Greeting visitors to the 2013 Florida Strawberry Festival Media Party at the Evelyn and Batista Madonia Agricultural Center on Saturday, Feb. 23, were this year's Florida Strawberry Festival Queen, Kelsey Fry, and her court.
The 17-year-old Fry, a senior at Plant City High School, was raised in Brandon, where she attended Yates Elementary School. In the eighth grade, she moved with her family to Plant City, where she attended Tomlin Middle School.
Her job now, as the queen, is to support the mission of the Florida Strawberry Festival, which in 2013 is celebrating its 78th year, having been in hiatus for six years during the time period of World War II.
"I get to represent Plant City and I get to be a positive role model for all the young kids who look up to the Florida Strawberry Queen, because I know I certainly did," Fry said.
- See Plant City Gears Up for 2013 Florida Strawberry Festival
This year's festival theme, "Our Masterpiece of Fun," exemplifies the spirit and tone of the annual event, according to Ericka Lott, 17, a Plant City High School junior, who this year is the maid, or runner-up in the strawberry queen contest.
Her father, Rick Lott, serves on the Plant City Commission and was a former mayor of the town.
"I was always the tomboy," Lott said, noting that she grew up with four brothers. But when she became a calendar girl at Plant City High, her pageant days began.
As for the Florida Strawberry Festival?
"There's great food and rides and enteratinment," Lott said. "My favorite is the entertainment. I really look forward to Blake Shelton this year."
Rounding out the court are Maddy Keene, 17, a Plant City High junior; Madison Astin, 18, a senior at Durant High in Plant City; and Jamee Townsend, 17, a senior at Strawberry Crest High School in Dover.
"I really just love the people, everybody is just so friendly and nice and they'll give you the shirts off their backs," Keene said about the festival's draw.
"All year the farmers work so hard to provide our fruits and vegetables, finally, with the festival, we're able to celebrate the harvest," Astin said.
Added Townsend: "I love the sense of communitiy we have in Plant City and I think the festival is amazing."