestock Arena: 10:00 am: Mosaic Youth Livestock Judging 7:00 pm: Mosaic Youth Steer Sale



Kitchen Craft Cookware Drawing @ 1:00 pm in the Neighborhood Village Pulaski Vacation Getaway @ 2:00 pm in the TECO Expo Hall Fanta Showcase Soda Throwdown @ 2:30 pm in the Scott’s World of Magic Show Stage Stringray Chevrolet Corvette Drawing @ 5:00 pm in the East Independent Publix Showcase Tent 11:00 am, 1:00 pm, & 3:00 pm: Branson Missouri’s The Doug Gabriel Family Show 12 pm, 2:00 pm, & 4:00 pm: Dennis Lee 5:00 pm: HOLA Plant City! Entenmann’s Strawberry Tent: 12:00 pm, 4:00 pm, & 7:00 pm: Jessica Lynn Witty ft. Chris Jones 1:00 pm, 3:00 pm, & 6:00 pm: Kazual


Wish Farms Soundstage: 3:30 pm: The Bellamy Brothers 7:30 pm: Sam Hunt Patterson Co. Livestock Arena: 11:00 am: Youth Beef Breed Show

ON GROUNDS EXHIBITS K9s in Flight: Noon, 2:00 pm, & 4:00 pm. Sat & Sun show @ 6pm Runa Pacha “Indian World:” 11:00 am, noon, 2:00 pm, 4:00 pm, 6:00 pm, & 8:00 pm


Circus Incredible: 12:30 pm, 3:30 pm, & 6:30 pm Belmont Festival of Magic Show: 11:30 am, 1:30 pm, 4:30 pm, & 6:30 pm Robinson’s Racing Pigs: 11am, noon, 2:00 pm, 4:00 pm, 6:00 pm, & 8:00pm Dakin Dairy Farmers Milking Parlor: Noon, 2:00 pm, & 4:00 pm Meet the Festival’s Mascots “Mr & Miss Berry:” 11 am, 3:30 pm, & 5:30 pm Rock It The Robot: 1 pm, 3 pm, & 6 pm








You are invited to our

grand opening Saturday Feb. 26th.

Shop at:

10 a.m. - 4 p.m.

120 North Collins Plant City

A family owned boutique specializing

in trendy women's fashions, jewelry,

and home decor .



In the 70s, the parishioners used this board to slice berries. Once the strawberries were washed and stemmed, they were poured into this board, the lid was closed and a knife was slide between the two pieces. Photo courtesy of Joseph Herrmann.

Circa late 1990s, Deanna Loetscher Marr shows off Transforming Life Church’s pride and joy at the annual festival. Shortcakes sold impact ministries in Plant City and internationally.

Dozens of volunteers are needed each year to hand stem the berries. The group gathers in the 1914 Plant City High School to stem, wash, and slice buckets of berries each year.

For the Love of Strawberry Shortcake:

A History of the Beloved Dessert Written by Cierra Craft




lorida boasts about 9,000 acres of strawberries and Plant City grows threequarters of the nation’s winter strawberries with commercial varieties such as Radiance, Sensation, Winterstar, and Festival.

At its core, making a strawberry shortcake is simple: pick, wash, chop, sweeten, chill, build and eat. It’s no wonder that Plant City’s beloved celebration has included the sweet treat since the early days.

Whether cake or biscuit, there is something about a bowl of strawberry shortcake that is quintessentially winter in Plant City. It’s hard not to smile with the first bite. The city is known for the dessert as it is the crop— in fact, the words “World Famous” have been used. In an article published in the Tampa Times in 1954, the writer describes: “Nothing is more delightful and appealing than a dish… overflowing with strawberry shortcake, topped with rich, velvety whipped cream—a dish in which Plant City is renowned. During the Winter months, every eating place features this delicacy and at moderate prices.”

In the Strawberry Festival program of the 1930s, within the Plant City Photo Archives’ collection, the Lions Club sold “Strawberry Short-Cake” in 1932 and 1933, the festival’s association began the sales in 1934 through 1936, with another unknown vendor selling shortcake in 1938. Starting in the early 1950s, the ladies of the Order of the Eastern Star Plant City Chapter 81 was the only shortcake vendor on the Festival property, according to Florida Strawberry Festival: A Brief History, written by Lauren Der McNair and Gil Gott. The ladies of the Eastern Star would bake the biscuits fresh in the booth and use a handeddown recipe for whipped cream.

St. Clement “Make Your Own Strawberry Shortcake”

To meet the growing demand for shortcakes and the number of visitors, the festival sought out applications from community groups to serve as a shortcake vendor in 1973. Plant City hotelier Lani Purcell penned a letter to then-festival director Mrs. Louis Gibbs, requesting St. Clement Catholic Church be considered as a strawberry shortcake vendor. Purcell originated the idea of a “Make Your Own Strawberry Shortcake” booth. The original letter is in St. Clement Catholic Church’s archives. “Our guarantee: The freshest, choice berries in Hillsborough County,” wrote Purcell. “An old-fashioned, individual shortcake biscuit, the sweetest of whipped cream.” St. Clement Catholic Church was chosen to be the Festival’s second strawberry shortcake vendor and began serving “Make Your Own” shortcakes in 1974. St. Clement Catholic Church History, written by the parishioners and published in 1993 and sources from the East Hillsborough Historical Society, reports “few more than forty parishioners met at the church social hall to slice and prepare berries to be served that day at the booth.” “In the beginning, we only offered biscuits because it was the Southern thing,” said Project Coordinator Kevin McFaul. Parishioner Joseph Herrmann says it wasn’t until 1999 that the group began offering cake as an option. What sets St Clement apart is truly the “make your own” style, with a choice of cake or biscuit, then guests pile on as few or as many strawberries, a dollop of whipped cream, and what makes it a St Clement shortcake is a topper berry and each guest receives a St Clement “Make

Your Own Strawberry Shortcake” sticker. No other shortcake vendor prior to or since 1974 has offered a “make your own” system of shortcake sales. St. Clement parishioner Barbara Reynolds says she vividly remembers how particular Purcell was about the quality of the food. “When Lani came through the gate, word spread fast that he was on the grounds,” said Reynolds. “And if that whipped cream wasn’t just the right consistency, we had to pull it and take it the back.” At the end of the 1974 festival, St. Clement sold over 15,000 shortcakes at seventy-five cents each. Notables and dignitaries have visited Booth 15 in the Parke building. Joseph Herrmann says one of his favorite memories over the years was when he and his wife met former First Lady Laura Bush. “She stood there and talked to me and my wife for a while and she was just a normal, everyday person,” recalled Herrmann. “But, I was amazed that she chose to speak with us for so long.” In 1987, the church sold its one-millionth strawberry shortcake and gave the buyer a trip to the Bahamas, a lifetime pass to the festival, and a lifetime supply of strawberry shortcakes, among other prizes. Chester Walkowicz from Memphis, Michigan, let a few people walk ahead of him and bought the prize-winning shortcake.” In 2018, St. Clement “Make Your Own Strawberry Shortcake” served its four-millionth shortcake to Cayrn Bowker of Polk City, who received a t-shirt and a plaque.

What makes Transforming Life Church’s shortcake the world’s best? According to Pastor Kyle Judah, funds raised through the booth are used for missions, ministries and to build churches internationally, including Haiti, Jamaica, Belize, Honduras, and Panama. Turkey Creek Middle School & Springhead Elementary School are just a few of the schools to have benefitted recently from the shortcake booth sales. They also support Helping Hands in Dade City for formerly incarcerated adult men to assimilate back into society. The shortcake served by Transforming Life Church is changing lives throughout Plant City, Hillsborough County, and around the world. “We try to keep a good relationship with our local schools and help them when we can,” said Bowers. “We have ministries we support on a regular basis, including Pregnancy Care Center and our church is a First Responders rest stop for the Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office. They are welcome to come and go as they please, use the restroom, write reports, get a snack and drink, whatever they need.” The berries are still stemmed by hand, then sent down a conveyor belt to be washed and sliced. The berries are then added to the church’s “Secret Sauce.” When the shortcake is built, it begins with a base of Winn Dixie yellow sheet cake. Then the farm-fresh berries and then a tower of whipped topping. The church utilizes a high-pressure hose system to spray the cream to a swirling point. “We will produce about 200 5 gallon buckets of berries, 600 pounds of the cream mix for our whipped topping, and 93 cases of sheet cake,” said Bowers.

