Grand Parade, Strawberry Youth Parade merging for 2021
The 2021 Florida Strawberry Festival Grand Parade is getting even bigger now that the Strawberry Youth Parade is merging with it.
The festival announced the merger last week and added that it will begin at 1 p.m. March 8. The route will take the parade past the festival grounds around 2 p.m.
“The top priority for the Strawberry Youth Parade is to call attention to the youngsters in our community,” Florida Strawberry Festival President Paul Davis said in a press release. “Pat Pogue has devoted her life to supporting the youth in our area and her contributions to the Strawberry Youth Parade have not gone unnoticed. On behalf of the festival Board of Directors and staff, we would like to thank her for her many years of service to this time-honored event.”
Florida Strawberry Festival adds shortcake vendors
The Florida Strawberry Festival announced two new strawberry shortcake vendors will be on the grounds for this year’s event.
Parkesdale Express and Berry Amaz’n, LLC, will replace St. Clement Catholic Church Make-Your-Own Strawberry Shortcake and East Hillsborough Historical Society Shortcake after both vendors opted out of this year’s festival.
“We are honored to have Parkesdale Express and Berry Amaz’n serving shortcake to our guests at the upcoming festival,” Florida Strawberry Festival President Paul Davis said in a press release. “Both businesses have a well-known history of providing some of the most delicious shortcake and strawberry desserts that are sure to please.”
Parkesdale Express will be easy for returning attendees to find: it will be set up in the Parke Exhibit Building right next to the Parkesdale Farms and Parkesdale Greenhouse booths. Though Parkesdale is no stranger to the festival or to selling its own strawberry shortcakes, this is the first time the market will make and sell its shortcakes at the festival.
“We are very excited to offer our world-famous strawberry shortcake for the first time at the festival,” Parkesdale Farms Director of Finance and Business Development Kristen Hitchcock said in a press release. “The strawberries will be freshly picked and sliced each morning from the farm, and the cake will be the same yummy goodness you get at the Parkesdale Market every year.”
Berry Amaz’n, LLC will set up northeast of the Parke Exhibit Building near the Pioneer Village. This booth is run by Cindy Griffin, a 29-year veteran of the festival who also owns and operates Mavric’s Chocolate Barn and the Chocolate Strawberry Express on the grounds. Griffin also provides the strawberries for both of the festival’s strawberry stemming contests. Berry Amaz’n, LLC will serve traditional strawberry shortcakes and a new creation called the Strawberry Brownie Delight.
“The Florida Strawberry Festival is proud to continue the tradition of having the best shortcake
available,” Griffin said in a press release. “It’s ‘All Aboard’ for the 2021 Festival!”
The 2021 festival begins March 4 and runs through March 14. Visit flstrawberryfestival.cm for more information.
Optimist oratorical contest winners
The Plant City Optimist Club announced the results of its latest annual Oratorical Contest, held Monday at the Sadye Gibbs Martin Community Center.
Two local students, Marley Mueller and Emma Stephens, competed in front of nearly 30 audience members. Their task was to present an oration of four to five minutes on the topic of this year’s theme, “Healing the World with Optimism.” The contest was judged by members of the Plant City Toastmasters Club.
Mueller placed first in the contest and Stephens was named runner-up. They will now advance from the Club level of competition to the North Florida District’s Southwest Regional Contest for the Tampa Bay area, which will be held April 17.
“We are proud of these young people who are improving their public speaking skills which will
benefit them in college and beyond,” Optimist Club President Jeff Ogden said in a press release.
Winners at the regional level will advance to the North Florida District Finals in Jacksonville on April 24 and compete there for scholarships of $2,500 for first place, $1,500 for second place and $1,000 for third place. Nine Plant City-area students have won the district championship since 2001 and most recently in 2017.
The district champion will be able to compete in the sixth annual World Championships in St. Louis, MO from July 21-23. A Plant City-area student competed in each of the first two World Championships.