In a small town just in between Tampa and Orlando resides Plant City. Plant City is a small, yet powerful town, known for their strawberries. In fact, it is the winter strawberry capital of the world. How is this possible? Well, the soil is rich, the farm land is vast and the weather is perfect. You see, it doesn’t get too hot or too cold in Plant City during the winter / harvesting months (Thanksgiving to Easter). When a cold front does come through, the farmers will turn on their water sprinklers, just before the front hits. This is to create a frozen shell around the berries. The shell protects the berries from frostbite and it makes it a little more sweeter.
How do I know all of this? I competed in the hometown scholarship pageant, Strawberry Queen. Strawberry Queen can be compared to Miss America. Typically, the pageant takes place each year during the first or second weekend in Feb. In order to compete in the Strawberry Queen pageant, you must live in Plant City limits, are between the ages of 16 and 20 and have good academic standing. The Queen and her court (4 other gals) represent the town throughout the year but most importantly during the Strawberry Festival season. For the most part, any gal who lives in Plant City waits anxilsuly for her chance to compete for Strawberry Queen.
The phases of competition include: personal interview, 30 second on-stage commercial / public speaking, swimsuit (it has changed to casual wear) and evening gown. After those phases are complete the judges narrow down the girls to a top 10. The top 10 is then whisked back to a private, sound proof room. Each girl is pulled to answer the same onstage question. Only the audience knows the onstage question. The question is typically about Plant City or the festival.
Although, I did not become Strawberry Queen, I did make it to the top 10. I prepared and prepared for this pageant for about a year. My preparations included an interview prep and onstage question prep as these were the most nerve wrecking phases. My coach also helped me with the commercial / public speaking phases and walking on stage. Competing in the pageant really gave me boost to the real world interviewing and confidence with public speaking. I can honestly say that preparing for Strawberry Queen helped me with my interviewing skills and public speaking skills.
Check out the photos below from the competition!
To learn more about the Strawberry Festival visit: Website
To learn more about the pageant: Website
*Photo on the left was taken after the 30 second commercial / public speaking phase.
*Photo on the right was taken during the onstage question.