Transforming Life Church

The entire operation needs approximately 60 people to prepare the berries each day and run the booth in two shifts. Last year, the booth sold about 15,000 shortcakes, noting weather and COVID as possible factors.

“We began in the Arthur Boring Building, then moved near where the TECO Expo hall is today, and five to six years ago, we moved to our current location in the entertainment tent,” said Bowers.

In 2003, Polly Sheffield and Bill Spence of Maitland purchased the 1.7 millionth shortcake sold by the group. The church gave him a flatscreen television as the lucky winner. Spence told the Tampa Tribune at the time that the television was going to their second home in Maggie Valley, North Carolina.

Transforming Life Church, formally known as Turkey Creek Assembly of God, was asked by the festival to open a shortcake booth 43 years ago, according to booth manager Bill Bowers.

In 1979, Turkey Creek Assembly of God sold cake as its base, specifically Sara Lee pound cake. If festival patrons wanted biscuits, they had to go to the St. Clement booth. “We still joke that biscuits are for sausage and gravy,” chuckled Bowers. “There has always been a friendly competition between the booths of who has the better shortcake.” Bowers said the booth can produce one shortcake about every five seconds. While Transforming Life Church’s booth doesn’t have a walk-through line like the other vendors, Bowers says it gives them a chance to pray with booth visitors and really make a connection with them. He says they’ve made friends with people from all over the world, some of whom still stay in touch.

Visit the Transforming Life Church booth in the Entenmann’s Strawberry Tent at the Florida Strawberry Festival, scheduled for March 3 through the 13. Who knows, you may be the next millionth shortcake sold.

East Hillsborough Historical Society

In 1982, the East Hillsborough Historical Society became the third shortcake vendor on festival grounds and this year, celebrates 40 sweet years of “berry” famous shortcake. Located in the Pioneer Village, the booth was repainted to a bright berry red, which will be unveiled for the first time this year.

In 1989, EHHS used biscuits baked by Publix, using a recipe developed by the late Mary Gardner, a past president of the society. In an article published by Tampa Tribune, volunteer Virginia Hull said the biscuits were slightly sweeter than your average biscuit and the grocery chain was under strict instruction not to release the baked goods to any other vendor. Today, EHHS uses over 1,000 flats of berries and more than 60 cases of cakes to build its approximate 27,000 shortcakes. “Our shortcake is made to order,” said Bender. “We offer cake or biscuit and sweetened or unsweetened berries.” EHHS uses an old-fashioned biscuit or a sweet cake, Bender says it’s similar in texture to a slice of birthday cake. The berries are sourced from a local farmer, providing festival-goers with a taste of home. This year, EHHS will begin stemming and slicing berries on Tuesday, March 1 Shelby Bender, president of EHHS, said one of the longtime stemming volunteers, Sarah Copeland, was a physical education teacher at the 1914 school and has a longtime commitment to the building. Groups from local retirement communities, churches, and civic organizations as well as individuals who are long-time supporters of EHHS will dedicate their time to EHHS’ shortcake endeavors. “I have gathered a group of volunteers to staff the [EHHS] shortcake booth during the first shift of the last day of the festival…,” said Outen. “Our group represents Plant City Entertainment, Inc. Community Theater… I am a charter member of the EHHS and continue to support the Society because of the excellent job it has done in ensuring historical preservation, education, and awareness. The Society maintains an outstanding genealogical library and archives, along with museums which are open to the public.” The money raised through shortcake sales goes back to the EHHS museum & archives collection, curation exhibition & supplies, collection development and management, utilities and build-out improvements, program development, and general overhead. EHHS also provides eight graduating seniors with $500 scholarships. Students must attend Plant City, Durant, Strawberry Crest, or Simmons and submit an essay explaining why the humanities are important to today’s culture. The scholarships can be applied to a state college, university, or trade school. EHHS will pre-sale tickets through the city’s elementary schools. Email for a complete list of pre-sale ticket locations. A portion of the sale of pre-sale tickets will benefit the area schools.





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2022 NO


Urgent Care Main

1600 Lakeland Hills Blvd. Mon. - Sun. | 8 am - 6 pm


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XpressCare Highlands 2300 E. County Rd. 540A Mon. - Sat. | 8 am - 6 pm Sun. | 9 am - 3 pm


Priority Care Highlands 2300 E. County Rd. 540A Mon. - Thurs. | 8 am - 5 pm

Fri. | 8 am - 2 pm


Urgent Care South

1033 N. Parkway Frontage Rd. Mon. - Sun. | 8 am - 6 pm


2/7/22 8:13 AM



Festival Fashion Fringe Boutique

601 E Alexander St, Plant City, FL 33563 (813) 754-4438


Mon-Fri 10AM to 6PM Sat 10AM to 3PM | Sun Closed


Denim Jacket Painted by local artist Jules Burt $80 Berry Beaded Clutch (Available in Pink & White) $69.99 Bourbon & Boweties Acrylic & Hoop Earrings $24 Bourbon & Boweties Berry Studs $20


RAOK Boutique

2804 James L Redman Pkwy APT 103, Plant City, FL 33566 (813) 754-7265 Tues & Sat 10AM to 5:00PM Wed-Fri 10AM to 5:30PM Sun & Mon Closed




It’s the Simple Things in Life $32 Milkshake It Strawberry Short $38 Berry Delight Ermirish Stack $35 Berry Washed Acrylic Earrings $18


Sweet Roots Apparel


Berry Nice Tee $29.95 Pink Fray Hem Shorts $44.95 Berry Stylish Beaded Clutch Purse $75 Berry Luxe in Pink Earrings $22 Berry Red Stack $28 Berry Fresh Car Freshie $12.50


Stay Sweet Tee $28 High Rise Distressed Hem Short $36.95 Large Bling Strawberry Scrunchie $4 Berry Iconic Earrings $20 Strawberry Bracelet Stack $28 Berry Graceful Necklace $20 Berry Enchanted Necklace $12




“Roy Parke came by the drugstore and said ‘we’re having a meeting Thursday at my house on entertainment, I’d like you to come,’ and after the meeting, he said he’d like me to be a part of the board,” said Newsome. “He was my dear friend. We traveled a lot to Nashville and Vegas, we met a lot of people and learned a lot about country music.” He says as a committee, the team aims to achieve two goals: Book a clean act as the festival is a family affair and book an act that can put on a good show at the best price possible. He says it can be a puzzle piecing together the entertainment schedule and putting the right artist on the right night. “We know some artists are great for our seniors, so we book them during the 3:30 p.m. show, for example,” said Newsome. “This year’s opening night is Lady A and the final night we are closing with Sam Hunt. Some artists may be here for the festival and fly the next night a thousand miles away, so they can only perform on specific dates. It can be a puzzle to put the schedule together.”

Music & Memories

Interview with Director

Joe Newsome Written by Cierra Craft


lant City native Joe Newsome has had a colorful life: After graduating from the University of Florida with a degree in Pharmacy. He partnered with Shorty Brown to operate Brown - Newsome Prescription Center. He joined the Hillsborough County School Board in 1978, a position he held for 25 years, and neighboring Fishhawk’s high school is named after this “little country boy.” He is a father to three: Dee Parker, Katie Varnum, and Dennis Newsome, and says he has had two of the best wives in life, the late Velma Simmons and he is currently married to Kathy McMichen Newsome. Newsome is the festival’s longest-tenured red coat, leading the committee for headline entertainment since 1980. He has helped bring many big named stars to the festival stage. Newsome says Roy Parke recruited him to the entertainment committee back then and it’s been a wonderful experience.



