The new Strawberry Queen and her Court were invited to the unveiling of the updated 2021 Florida Strawberry Festival Queen’s exhibit, which is changed each year to fit the festival’s theme and highlight the new court.
Every year, the new Florida Strawberry Festival Queen and Court are invited to a special reveal of the Queen’s Exhibit at the festival grounds.
Queen McKenna Jordan, First Maid Avery Surrency and court members KellieAnne Kirkland, Brynne Murphy and Kate Turner were joined by their family and leaders from the Florida Strawberry Festival for the reveal. The exhibit in Neighborhood Village is run by sisters Marsha Passmore and Dodie White, who update it every year to fit the festival’s theme and the new Queen and Court.
This year’s theme, “All Aboard,” was perfectly represented by donations from the Robert Willaford Railroad Museum, the East Hillsborough Historical Society and the Plant City Photo Archives & History Center. Pictures of the new Queen and Court in conductor’s hats as well as images from their pageant adorn one wall, interspersed among images from courts through the decades.
Two massive rows of plaques of former Queens and Courts make up the majority of the exhibit and a red carpet outlines a path through the historic experience. The blue dress Jordan wore the night she received the crown greets guests as they walk through the front doors of Neighborhood Village. On the other end of the exhibit is the winning dress of Catherine Fletcher, who was crowned Strawberry Queen in 1940. The exhibit always features the current queen and a royal from yesteryear.
Passmore and White took a moment to thank the girls for coming and explained the history of Fletcher, who was a foundation of the community. As their families walked along the photos many shared memories of the faces smiling down at them from the courts of the past.
Festival Chair Dub McGinnes took a moment after many pictures had been snapped and long conversations had floated back and forth between those gathered to thank Passmore and White for the hard work they put into making the exhibit a fresh and informative experience year after year for attendees of the festival.
The exhibit is frequently stated as being some attendees’ favorite part of the festival and he said a large part of its continued success lies in the passion Passmore and White have for preserving this important part of the festival’s history.
Before the girls left, the sisters presented them with gifts from some of their favorite local businesses, including a set of bedazzled red masks they joked would make sure future visitors would be able to peg exactly when Jordan and her Court reigned.