Thursday, April 23, 2015

Fancy Flea

Unique market returning to festival grounds

Shoppers interested in all things repainted, repurposed, and refurbished can find that and more at the Fancy Flea, a flea market that specializes in vintage and shabby chic home décor.

The Fancy Flea will be returning Friday and Saturday from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. at the Florida Strawberry Festival grounds, 289 Ritter St. Admission is $5 per person and parking is free.

“We have lots of shabby chic, architectural salvage, and vintage clothing,” said Lori Powell, founder and owner of the Fancy Flea.

Additional items will include... photo

Fun Festival

Blueberry festival at Keel & Curley Winery offers free U-pick fruit

Fresh blueberries, blueberry shortcake, blueberry pie, blueberry muffins — and just about anything else made with the sweet little fruit, including three kinds of blueberry wine —will be featured at the 8th annual Tampa Bay Blueberry Festival.

The three-day event at the Keel & Curley Winery near Plant City kicks off today and is expected to draw as many as 12,000 by Sunday.

“It’s a fun, family-friendly event that has built a strong following since we started eight years ago, when we drew 2,000 people for a two-day event,” says Joe Keel, president and CEO of Keel & Curley.

“We expanded to a third day last year, because so many people wanted to visit our U-pick areas that the lines were backed up,” he says.

There are other blueberry festivals in Florida, Keel says, but this one has...

Thursday, April 9, 2015

Weather Watch

Hurricane forecast predicts 7 named storms for 2015

Hurricane forecasters at Colorado State University have issued their lowest tropical season forecast ever, predicting just seven named storms to form in the Atlantic Basin in 2015.

The CSU team of William Gray and Phillip Klotzbach released their annual forecast Thursday, saying the 2015 Atlantic hurricane season "will likely have much less activity than the median 1981–2010 season."

Here is a summary of the forecast's precitions:
7 named storms
3 hurricanes
1 major hurricane (category 3 or above)
Those numbers are notably below-average. From 1981–2010, the Atlantic saw a median number of 12 named storms, 6 hurricanes and 2 major hurricanes.

An "at least" moderate El Niño event is part of...

ap image

Wednesday, April 1, 2015

Strawberry Shortage ?

Grower: I’ve never seen anything like it

Plant City Observer

Plant City is known as the Winter Strawberry Capital of the World. But the town isn’t living up to its name now. For the first time in its rich agricultural heritage, all U-picks have been cancelled because there are no more berries left in the fields.

In fact, all farms have sold out of the last of their crop in a record breaking year.

Literally, there are no strawberries left in Plant City.

“I’ve never seen anything like it,” Berry Operations Manager for Make-A-Wish Farms, Al Gone, said. “It’s been a blessing since we’ve had a couple of hard years here.”

Florida farms have had to...

Sunday, March 29, 2015

Easter Egg-stravaganza

Plant City’s annual Easter egg hunt April 4

The Easter Bunny is planning to make his annual visit April 4 to Otis M. Andrews Sports Complex.

Children ages 3 to 11 are invited to participate in the city’s 26th annual City Wide Easter Egg Hunt, starting at 10 a.m. The sports complex at 2402 E. Cherry St. will have 10,000 plastic eggs stuffed with candy or other goodies such as gift certificates for children to find.

About 1,000 kids are expected at the egg hunt organized by the city Recreation and Parks Department.

“This is our longest-running event,” said Tim Hanlon, the department’s assistant program manager.

The hunt will start with a show by A-1 Magic, Hanlon said.

Children hunt for eggs in age groups, 3-4, 5-6, 7-8, and 9-11. Each hunting area will have...

Sunday, March 22, 2015

Cornerstone Center

Historic former Plant City church building faces uncertain future

A decade ago, a group that wanted to save the former home of First Baptist Church was brimming with optimism.

Members of the nonprofit raised money and spent countless hours working to restore the building where thousands of Baptists worshiped for seven decades.

Today the renamed Cornerstone Center sits vacant, the paint on its sign out front peeling and cracking.

Cornerstone Chapel Inc., the nonprofit that took over the downtown landmark in 2002, envisioned the former church as a special events center. And a smattering of weddings, funerals and even a community theater performance were held there in the first years after the group took ownership.

But the cost to extensively renovate the building and bring it up to modern codes was...

photo via flickr
Cornerstone Center website

Downtown Decision?

Sale of downtown Plant City post office pondered

A top postal official is reviewing the potential sale of the downtown post office, which was shuttered in June 2013.

The Postal Service’s southern area vice president has to sign off on the sale of the building at 301 W. Reynolds St. A decision is expected... photo

Thursday, March 19, 2015

Picking Produce

U-pick field open Saturday to benefit 4-H

Strawberry farmer Carl Grooms will open his fields for U-pick from 8:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday to benefit students in 4-H.

The eighth annual strawberry U-pick event will be at Fancy Farms’ Rice Road entrance, off County Line Road. Berries will be available for picking for 50 cents a quart with no limit.

Containers will be provided.

Money raised by the fundraiser will...

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Festival Finishes

Florida Strawberry Festival goes out in a big way

Sunday’s traffic on Interstate 4 was horrendous, vendors ran out of shortcake and Reba sold out 20 minutes before show time at the Florida Strawberry Festival.

It was just the kind of a day the festival needed to make up for a near washout earlier in its 11-day run.

“We ran out of shortcake on Sunday. That’s how packed it was. That was a first,” festival General Manager Paul Davis said.

Sunny weather on Saturday and Sunday helped draw big crowds, as did the final headline entertainer, Reba. Not a single seat in the 12,000-seat stadium was available by her 7:30 p.m. Sunday show time.

Total attendance for all 11 days was...

Carnivore Contest

Cooks can win cash and trophies at March 28 chili cook-off

So you think your chili is the best around?

On March 28, you’ll have the chance to prove it.

The Arts Council of Plant City will hold a chili competition from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. at the Robert W. Willaford Railroad Museum at the historic downtown train depot, 102 N. Palmer St. Spectators can sample the chili creations as well as chocolate from nearby Neumeister’s Candy Shoppe for $5.

Organizers of the event, Promoting the Culinary Arts through Chili and Chocolate, are accepting entry forms through March 18.

The entry fee is $15 and there’s more than bragging rights at stake; cash prizes and trophies will be awarded for the best chili in mild, spicy and novelty categories.

A panel of judges will decide on the winners and there will also be a...