Newsome has many memories of recruiting stars and seeing artists on the festival stage. He calls booking Glenn Campbell in 1990 for the ‘91 festival, but Campbell couldn’t make it. That same year a music manager called Newsome and pitched a young, up-and-coming, relatively unknown artist to fill the vacancy. The artist was Garth Brooks. “I called my wife Vel and asked, “what do you know about Garth Brooks?” said Newsome. The festival booked him and five months later at the 1991 festival, he was the hottest name in country music riding the wave of Friends in Low Places. He recalled while in Vegas, seeing an advertisement for Merle Haggard’s show on Fremont Street in 2015. He called the agency to try and get in and potentially pique Merle’s interest in performing at the festival. Merle was booked but ultimately couldn’t make it due to his health. Instead, friend Kris Kristopherson filled in at the 2016 festival. Newsome says one artist he has tried to book year after year is Dolly Parton. Newsome reminds me he is the old-timer on the festival’s board and reflects on his life: “Plant City is a great community with great people; I’m just a little country boy who picked strawberries,” said Newsome. “Other than my church and my family, the festival means so much to me. What I have achieved is far beyond my ability, God’s blessed me.”



Q+A with Florida Strawberry Festival President Paul Davis Written by Cierra Craft

Each year, Plant City rolls out the sweet, red carpet for 500,000 visitors to the Florida Strawberry Festival. In its 87th year, the Florida Strawberry Festival is excited to welcome back headline entertainment, after a 2021 hiatus due to the COVID-19 pandemic. This year, seven artists will take the Wish Farms Soundstage for the first time. President Paul Davis extends a warm Plant City welcome to those attending Berry Fest 22, with this behind-the-scenes look at this year’s theme and answers the only question that matters at the Florida Strawberry Festival: Cake or Biscuit?

How was the theme “#1 for FUN!” chosen? Every year, our staff collaborates together to generate ideas for the new theme. We wanted the theme this year to reflect our enthusiasm for our event, and fairs and festivals in general. Fairs and festivals like ours are a dying tradition and we are so thankful we have been able to celebrate 87 years of success and FUN all because of the love and support of our great city and its volunteers. The vendors, exhibitors, staff, directors and associate directors, our maintenance department, ticket takers, parking crews and so many more are the backbone of this event. A new theme is created each year for the Festival to offer patrons a glimpse of the experience they will have at the 11-day event. It also unifies vendors, FFA chapters, organizations, corporate partners, and exhibitors who create parade floats and displays throughout the event. We’re “#1 for FUN!” What’s new this year to the festival? Are there any first-time headline entertainers to the festival in this year’s schedule? The headline entertainment! We have seven newbies who will be first-time performers at our event: Lauren Daigle, Sammy Hagar & The



Circle, Kenzie Wheeler, Zach Williams, Tesla, Nelly and Sam Hunt. I’m eager to taste some of the new food items this year, and I’ve heard there are A LOT! One, in particular, that is generating a lot of buzz in the office is a new Strawberry Slaw Hotdog. The sweet and salty combination is quite intriguing. I like a good ol’ slaw dog, so I’m excited to try this one! As we get closer to our event, make sure you visit our website to get all the information you need to know prior to our 11-day event, and be sure to look for our “What’s New?” press release coming out soon. How many years have you served as President? How has the Festival changed from then to now? I’ve served as President of the Florida Strawberry Festival since 2008 and so much has changed during that time. The variety of entertainment and how it has evolved over the years, vendor and exhibitor selections have increased significantly, and the involvement of youth in our community has grown exponentially over the years. I think the most significant change has been the love and support for our event from the people within our community. Every year the number of volunteers grows by leaps and bounds, and that is a testament to the genuine care and concern the people of this city have for our Festival. We are honored to host our 11-day event where the community comes together to celebrate the bountiful strawberry harvest we cherish. You can’t find that kind of love anywhere else except Plant City! The festival is about as famous for shortcakes as anything else. How many shortcakes do you expect the vendors to sell this year? How many people are expected to visit the festival this year? We hope to sell somewhere between 200,000 to 250,000, maybe more! We have three shortcake vendors on grounds: East Historical Society Shortcake Booth, St. Clements “Make Your Own” Shortcake Booth and Transforming Life Church Shortcake Booth. Most booths allow you to customize your shortcake, and it’s extremely affordable! Typically, we are accustomed to hosting more than half a million guests who come to celebrate the strawberry harvest, but this year we’re “#1 for FUN!” So, who knows, this may be our best year yet! Do you prefer cake or biscuit with your shortcake? Depends on how I feel… NAH, who am I kidding!? I know I may offend some people when I say this, but I prefer cake. I can’t have it any other way! I like my shortcake with a hefty portion of strawberries and a lot of juice. I like how the cake soaks up all the sweetness and that’s where it’s at in my book! I don’t like too much whipped cream though, just a dollop to top those sweet, juicy strawberries. Good thing is, whatever I’m in the mood for, I know I will find it at the Festival.



Spencer Baylor Photo courtesy of Paw-Berries Dog Bandanas

Shelby Lawrence

Crunch Time:

Florida Strawberry Festival livestock shows just around the corner Written by Jennifer Jordan


he Florida Strawberry Festival is a cherished and fun event for many locals, and it’s the perfect time to enjoy eating ripe, delicious strawberries and celebrate the history of strawberries and agriculture in Plant City. During the 11-day event, students from all over Hillsborough County show dozens of steers, swine, sheep, plants, and more. It is during these shows that they hope to make a good impression on judges and potential buyers so that when the sale event occurs, they can make money to be used for college and/or future agricultural projects. Since Plant City has always been a town dedicated to agriculture, it’s important that future generations yearn to learn about livestock and how to produce food for a growing population. It’s also important for our current generations to participate in these local agricultural shows and sales to keep a vital industry in our area thriving while supporting the students who make agriculture a part of their lives. Here are four local ag students that are showing at this year’s Florida Strawberry Festival, and they wanted to share their love of agriculture and the hard work but many rewards you gain while preparing to show at one of the Top 40 Fairs in North America.



Spencer Baylor

Spencer is a Junior at Strawberry Crest High School and is the sentinel of the Strawberry Crest FFA Chapter. He is showing his SewellWatson steer, Puff, at the Strawberry Festival this year. Puff is 15 months old, and Baylor has been working with Puff for the past 11 months, spending roughly 20 to 25 hours every week in the barn to prepare him for the festival. Baylor makes sure Puff is on an adequate feed plan so that he grows properly, walks him to make sure Puff gets plenty of exercise and that he will also be calm in the show ring, as well as washes him multiple times a day to promote Puff’s hair growth and keep him nice and fluffy. Having shown four other steers at the Strawberry Festival, Baylor has experience in the show ring, and stated about the experience of showing, “The experience of the festival is very exciting and nervous at the same time. It’s like an adrenaline rush walking into the ring and it’s nerve-racking the whole time.”

Currently, Baylor uses Instagram to connect with buyers, taking the sale of steers to a different and modern realm. A few years ago, he made a short video documenting his project and sent it out to buyers. To this day, the Crest student has buyers who say they had no idea who he was until he did something different and established a new way of marketing his project. “I decided this year that I wanted to do something different again and found a way that I could benefit both the businesses and my project,” Baylor said about using social media to connect with buyers. “I advertise local businesses to Puff’s followers while also advertising my project to these businesses and telling them about my project.” In the future, Baylor would like to possibly win a state title or two in FFA Career Development Events. After high school, he hopes to get a degree in the field of agriculture, as well as work in the ag industry.

