Events lead up to Strawberry Festival
Florida Strawberry Festival organizers are prepping for a week of activities ahead of next month's festival.
First up is the invitation-only festival ball on Saturday, one of Plant City's premier soirees. The black-tie-optional event at the Madonia Agricultural Center starts with hors d'oeuvres at 7 p.m. followed by dinner at 8 with catering by Tampa-based Catering by the Family. There's an open bar.
Then, Thursday at noon the festival fashion show commences with notable locals modeling outfits from Plant City retailers. Among those to strut the catwalk will be Mayor Michael Sparkman, Vice Mayor Mary Mathis and Jana Butler of the South Florida Baptist Hospital Foundation. Lunch is by Fred's Southern Kitchen. This event is invitation-only as well.
On Jan. 26, the 2013 Strawberry Festival Queen will be crowned at the conclusion of the annual pageant. It will start a 6 p.m. at the Madonia Center. Admission is $15, and officials encourage folks to arrive early.
Festival organizers, meanwhile, have rounded out their entertainment lineup with a last-minute addition. Michaela Paige, a 17-year-old singer from NBC's The Voice, has been tapped to open for Blake Shelton at 7:30 p.m. March 10, the final night of the 10-day festival. Tickets are available at the gate at 2209 W Oak Ave., at flstrawberryfestival.com or by calling (813) 754-1996.
Mendonsa project is halfway done
The Mendonsa Road reconstruction project has reached the halfway point.
City officials say the $1.3 million project could be completed in about three months. For now, Verizon is relocating utility cables. That work is expected to last until Jan. 25. Construction on the half-mile road between Hunter and Alexander streets was begun in mid September to install new drainage and curbs and to replace the broken asphalt surface.
Help say goodbye to National Guard
Plant City's National Guard unit is prepping for deployment next month to Qatar.
Of the 475 guardsmen in the 116th Field Artillery Unit, 3rd Battalion, 170 are stationed in Plant City. The battalion learned recently it will be deployed for nine months.
A departure ceremony is set for Feb. 21 at 4 p.m. at the Highlands County Fair Association Convention Center, 781 Magnolia Ave., in Sebring. On Feb. 23 at 6:30 a.m., the unit will leave Plant City to head to a mobilization site. The city's chamber of commerce is asking folks to line the departure route — Airport Road to Turkey Creek Road to U.S. 92 to Branch Forbes Road to I-4 — to wave goodbye to the troops.
AME Church to celebrate 120 years
On Feb. 10 at 9:30 a.m. the Allen Chapel AME Church, 1109 E Laura St., will hold a Founders Day Celebration to mark the church's 120th anniversary. Pastor Ricky Polk will preside over the celebration. Arrangements are being made for a speaker.
Included will be a concert on Feb. 9 at 7 p.m. featuring the Women of Grace choral group. A $10 donation is requested at the door. Tickets are also available by calling (813) 704-5747. The Pocket Change Beauty Supply Store at 1408 E Baker St. also has tickets. Call (813) 704-9050.