Make us your home page

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Plant City's Strawberry Festival sees its first wedding

A winning essay resulted in a wedding for Jennifer Faircloth and Jeff Lingerfelt.

Sean C. Ledif | Times Correspondent

A winning essay resulted in a wedding for Jennifer Faircloth and Jeff Lingerfelt.

PLANT CITY — Four years ago, Jennifer Faircloth and Jeff Lingerfelt had their first date at the Florida Strawberry Festival.

"It was just the day my family always went to the festival each year," said Lingerfelt, explaining why he chose to take Faircloth.

On Saturday, surrounded by their families, closest friends and hundreds of fairgoers, Faircloth, 19, and Lingerfelt, 22, became the first couple to be married at the festival.

"It's awesome" to be married at the site of their first date, said the bride.

The Lingerfelts tied the knot at the festival's pavilion, accompanied by a procession of wedding party members, sheriff's deputies and the Durant High School Junior Air Force ROTC honor guard.

The couple was selected from a number of contestants who asked to be married at this year's festival, said Sunny Smith, who coordinates special events.

The contest ran during September, Smith said. Entrants had to submit a photo with a 300- to 500-word essay explaining why they wanted to be married at the festival. The contest was limited to eastern Hillsborough County residents and it had to be a first marriage for both the bride and groom.

Angel Carter, chairperson of the entertainment tent came up with the idea last year.

"I passed it on to have the board look it over and they went for it. They thought it was the greatest thing," Smith said.

In addition to the service, the couple received a free reception, complete with strawberry wedding cake, free dresses for the bride and her bridesmaids, a free room for the wedding night at the Red Rose Inn and Suites in Plant City, as well as free festival admission for up to 50 guests. The festival's official photographer also shot a wedding album for the couple.

While the ceremony was open to all festivalgoers, only invited guests were allowed at the reception.

Jeff's mother, Lorie Lingerfelt, said the free wedding was a nice surprise.

"I didn't even know Jennifer wrote the (contest) letter," she said.

Jennifer's mother, Julie Faircloth, said she was happy about all the freebies that came with the wedding.

"It came out better than we could afford," Julie Faircloth said. "And she found herself a good man."

Smith declined to say how many couples entered the contest. The selection committee was impressed with the fact that the Lingerfelts met at the festival and are both graduates of Plant City High School.

They were also touched by the fact that they wanted to get married last year, but couldn't due to financial problems, Smith said.

Jeff Lingerfelt said he was grateful to the festival for making their day memorable.

"It is such a wonderful blessing," he said.

Plant City's Strawberry Festival sees its first wedding 03/05/09 [Last modified: Thursday, March 5, 2009 3:30am]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. No. 21 USF Bulls roll over Temple to stay undefeated


    TAMPA — They emerged from Raymond James Stadium's southwest tunnel on the 11-month anniversary of their public humiliation at Temple.

    Bulls tailback Darius Tice, who rushes for 117 yards, is elated by his 47-yard run for a touchdown in the second quarter for a 10-0 lead.
  2. Fennelly: USF thrashes Temple to stay unbeaten; too bad not many saw it in person



    No. 21 USF ran its record to 4-0 Thursday night with some payback against Temple, a 43-7 trouncing, no contest, as if anyone cares, at least judging by the paltry crowd at Raymond James Stadium. Where was everybody?

    Bulls cornerback Deatrick Nichols (3) celebrates with teammates after making a defensive play during the first half.
  3. Former Ray Tim Beckham's over being traded, or is he?

    The Heater

    BALTIMORE — As the Rays reunited Thursday with Tim Beckham for the first time since he was dealt July 31 to Baltimore, it became very clear that not everything in assessing the trade is as it appears.

    Tim Beckham, here in action Monday against the Red Sox, has hit .310, with 10 homers and 26 RBIs since going to the Orioles.
  4. Bucs probe how to fix deep-ball chances missed vs. Bears


    TAMPA — It was only minutes after the Bucs had demolished the Bears 29-7 Sunday when quarterback Jameis Winston tried one final time to connect with receiver DeSean Jackson.

    QB Jameis Winston says he’s focused on the deep-ball chances to DeSean Jackson he missed in the opener: “We left a lot out there.”
  5. Rays journal: Ugly first inning dooms Andriese, Rays against Orioles (w/video)

    The Heater

    BALTIMORE — Rays manager Kevin Cash said before Thursday's game that RHP Matt Andriese was among the pitchers who would most benefit from a strong finish to the season.

    Matt Andriese has a tough first: hits to four of first five batters, leading to three runs, the only ones he gives up in six innings