Shelby Lawrence

Shelby is a seventh-grader at Marshall Middle Magnet and is the sentinel of the Marshall FFA Chapter. She is also the secretary of her 4-H Club, Udderly Legendary, and will be showing her steer, Casper, at the Florida Strawberry Festival. Casper is a Charolais and Maine cross male that’s a little under two years old. Lawrence has been working with Casper for almost a year and works roughly 15 hours per week with him. Lawrence stated about the work it takes to show: “I work Casper with a show stick to make sure he’s ready for the ring, I wash him almost every day, and I feed him. I also walk him

around the yard, and I’m getting him used to other people so he’s not nervous at the festival. You have to be persistent at working with your animal, it’s a lot of work and effort. I would recommend going to the plant barn and animal barn at the festival and seeing the time that these kids put into their projects, it teaches you a lot about what we have to do.” Showing at other fairs, Lawrence has experience in the show ring but will be a first-time shower at the Strawberry Festival. “Since I’ve never shown at the festival, I’m not sure what to expect, but I’m excited to see how everything is set up and done at the festival,” said Lawrence. She is planning to sell Casper at the festival and is hoping to sell him for $4,000 to $5,000. In the future, Lawrence will continue with FFA at Strawberry Crest High School and is hoping to attend Auburn University for veterinary school. When asked about why agriculture is important, she replied, “Working in agriculture teaches life skills such as leadership, courage, confidence, and consistency, and I’m grateful for all I’ve learned and the fun I have being a part of Ag.”

Drew Blanton

Drew is a senior at Plant City High School and is President of the school’s FFA Chapter. At the Florida Strawberry Festival, Blanton will be showing his steer, Dinnerbell. Dinnerbell is around one and a half years old, and the pair have been working together for 10 months. Blanton works about 14 hours per week with Dinnerbell, taking him on walks, feeding him morning and evening, and bathing him regularly to maintain a healthy

Drew Blanton

and fluffy coat. Soon to be his fourth time showing at the festival, it will be his’s first time showing a steer, as he showed swine the previous times. According to Blanton, “I wanted to go out with a bang by showing a steer.” Since he is a senior, it will be his last year to show. He stated about his last show, “It’s going to be very sad, but being a part of FFA has given me some of my best experiences and memories. I wouldn’t be who I am today without joining FFA.” Since he’s done two shows with Dinnerbell already, Blanton is confident that Dinnerbell will do great at the festival. He’s planning to sell Dinnerbell as well and is hoping to get at least $5 per pound. For his future goals, Blanton wants to become a Florida state officer for FFA, a commitment that would last for a year and allow him to live his passion. He’s hoping to be accepted to the University of Florida and major in either Environmental Science or Ag Communications, with the eventual goal of going to law school and becoming an Agriculture Lawyer. “[Being a part of FFA and agriculture] is the best choice I’ve ever made,” said Blanton. “It’s allowed me to grow as a person and learn how to be somewhat of an entrepreneur. Every experience of getting to work with an animal and go to shows has been fun and great, I’ve never had a bad experience and I highly recommend younger students get involved in FFA because of the confidence and friends you gain.”

Makinley Jensen

Makinely is an eighth-grader at Tomlin Middle School and President of their FFA Chapter. She also a member of the 4-H Club. At the Florida

Strawberry Festival, she will be showing her sheep, Princess and Baroness. Princess and Baroness are about a year old, and they’re breeding sheep, so they won’t be sold at the festival. Jensen has two other sheep that are currently pregnant and won’t be shown until after their babies are born. Jensen works with her sheep about 5 hours per week, walking her sheep every day to build muscle, washing and using leg shag on them once a week to keep their coats soft, and feeding them daily. Prior to the festival, she will also have to shave their bodies except for their legs, as the judges prefer to see shaved sheep. Having experience showing at the festival, Jensen said, “It’s really fun; I’ve made a lot of friends showing sheep and I’ve also learned a lot of responsibility. This will be my third year showing and it’s always a good time. Hoping to potentially win a prize for Princess and Baroness’ appearances, Jensen also said, “To me, showing is more about teaching yourself important life skills and less about winning. You learn to take care of something else and do everything on your own, it’s hard work but it’s worth it.” In the future, Jensen is planning to continue FFA at Plant City High School and is hoping to become a Florida state officer for FFA and then a national FFA officer. She said, “I just want to be able to encourage as many students to join FFA as I can because it’s always been a great experience and something I fell in love with. You learn how to create and make goals and being in FFA is special to me.”

Makinley Jensen PAGE


Festival Calories Don’t Count

Your guide to Popular Festival Foods Each year, foodies flock to the Florida Strawberry Festival to seek out new exciting fair foods and indulge in old favorites. These are just a few of the highly sought-after food vendors returning to the 2022 Florida Strawberry Festival. To prevent long lines and crowding in the fight against

NEW Strawberry Lemon Ricotta Funnel Cake Vendor: Best Around Concessions

Location: North of the Entenmann’s Strawberry Tent Jane Harris, known as Mama Jane, has announced her new 2022 Florida Strawberry Festival treat: Strawberry Key Lime Pie Funnel Cake. With Plant City strawberries, fresh lime juice will be used to give it that local flavor. Top it with powdered sugar and some fresh strawberries and a key lime glaze.



COVID-19, some of these vendors may have been relocated from previous years. Please visit the Florida Strawberry Festival website for any information about food vendors and the Festival’s response to COVID-19 at

Vinegar French Fries

Amish Doughnuts

Island Noodles

Vendor: Fiske Fries Location: West of the Hull Armory Building

Vendor: Peachy’s Baking Co.

Vendor: Island Noodles Location: West of Wish Farms Soundstage

Location: West Independent, Kiddie Korral (East Independent)

Fresh-peeled, fresh-cut, Fiske Fries remains unchanged for 80 years. These French fries are never frozen and Fiske Fries owner Jerry Price said in an interview with ABC News the most popular way to eat them is with a little vinegar and salt. Year after year, Festival goers go nuts for the hot fries.

Sarasota-based Peachy’s Baking Co. makes a splash each year with their famous Amish doughnut. Whether glazed original, coconut cream, or the Sweetheart- a Peachy’s original donut, drizzled with chocolate, fresh strawberries, and whipped cream. You will find at least three Peachy’s iconic teal trucks on the Festival grounds.

Chocolate Dipt Bacon

Strawberry Parfaits, Cheesecake, & More

Vendor: Mavric’s Chocolate Barn

Location: South end of the Entenmann’s Strawberry Tent Plant City native Cindy Griffin founded Mavric’s Chocolate Barn, serving up delicious treats dipped in chocolate. When strawberries, marshmallows, and marshmallow rice treats dipped in chocolate were enough, the Griffins began serving Chocolate “Dipt” Bacon! Combining the savory Hormel thick-sliced bacon with the sweet chocolate, it’s one of the Festival’s most sought-after treats.

Hand-Dipped Buttermilk Corndogs

Vendor: Alessi Bakery Location: Inside TECO Expo Hall Tampa’s historic Alessi Bakery will have your traditional strawberry favorites as only Alessi can. Be sure to indulge in their strawberry cheesecake, éclairs, tarts, turnovers, parfaits and more.

Island Noodles is back with their wok-fired Soba noodles. It’s a simple meal served in take-out containers, consisting of Soba noodles, a variety of 21 vegetables and a proprietary sauce. Order with chicken for extra protein and top with Sriracha to spice things up. Don’t forget the chopsticks!

Chocolate Bacon Kabob Vendor: Sunshine Concessions Location: Woodrow Wilson Street What’s better than berries and bacon? This new fair food is sure to be a hit with strawberries dipped into warm chocolate and coated with bacon bits for a sweet and salty flavor combination.

Strawberry Brisket Tacos

Candy & Caramel Apples

Location: East of the Stadium Exhibit Hall, West of Neighborhood Village

Vendor: Johnson’s BBQ Location: East of the Stadium Exhibit Hall

Vendor: Netterfield’s Popcorn & Lemonade, Inc. Location: Edwards Street and Pioneer Village

Crisp on the outside, warm and doughy on the inside, Smitty’s Original Hand-Dipped Buttermilk Corndogs are one of the many reasons to get excited about the Florida Strawberry Festival. With two stands on the festival grounds, these are said to be the best corn dogs at the Festival- don’t leave without one.

Local favorites Johnson’s BBQ will be at the Festival yet again with their Strawberry Brisket Tacos. Johnson’s delicious brisket, topped with cilantro, onion, cheese, sweet BBQ sauce and fresh sliced strawberries in a soft tortilla. If you’re looking for a familiar BBQ taste with a new twist, be sure to say hello to Owen Johnson and the crew at the Festival.

