The past few weekends have seen several events in downtown Plant City including the Car Show and the Bike Show.
After months of being disbanded due to the ongoing pandemic, events are beginning to trickle back into downtown Plant City.
Several major events have already been revised to continue social distancing and abide by the mask mandate. The Greater Plant City Chamber of Commerce hosted one of the first major events in downtown on Sept. 19 when it had classic and unique vehicles roll into town for the long-awaited Strawberry Classic Cruise-In.
Just this past weekend, the parking lot was full of motorcycles as bikers from all over the state rode in for the much-loved Bike Fest. The event will return Dec. 5.
“When March hit and shut down events, we turned our focus toward advocacy and working very closely with local, state and federal organizations to act as a bridge for our businesses,” Christine Miller, chamber president, said. “It has never been more important than now to help businesses. So that has been our focus, we are standing here fighting for their best interests.”
While many businesses were sending employees home due to the pandemic, the chamber staff buckled down and got busier than ever. It partnered with the City of Plant City, Plant City Main Street and the Plant City EDC to birth the “I Support Local” campaign, it revamped the Candidate Forum into a virtual experience for all local voters and it also redid its website and focused its social media toward keeping businesses informed of all the changing rules, regulations and assistance available.
Other organizations are bringing back their downtown events as well. Main Street has hosted some events, including the Harry Potter Birthday Celebration, and it is planning to host a Halloween-themed Last Friday in Downtown event on Oct. 30. The Garden Fest drew several vendors two weeks ago to downtown, as did Jensen’s Paint for a Cure.
At the chamber, safety was key to being ready to resume its visible outdoor events. Behind closed doors, however, the organization has been working nonstop since the moment the pandemic swept into town.
Though many things can be handled safely, the chamber is not yet throwing the door wide open and picking up precisely where it left off seven months ago. Everything is on an event-by-event basis.
Networking luncheons are back, though they have been modified to accommodate social distancing. Lunches are also boxed in advance and distributed rather than being served buffet-style to limit exposure to the food.
Most of the chamber’s outdoor events, however, are on the table. Sophia Hyde, community relations manager, said they feel comfortable hosting outdoor events as they easily accommodate people while still maintaining social distancing.
Of course, even outdoor events look a little different. There are signs that remind attendees to wear a mask and stay away from parties they did not arrive with. Vendors at the events have to tape down a line with markers for every six feet. They must also have hand sanitizer available for those who stop at their booths.
The chamber’s next event is its Networking Luncheon, which will be held at 11:30 a.m. this morning at the Arthur Boring Civic Center at the Florida Strawberry Festival Grounds. This lunch is the Plant City Non-Profit Showcase and is sponsored by the Florida Strawberry Festival. It will feature 20 local nonprofits and will have a boxed lunch available for those who attend. You can register at PlantCity.org and tickets are $25 for members and $30 for non-members.