Wednesday, June 20, 2018
News Roundup

New grandstand excites Strawberry Festival fans

The Florida Strawberry Festival recently unveiled its new grandstand seating, marking the first time in the festival’s history its headline acts will perform in a venue designed for concerts.

Since the festival began hosting headline performers with Dale Evans in 1972, concerts were held on the grounds of the old William Schneider Memorial Stadium. The stadium was once home to Plant City High School’s football team, its backless concrete bleachers designed for football, not music.

The steep bleachers were uncomfortable and dangerous, Paul Davis, the festival president said. For years, the Florida Strawberry Festival Board knew it would have to upgrade the seating or lose entertainers and concert goers to places like Orlando and Lakeland. It was only a question of when.

Rascal Flatts closed the 2017 Florida Strawberry Festival with a sold out show on a Sunday night. The following Friday, the stadium came down to make way for the new seating.

"Our whole intention is to improve the experience of the festival. We’ve taken the festival one step further," Sandee Sytsma, board chairperson, said. "It’s hard for us to go against history and go against what we know as being the festival, but it’s our job to make it better all the time and look for ways to improve. We don’t take that lightly."

The new seating comes with a number of upgrades aside from backed seats. Every aspect of the design and construction was meticulously planned for the optimum experience, Davis said. The new seating wraps around the Wish Farms Soundstage like an amphitheater, the furthest seat from the stage is now 12-feet closer than the old stadium’s nearest seat.

"It’s awesome. You see it in renditions and all this stuff, but to actually see it completed like this is just fabulous," said festival board member Mike Sparkman. "There’s been so much comment from everybody that’s driven by here and sees it, the red fits in with our strawberry theme and the view is excellent."

The Florida Strawberry Festival kicks off on March 1 and runs through March 11. There will be 22 paid concerts with 24 top performers including Jerry Lee Lewis (March 2), Reba McEntire (March 4), Josh Turner (March 5), Earth, Wind & Fire (March 9), Anthony Hamilton/Kenny "Babyface" Edmonds (March 10) and Brad Paisley (March 11).

Contact Daniel Figueroa at [email protected]

Comments
Rays’ Kevin Kiermaier returns, with energy to spare

Rays’ Kevin Kiermaier returns, with energy to spare

HOUSTON — Energy.That's what Kevin Kiermaier said he felt he'd provide most in rejoining the Rays Tuesday against the Astros after missing two-plus months recovering from thumb surgery."I like to think I bring energy on both sides of the ball, ...
Updated: 2 hours ago
Rays journal: Blake Snell outlasts Justin Verlander in 2-1 win

Rays journal: Blake Snell outlasts Justin Verlander in 2-1 win

HOUSTON — The starting pitcher walked seven over seven otherwise solid innings Tuesday. That seemed weird enough for the Rays. Then the next pitcher they brought in was the one who started Monday's game. Even more bizarre.And then there was thi...
Updated: 2 hours ago
As Tesla races to meet Model 3 deadline, factory pressures and suspicions grow

As Tesla races to meet Model 3 deadline, factory pressures and suspicions grow

Tesla chief Elon Musk said last week that the company’s layoffs of 9 percent of its workforce wouldn’t affect production as the all-electric automaker races to build thousands of new Model 3 sedans a week.But documents the company filed days later wi...
Updated: 6 hours ago
Norris Trophy could be good consolation for Lightning’s Victor Hedman

Norris Trophy could be good consolation for Lightning’s Victor Hedman

Victor Hedman is talking from a hotel room in Las Vegas and admits he's a little jet-lagged."Actually, very jet-lagged," Hedman says.That's what happens when you take a flight from Sweden to the party capital of the world.But he knows exactly what he...
Updated: 6 hours ago

Hillsborough school district will pursue two kinds of local taxes

TAMPA — Hillsborough County School District officials took an important step Tuesday toward asking the voters to pay higher taxes for schools that, they say, are not getting enough money from the state.The board voted 5-0 to submit a tax referendum r...
Updated: 7 hours ago
New Port Richey man faces sexual battery charge

New Port Richey man faces sexual battery charge

NEW PORT RICHEY — A 33-year-old man was arrested Monday on a charge of sexual battery, accused of assaulting a 10-year-old girl.Jonathan Wells was booked into the Pasco County jail, where he was being held Tuesday without bail.The assault took place ...
Updated: 8 hours ago

House bill would detain families — togetherThe Republican House compromise bill on immigration would end the family separation issue at the border — but Democrats won’t support it. The bill mandates that the Department of Homeland Security hold any a...
Updated: 8 hours ago

WashingtonSenate approves $716B for 2019 military budgetThe U.S. Senate on Monday voted to give the military $716 billion for 2019, approving one of the biggest defense budgets in modern American history despite concerns from some economists and lawm...
Updated: 8 hours ago
For starters: Rays at Astros, with Kiermaier back and an ace-high matchup

For starters: Rays at Astros, with Kiermaier back and an ace-high matchup

UPDATE, 6:45: Cash said Smith will continue to play a lot, getting time in LF and RF, meaning something of a rotation system for rookie Johnny Field and veteran Carlos Gomez.UPDATE, 4:49: Kiermaier is batting leadoff and playing center as expected, w...
Updated: 9 hours ago
Romano: A Tampa Bay ‘superstar’ caught in the crosshairs of Trump’s border policy

Romano: A Tampa Bay ‘superstar’ caught in the crosshairs of Trump’s border policy

At this moment, she is Tampa Bay’s most influential export. A smart, accomplished and powerful attorney making life-altering decisions on an international stage.But what of tomorrow? And the day after?When the story of President Donald Trump’s border...
Updated: 9 hours ago