Netterfield’s is fair famous for their lemonade and popcorn, but don’t sleep on Netterfield’s Candy & Caramel Apples. Whether the glossy traditional red Candy Apples or the beautiful Caramel apples rolled in sprinkles, peanuts and other toppings, Netterfield’s cool crisp apple is exactly what you want.

Vendor: Smitty’s




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Uncle G’s Bed & Biscuit By Cierra Craft Photos courtesy of Uncle G’s Bed and Biscuit


hen choosing a groomer or boarding facility, Plant City pet parents turn to Uncle G’s Bed & Biscuit. Founded in September 2001 by Virginia and Gary Noonan, Uncle G’s Bed and Biscuit officially opened in May 2002 as a home away from home for pets. Gary, known as Uncle G, was in a motorcycle accident that took his life; Virginia ran the business with her son Matt to honor Uncle G. In 2016, Mark & Diane Krieger purchased the business. Caring for animals is more than a profession for the Krieger family- it’s a passion! This year, Uncle G’s is celebrating 21 years as Plant City & Dover’s premier animal grooming and boarding services provider.

Rub-A-Dub-Dub: Grooming at Uncle G’s

When choosing a groomer, pet owners look for experienced and knowledgeable professionals. Uncle G’s Bed & Biscuit is committed to delivering the best grooming experience possible. Pets are treated with care and compassion, creating a stress-free environment. While regular grooming certainly helps to maintain your pet’s coat and tidy up their appearance, its most important benefit is improving their health and hygiene. Dogs have some self-grooming abilities, but they can’t scrub away accumulated dirt, oil, hair, and skin cells. PAGE


Uncle G’s Grooming packages include a haircut, bath, nail clipping, clean pads of feet, ear hair removal/cleaning, anal glands cleanse, sanitary clean, and special shampooing (at no extra charge). Pricing for canines is based on size, with Pomeranians at $44 and Chows ranging from $45 to $55. Pricing for felines depends on services required: Bathing $30-$35 or Bath and Shave $60 to $70. Canine nail clippings are $12 and feline nail clippings are $14. Join Uncle’s G Grooming Rewards Club for keeping your pet looking their best. Purchase five grooming visits and get your sixth visit free. Ask for a Grooming Rewards card at your next visit.

Catch Some Z’s: Boarding at Uncle G’s

Going out of town and need a safe, comfortable kennel for your furry friend? Consider Uncle G’s Bed & Biscuit your home away from home! Dogs can feel free to run around the outdoor play area and play with Uncle G’s staff of animal lovers. Checkin with two other doggie friends and get a discount on your stay. Pets then unwind and relax in the climate-controlled kennel after their fun-filled day in the sun. Prices are per night: Up to 30 lbs: $30.00; 31 lbs – 99 lbs: $35.00; 100 lbs. and Up: $40.00; Additional Dog per run: $20.00; Doggy Day Care: $20.00. Cats can climb to their heart’s content. Unsheathe those claws and prowl around the activity area. After exploring, felines can stretch out in one of the secluded cat condos and take a long nap. Cat boarding is $20 per night, with an additional cat in the

same condo $10. Ask about their Frequent Barker Card, when you book six nights of boarding, Uncle G offers the seventh night free. The free night is not applicable to holidays.

The Cat’s Meow

Customers left reviews of Uncle G’s Bed and Biscuit, raving about the amenities in place for pets and the trust they put in the team to care for their furry loved one. “Uncle G’s did a fantastic job taking care of my babies. What I loved about the facility is that they had a run and weren’t locked in a kennel all day. They could come in and enjoy the air and go outside at their leisure…” - K.E. “Our dog Sparky (now 8 yrs. old) has been going to Uncle G’s Bed and Biscuit for kennel stays and grooming since he was a year old. Teri (groomer) does an outstanding job on our Pomeranian! Awesome staff and a great place for your pets to stay while your away!!” - B.K. “After reading more positive reviews than I can recall, this was a no-brainer. Nice place! GREAT PEOPLE! Our pup was there for 3 nights. She was well taken care of .. . she came home clean, happy, smelling fresh, no fleas !! Won’t hesitate to use Uncle G’s again. ! Smart, safe choice for sure!” - G.R. If you want to spoil your pet with a day to the groomer or need a safe, comfortable boarding facility while you’re out of town, look no further than Uncle G’s Bed & Biscuit at 1821 Stephens Lane in Dover. Call Uncle G’s Bed and Biscuit team to book your tour at (813) 689-6725.

1821 Stephens Lane, Dover, FL 33527 | (813) 689-6725 | PAGE


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Haynes By Jennifer Jordan

DJ Haynes is a 6’ 1” senior at Plant City High School. Since freshman year, Haynes has played on both the basketball team and the football team. A true athlete, he’s played both sports since he was five years old, but stated, “I enjoy football more and hope to go to college and play football.” During this past football season, DJ was a starting safety and an outside linebacker, averaging 10-11 tackles per game. Haynes had an outstanding season, posting 90 tackles, 26 tackles for loss, and eight sacks. He made first team in the Western Conference for Hillsborough County, was runner-up for Defensive Player of the Year for Hillsborough County, and he won Defensive Player of the Year for the Raider football team. For basketball, Haynes acted as point guard, averaging 17 points, eight rebounds, and five assists per game. In December 2021, Haynes achieved an uncommon feat, reaching 1000 points and receiving a banner for the achievement. The Raider basketball team ended their season second in the county in early February. Now that his senior year is coming to an end, Haynes has some college visits planned. After the visits, he plans to commit to a school. However, Haynes said, “I would like to attend FAMU (Florida A&M University) to play football and continue my education.” A great athlete with many awards to be proud of, DJ Haynes will succeed in any athletic endeavor he chooses.





Team of the Month

PCHS Cheer Wins States, 5th in the Nation By Cierra Craft


n February 1, cheerleaders from across the state of Florida gathered at the O’Connell Center at the University of Florida to compete head-to-head in the FHSSA Competition Cheer State Competition. Plant City, Durant, and Strawberry Crest attended, with the Raiders and Chargers hoisting a trophy at the end of the night. Plant City High School competed in the FHSSA 2A Small Non-Tumbling division, against ten other schools. As the winners were called starting with 10th place, the cheerleaders of Plant City High School were on the mat with heads bowed in prayer, clapping for each team placement as it inched closer to 1st place. Then the 10 months of hard work, overcoming broken bones, and five to six days-per-week practices came down to one more:



“First place, Plant City High School!” The girls jumped to their feet embracing one another and coach Karen Snapp, Scotti Snapp Mesquita, Sara Kate Snapp, and Cala Callins, joined in a hug. This class of cheerleaders just broke school history; this was the first time Plant City High School placed first at the FHSSA state competition. This season, the Raider cheerleaders also won three county competitions, placed 2nd of 9 at UCA Regional competition, were named Western Conference Champs, won the FHSSA Regional competition. They’ve placed first at the regional level for three consecutive years and have finished top 6 in the nation in 2020 and 2021. The weekend of February 11 through the 13, 2022, the Raiders traveled to the Happiest Place on Earth, Walt Disney World Resort, for the UCA

National High School Cheerleading Championships. Plant City competed against more than 50 other teams in their division and performed in the Preliminary, Semi-Finals, and Finals competitions. On Feb. 13, the 2021-2022 Plant City High School Competition Cheer team was named 5th in the nation. For Plant City seniors, Callie Smith, Madison Hood, and Makenzie Cole, this season came to an end with a top 5 team in the nation and four years of memories to last a lifetime. This group of competition cheerleaders, with Smith, Hood, and Cole at the helm, are going down in PCHS history as one of the most decorated teams in school history. Congratulations to the PCHS Competitive Cheer team.



Meet the


Paulina Vo, Pho Reel Badges


By Jennifer Jordan

nterchangeable badge reels. You might not know exactly what they are, but for those who work in a field that requires carrying a visible ID or keys, badge reels are a necessity. Badge reels allow you to keep your ID on display and not risk your keys or badge falling out of your pocket. They’re small, compact, lightweight, and simple to use. They clip right onto clothes and can be retractable for easily swiping your ID and opening doors with your keys. Paulina Vo, a born and raised Plant Citian and fourth-grade teacher at Cork Elementary, makes interchangeable badge reels under her business name, Pho Reel Badges. She sells badge reels and “felties” that can be switched out due to having a Velcro backing on the feltie and on the badge reel, allowing each badge reel to come to life in a fashionable and fun way. Beginning in August 2020 after seeing felties for sale on Etsy for $15-$20 but wanting to have a stylish badge reel, Vo decided to create her own to save money. Upon seeing her felties and designs, her coworkers asked her about making some for them, and the rest is history. She has many designs that she can use and tries to pick ones that are popular according to the time of year. “I change the felties designs throughout the year and will sell themed felties according to what holiday is coming up, in addition to felties with various quotes when there aren’t holidays,” stated Vo. For example, she is currently selling strawberry designs for the upcoming Strawberry Festival, Valentine’s Day designs, and St. Patrick’s Day designs. The badge reels and felties are great for teachers, nurses, and anyone who needs to display an ID or carry keys at work while wanting to be stylish. It takes Vo roughly five minutes to make each badge reel/feltie, and she sells each badge reel and feltie for $5 each, however you only have to buy a badge reel once because the felties are interchangeable. Vo accepts payments through Cash App, PayPal, and Venmo. Once the



feltie is purchased and made, Vo can either meet up with the purchaser in person to give them the feltie or give them to the purchaser’s child if they are a student at Cork Elementary. While currently advertising her business through her personal Facebook page and Pho Reel Badge’s Instagram page, Vo is planning to create a Pho Reel Badges Facebook page to expand her business, in addition to making and selling croc charms in the future. She also stated, “I’d love to collaborate with other small businesses and team up for special occasions, like during holidays when events are hosted.” Vo makes her designs from home at her kitchen table and has a future goal of creating her own feltie making space that is organized and has all the supplies she needs laid out. In her fifth year of teaching, Vo also works at Amalie Arena during hockey season and is a fan of both the Lightning and the Buccaneers. She also considers herself a “St. Augustine enthusiast”, visiting the city as often as she can, as it is her favorite place. Vo also considers herself a foodie, and loves trying different food and new places. She enjoys 90’s television shows and loves Beverly Hills, 90210. Vo is of Chinese and Vietnamese heritage, and her cultures are extremely important to her and inspired the name of Pho Reel Badges, with her noting, “Everything goes back to your roots, you have to embrace where you come from. I want people to know who I am and that I’m proud of who I am.” She is also a graduate of Plant City High School and the University of South Florida, earning a degree in elementary education. In the future, she hopes to travel out of the country more. To order a badge reel or feltie and show off your ID and keys in style, message Paulina Vo through Pho Reel Badge’s Instagram page at @ phoreelbadges.











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Leaders in

Faith Trevor Thomas By Cheryl Johnston


or three decades, actor and entertainer Trevor Thomas has toured America, creating characters people can laugh at, cry with, and learn from. Professionally, he maintains an annual tour schedule with approximately 180 engagements at churches, concerts, and various special events. Theater, comedy, music, and evangelism are part of every performance; and he describes his work as “Broadway, Shakespeare, Red Skelton, and Carol Burnett meet Billy Graham.” Trevor and his family merge their talents in a combination of characters, sketches, songs, and mime. Everything varies from funny to serious; however, all material is worshipful, evangelistic, and edifying for the church. It is an unforgettable worship experience for the believer and a picture of salvation for the lost. The Gospel of Jesus Christ is always the theme! Tell us about your family. My wife Sawyer and our daughter Claire perform with me when their schedules allow. Sawyer, who has a professional, polished voice, earned a bachelor’s degree in vocal music education, and teaches English to Seffner Christian Academy middle-school students. Claire is a dancer and practices three times each week after school. We all record exclusively for Chapel Valley Music on the Sanctuary label. And for fun, we enjoy theme parks and movies. Imagine that! How did you become involved in the performance ministry? As an eight-year-old, I invited Christ into my life. I grew up in Temple Terrace, graduated from King High School in 1991, attended East Chelsea



Baptist Church and served on the church’s Creative Arts/Drama Team. I dedicated my life to ministry during the summer before I entered high school. I had always known I would do work related to the arts and performing, which is why I earned a bachelor’s degree in communication with a minor in theater performance in 1995. Describe some of the characters you’ve created or mimicked. One of the audience favorites is the ‘old man,’ who tells stories such as ‘’Twas the night before Christmas in the nursing home.’ Another is a eulogy performed at a funeral during which no one showed up. My Elvis impression is also well received. You’ve also served in ministry at Shiloh Baptist Church here in Plant City, right? Yes, I was the staff evangelist from 2002 to 2017. What do you love about your work? It’s wonderful to do and enjoy this work as a calling and gift from God. My performances have purpose and build up to an altar call at the end, so guests can invite Jesus into their life if they haven’t done that yet. I perform at GraceWay Church every year. In the past I have ministered at numerous churches in Plant City including Church on the Rock, Eastside, First Baptist, Liberty, Shiloh and many others. It’s such fun to make people laugh and help them think about their life with Christ as well. Our services can be funny, yet serious. Describe what you enjoy most about Plant City? We love the down-home community feel of the town. It’s a small town feel that’s close to a metroplex. Plant City has always been very supportive of what I do and welcoming of ministries that promote the Gospel. I promote Plant City everywhere we go, by verbally mentioning it across the country during the performance. Plant City appears on all of our printed materials. And, oh yeah, STRAWBERRIES!


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Candy’s Corner By Candy Owens


ome live with me and be my love, and we will all the pleasures prove. And I will make thee beds of roses and a thousand fragrant posies, a belt of straw and ivy buds, with coral clasps and amber studs. Fairlined slippers for the cold, with buckles of the purest gold. And if these pleasures may thee move, Come live with me and be my love. Saint Valentine’s Day, commonly known as Valentine’s Day, is observed on February 14 each year and has evolved into an occasion in which lovers express their love for each other by presenting flowers, offering confectionery and sending greeting cards known as ”valentines.” The month of February was always a funfilled and exciting month for me. There was Valentine’s Day, my sister Karen’s birthday, my very close friend Cindy Jeffries’ birthday, my best friend JeanAnn Weaver’s birthday, and the February edition of my favorite magazine, Tiger Beat. That meant three birthday parties, a party at school, a big box of candy and gift from my Daddy, and…hopefully a new poster of Donny Osmond, David Cassidy, Tony DeFranco, or Bobby Sherman included in my magazine. Hey, just how much fun could a young girl have back in the early 1970s? In downtown Plant City, love was in the air and everywhere you looked around. Kirby’s bakery had lace doily covered shelves packed with red, white, and pink Valentine cakes, cupcakes, and cookies. The window displays had swirling cupids hanging from string, tissue-paper hearts, and satin-covered candy boxes. Speaking of satincovered candy boxes, one of my favorite things was to be riding home on the school bus heading East on Reynolds Street when our bus would stop at the red light right in front of Myrle Henry’s Drug Store. “Brother Myrle”, as he is affectionately known to so many in our town, would have a huge wooden heart in the window that held a large display of-satin covered, heart shaped boxes of candy. They were all covered with lace and flowers and ranged in sizes from small to too big to hold. They were the most beautiful boxes that I had ever seen. All the girls would move to the left side of the bus as we approached the red light so that we could look out the window and see all the candy on display. When our school bus turned right onto Collins Street we would then look into the window of White’s Drug Store. They also had a beautiful window display. All us girls would ogle over those candy boxes all the way home. With all three very important birthday




parties coming up, my sister Karen’s birthday on the 10th, Cindy Jeffries’ on the 18th , and JeanAnn’s on the 19th , I had some major shopping to do. I had a lot of pressure to get just the right gift. My sister’s birthday meant that our house would be filled with teenage girls who really did not want a little sister hanging around. Cindy’s and JeanAnn’s birthday parties meant that I had to get the most groovy of groovy gifts because I was a grade ahead of them and I had to be too cool for school. The pressure was on. I would have my mother write a note to my school bus driver giving me permission to get off the bus in front of the post office. I would walk to my father’s office which at that time was the Neighborhood Service Center and is now the Trinkle Law Firm. My father would walk me across the street to The Other Brother, which was a gift shop connected to the right side of White’s Drug Store. I remember there was a beautiful fountain inside stocked with orange Koi fish. There was also a sign taped on the fountain that said: “Please do not touch the fish.” Probably because every time I went in that store I would try to catch one of the fish when I thought no one was looking. The Other Brother was such a nice shop with cards and gifts like little china figurines, candles, salt and pepper shakers, and unusual decorating items for your home. I also remember the three ladies that worked in the shop. I believe their names were Madge, who was a short dark haired little lady, Marie with the almond-shaped eyes, and Kathleen Sanchez. Kathleen was a beautiful blonde teenage girl who was the daughter of Plant City’s very own Dr. Alex Sanchez. If I did not find the right gift there then I had my Dad drive me over to Ruby’s Gifts on East Baker Street. This was a totally different short of shop. In fact, my father would always say: “Are you sure you want to go there?” Ruby’s carried things like velvet black-light posters, hand-carved African figurines, incense in the cone or stick, candles of all shapes and sizes, strobe lights, hanging artwork such as peace signs or smiley face mobiles, and anything to do with a psychedelic nature. The store always smelled of Patchouli as you shopped to the sounds of Ravi Shankar’s sitar music. Ruby herself would emerge from behind beaded curtains to assist her shoppers. I always felt as if I were in the middle of the Beatle’s “Strawberry Fields Forever” video when I was there. But remember, a kid’s got to do what a kid’s got to do. If I wanted to buy the grooviest

of grooviest gifts and be the big hit of JeanAnn’s and Cindy’s birthday parties, then I had to shop at Ruby’s. When I was looking for a sophisticated gift for my teenage sister, then I would have my mother drive me to The Strawberry Pond, which was at the old Plant City Mall. There you would find Mrs. Mary Gaye Crum and her son Tommy, who sold everything strawberry. Strawberry china, strawberry glassware, strawberry stationary, strawberry jewelry, strawberry candles, strawberry incense, strawberry perfume, anything and everything strawberries. They would even wrap your gift with strawberry wrapping paper. The next important item on my agenda for February was to have my mother take me to the Speedee Shop on Park Street to pick up the February issue of Tiger Beat Magazine. (The building still stands but is boarded up and is to the right of HCC.) I could not wait to see the poster, which would be tightly stapled inside. I had my mother drive me home as fast as she could. I rushed into the house, got the scissors, and had her carefully remove the staples. I could hardly wait to hang my new Donny Osmond poster that said:”Will you be my Valentine?” with him clutching a giant teddy bear. I decided that I wanted to hang my new poster from the ceiling right over my bed. That way I could look up at Donny when I went to sleep and look at Donny when I woke up. I hung that poster all by myself by jumping on my bed like it was a trampoline with thumb tacks in one hand and my shoe in the other. Needless to say, I got in so much trouble for putting holes in my ceiling and jumping on my bed like that. When Valentine’s Day came, I would get off the school bus and run all the way home. My father would have valentines and heart-shaped boxes of candy for me, my sister, my mother, and even one for JeanAnn. When my father passed away my mother made sure that JeanAnn got a box of candy the following year. My mother drove the box of candy to JeanAnn’s office and left it on her desk. When JeanAnn opened her card, it said: Love, Papa. To all who have Valentines this year, may that love grow more each day. For all who are single, may you never forget to love yourself first and may the love you’ve been waiting for find you.



IN MEMORY OF GLENN W. CALLIS April 1935 - February 2021

• • • •

12,000 Sq, Ft. Facility Knowledgeable and Service -Oriented Staff Machine Shop Industrial Hydraulic Hoses In Stock & Made While You Wait • Hydraulic Cylinders Resealed • Large Inventory of Tube Fittings, Pipe Fittings & Swivels

• Large Inventory of Oil & Cylinder Seals (Metric & Standard Sizes) • Ball Valves, Brass & High Pressure • 12 Volt Dump Trailer Power Packs • Hydraulic Pumps & Valves • Wide Assortment of Hydraulic Cylinders & More!!!

We Stock & Sell Commercial Pressure Washers and Accessories

First Call is a unique fellowship of extraordinary people and their families that are committed to strengthening each other in faith as they face the fires found in their calling to “Protect, Serve and Connect” our communities as First Responders.

First Call Church 1510 Cre Road (813) 652-8178 Dover, FL 33527




Glenn Callis

808 W. MLK Blvd. Plant City

813-759-0599 Mon. - Fri. 7:30am - 5:00pm



Our Assisted Living & Independent Living Community is growing again! Come see why Plant City residents love our locally owned and operating senior living community!

Call Today: 863.873.6222





Rooted in Plant City, we love our community and appreciate the continued support!

Thank You Neighbors!

When buying, selling, building, or refinancing – ALWAYS request Hillsborough Title to close.

We offer: Multiple Locations Statewide In-House Real Estate Attorneys Dedicated IT Staff Protecting Our Buyers & Sellers Exceptional Service with Personal and Professional Care

Contact Hillsborough Title 813.754.4440






Dining Around Town

Strawberry Edition BY CIERRA CRAFT


ooking for something sweet to satisfy that sweet tooth? This month, we dine on all things Florida strawberries! From strawberry milkshakes to chocolate-dipped strawberries to even strawberry pizzas and wines, this deliciously sweet fruit can be consumed in so many ways. Show these local businesses your patronage this strawberry season

Parkesdale Farm Market 3702 W Baker St, Plant City, FL 33563 | (813) 754-2704 Open Daily 9 AM to 6 PM

Strawberry Shortcake: $4.50 Strawberry Shortcake with Ice Cream: $6 Sundae Boat - ice cream, berries, non-dairy topping: $4.50 Strawberry Milkshake: $2.75 Strawberry Cookies: $4 Strawberry Bread: $5 Strawberry Preserves: $4 Strawberry Salsa: $5.50

Fancy Farms Market 5204 Drainfield Road, Lakeland, FL 33811 | (813) 754-4852 Monday- Saturday 9 AM to 6 PM | Sunday- Closed

Strawberry Milkshakes: $5 Strawberry Shortcakes with whipped cream: $5 Strawberry Shortcake with ice cream: $6 Strawberry Bread: 2 for $5 Strawberry Cookies: $6

Three Hands Mead Co. 111 S Evers St, Plant City, FL 33563 | (813) 707-6323 Wed & Thurs 5:30 PM to 9 PM | Fri 5:30 PM to 11 PM Sat 1PM to 11PM | Sun 1PM to 9PM

Strawberry Mead: Full glass, $8; Half glass, $4



Culver’s 2103 N Park Rd, Plant City, FL 33563 813-707-0800 Daily 10:30 AM to 12 AM

Strawberry Shake: Small, $3.49; Medium, $4.29; Large, $5.29 Strawberry Malt: Small, $3.69; Medium, $4.49; Large, $5.49 Strawberry Concrete Mixer: Small, $4.39; Medium, $4.99; Large, $5.99

Olde Town Pizzeria & Pasta Co.

The Mad Batter Bakeshop

3011 James L Redman Pkwy, Plant City, FL 33566 | (813) 752-5800 Sun-Thurs 11 AM to 9:30 PM

(813) 375-1975 | Facebook: @themadbatterbakeshop

Strawberry Walnut Salad: Regular, $8; Large, $11

Strawberry Sugar Cookies: Small, $2 each; Large, $3.50 Strawberry Cake Pops: Vanilla, Chocolate, Red Velvet & Strawberry, $3 each Fresh strawberry cupcakes: $30 per dozen

Tani’s for Dessert 813-704-5947 | Facebook @tanisfordessert

Tani’s for dessert is still offering the same delicious cakes, pies, and desserts you’ve come to love! Chocolate Covered Gourmet Strawberries, beautifully packaged: $30/dozen, 6/$15, 4/$7.50 Strawberry Queen Cake: 8” $55, 6” $35 Fresh Strawberry Pie: $30 New York Style Cheesecake, on Oat Pecan Crust, topped with freshly made, strawberry topping: $65

Brick House Cafe 206 S Evers St, Plant City, FL 33563 | (813) 752-8546

Strawberry Cake: Whole, $40; By the Slice, $3.99













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February 26

All That Glitters is Gold 6:00PM-11:00PM Light Dinner & Drinks | Live Music & Dancing | Proceeds to Benefit Jensen’s Heart of Gold Foundation Roots Cellars @ 303 S. Collins Street @ 6:00PM; The Tipsy Bookworm @ 115 S. Evers Street @ 8:00PM Cost: $125 per Person Info: 813-967-0481 or www.

Plant City

Happenings February 17

FOCUS Magazine’s Readers’ Choice Awards/ 21st Anniversary Party 5:30PM-10:00PM Live Music | Food & Drinks | Awards | Networking Keel Farms @ 5210 Thonotosassa Rd Cost: Free Event Info: or 813-707-8783

February 18

Reading Takes You PlacesWine Tasting & Silent Auction 6:00PM-8:30PM Benefitting Achieve Plant City | Hors d’oeuvres & Music | Sponsorship Levels Available John R. Trinkle Center @ 1206 N. Park Rd Cost: $75 per Person; Sponsorship Levels Ranging From $300-$5,000 Info: Angelica at 813-752-4010 or angelica@

February 19 Yoga & Beer

12:00PM-1:00PM Yoga Instructor Rebecca Galvin | Beer & Wine The Tipsy Bookworm @ 115 S. Evers St Cost: $10 Info:

Strawberry Classic Cruise-In 3:00PM-6:30PM Classic Cars & Trucks | Food | Vendors Downtown Plant City @ 102 N. Palmer St Cost: Free & Free Car Registration Info: (813) 754-3707

Bingo Takeover- GFWC Junior Woman’s Club 7:00PM Bingo | Wine & Beer | Charcuterie Roots Tap Room @ 101 S. Evers St Cost: Free Bingo Info: 813-756-5400

February 25

Pokémon in Downtown 5:00PM-9:00PM Food Trucks & Vendors | Pokémon Attire Encouraged | McCall Park @ 100 N. Collins St Cost: Free Info: 813-764-9516

February 26

10th Annual Charity Polo Classic 12:00PM-5:00PM Live Polo Match | Biergarten & Cigar Lounge Silent Auction & Raffles Champagne Divot Stomp | Putting Contest Di Polo Tour @ 1003 Cowart Rd Cost: Donations to Various Charities Recommended Info: or 813-334-4696

February 21

Ribbon Cutting CeremonyFazoli’s 4:00PM-5:00PM Grand Opening | Fast, Fresh, Italian Restaurant Ribbon Cutting Fazoli’s @ 238 W. Alexander St Cost: Free Info: 813-754-3707

February 22

The Big Chili CookoffPresented by Marzucco Real Estate 11:00AM-2:00PM Blind Vote on Favorite Chili | Slots Available to Compete | Various Recipes to Try 107 1/2 S Evers St Cost: Free Info: or 813-756-8667 PAGE


March 19

February 24

February 26 February 27 Keel Farms Strawberry Bash 11:00AM-5:00PM Eating Competition | Craft & Food Vendors Kids’ Fun Zone | Wine Release | Pet Friendly Keel & Curley Winery @ 5210 Thonotosassa Rd Cost: Free Parking & Admission Info: 813-752-9100

City Manager Photo Walk

March 01

Trivia Tuesday @ Keel Farms 6:30PM-8:30PM Craft Beer & Cider | Top 3 Teams Win Prizes Teams of 2 or More Keel & Curley Winery @ 5210 Thonotosassa Rd Cost: Free Trivia Info: 813-752-9100

8:00AM Trail Walking | Wear Closed Toe Shoes | Bring a Camera, Hat, Sunscreen, Mosquito Spray, & Water | Pre-Register by March 17 McIntosh Preserve @ 775 E. Knights Griffin Rd Cost: Free Info: Chris Foster @ 813-601-6698 or cfoster@

March 21

March 12

Plant City Garden Club Meeting

7:00PM-8:33PM Performers 13+ Welcome | Sing | Stand Up Dance | Food & Drinks Krazy Kup @ 101 E. J Arden Mays Blvd Cost: Free Open Mic Info: 813-752-1220

9:30AM Coffee | Meet & Greet | Scheduled Speaker: Dale Wallace of Wallace NurseryFlorida Fruit Trees First Methodist Church @ 303 N. Evers St Cost: Free Info: Christy Linke @

Open Mic Night







a Gallery of Plant City


On January 27, the Greater Plant City Chamber of Commerce held its annual 2022 Chamber Gala. The event inducted the 2022 Board of Directors, including 2022 Chairman Irene Castillo. The gala also served as the award presentation for the chamber’s business awards.






f a. Hungry Howie’s was presented with the Community Service Award. b. Pelican’s Snoballs was awarded the Customer Service Award. c. 2021 Chairman of the Board Mike Ardnt passed the chairman’s gavle to 2022 Chair of the Board Irene Castillo. d. Plant City Main Street’s Last Friday in Downtown was named Best Community Event. e. Tooth Caboose was presented the Health and Wellness Award. f. The Boys and Girls Club received Non-Profit of the Year. g. Clothed in Grace was presented the Small Business Award. h. The Downtown Enrichment award was presented to Three Hands Mead Company.





Gallery of Plant City

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m o i. Dykstra Construction was named Business of the Year. j. City of Plant City was named Employer of the Year. k. Larry Jimenez, Sr. was named Entrepreneur of the Year. l. TownePlace Suites by Marriott was presented with the New Business Awards. m. Clay Keel was presented with the Emerging Leader Award. n. Ambassador of the Year and Spirit of the Chamber awards were presented to Kimberly Scarangella Smith. o. CITY Furniture was named the Economic Development award.







a Gallery of Plant City


On Saturday, January 29, locals competed in the Arts Council of Plant City’s annual ChiliFest. Entries were categorized by Mild, Spicy and Novelty, and the community voted for the winner of the People’s Choice Award. Winners received cash prizes and chili tasters had the opportunity to win items in a raffle. Congrats to the winners of the 2022 ChiliFest:

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Mild 1st Lawrence Valdez 2nd Team Recipe by Asia & William Thomas Spicy 1st Brent’s BBQ by Brent Myers 2nd Hillbilly Chili by Corey Canfield & Mark Poppell Novelty 1st Hillbilly Chili by Corey Canfield & Mark Poppell 2nd Umami Smoke by Kevin & Tiffany Ware and Bill Bowers People’s Choice Award Team Scooby’s Outdoor Adventures by Scooby, Carl, Jennifer, & Kaitlin.

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e a. Bill Bowers of Team Umami Smoke served up the team’s Dragon Breath chili. Despite the cold, windy weather, the event had a large crowd ready to eat warm chili. b. Drawdy’s Dance School served as entertainment for the event, performing a variety of dance styles, including gymnastics. c. Team Hillbilly Chili, by Corey Canfield and Mark Poppell, won 2nd Place Novelty and 1st Place in Spicy. d. Asia Thomas served up her and husband William Thomas’ award winning recipe. The couple was named 2nd Place in the Mild category. e. The Robert W. Willaford Train Depot and Museum served as the backdrop to the event. The crowd included chili fans, competitors, city leaders, and members of Drawdy’s Dance School. f. Mary Heysek won the 50/50 raffle, receiving $250 dollars from ChiliFest chair Frank Cummings. Heysek announced to the crowd that Arts Council member Gwen Thomas gave her the 50/50 tickets as a donation to the United Food Bank. Heysek, executive director of the food bank, said the $250 would be going back to the nonprofit. PAGE









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