The Florida Strawberry Festival is underway in Plant City, Florida, and runs until March 11, 2021. Festival Ambassador Rae Rhoades Has All The Deets!
Today With Rae
I interviewed Alex Rae Rhoades, an Educator, Blogger, and Plant City native who is one of the 2021 Florida Strawberry Festival’s Ambassadors this year.
Tampa Bay knows her as Rae and if you follow her on Instagram @todaywithrae_ then you know she represents everything Plant City! There is no better person to be an Ambassador for Plant City’s biggest event of the year!
Rae, Tell us a little about you!
I've lived in Plant City all my life except for my time at the University of Florida and a year abroad. My involvement in Plant City small-town traditions started at high school. I would volunteer at the East Hillsborough Strawberry Shortcake Stand, located right beside the Expo Hall, at the Florida Strawberry Festival.
I later joined the GFWC Plant City Junior Woman's Club, where I later served as President, 2019, Little Miss Plant City Chaperone, 2017 - 2020, and Co-Chaired the Florida Strawberry Baby Parade, 2019.
I love being from the Plant City community because of the pride we have for our community and the close-knit relationships. I promote living local because I'm supporting someone's dream and my money goes straight back into my community.
For anyone new to the Florida Strawberry Festival, can you give us a quick rundown of what the festival entails?
Everyone should come out to the Florida Strawberry Festival!
Each year I learned something new! This year, I learned that this was the last festival in the nation before lockdowns happened and is the first opening back up.
That means a majority of the vendors and performers have been living off what they made last year and this will be their first paycheck in over a year.
The festival is not only for the vendors and entertainers, last year there were over a million dollars given to FFA and 4H students. These students raise steers and pigs that are sold at the Florida Strawberry Festival.
At the festival, you can expect to see a love and celebration for our strawberries and farmers! We are the Winter Strawberry Capital of the World!
There are vendors of all kinds, entertains every day, the most amazing fair food (check out @igersplantcity on where to eat), a midway of rides, livestock, our very own Festival Royalty, and some of the nicest people you will come across.
How will the Strawberry Festival be different this year during the pandemic?
One big difference is there will be no headliner entertainers this year, so no concerts.
You will notice that Festival staff will be wearing masks and encouraging others to keep their masks on.
There was over 600k spent on COVID-19 precautions. There are over 100 mobile hand sanitizers and handwashing stations throughout the festival grounds. The bathrooms are now handsfree and even this mister that visitors can walkthrough.
How did you become an Ambassador for the Strawberry Festival?
I had seen Ambassadors at the festival before, they are the folks walking around with a red vest, a red visor, and a clipboard. They know all things Florida Strawberry Festival!
I kept asking how to be one until it happened. I now serve are 3 teams, so that is day 5,6, and 9 of the festival, and I'll hold that spot every year.
So people have been volunteering for over 25 years on the same festival day each year! This will be my 3rd year as an Ambassador, my 2nd year at an information booth, and my first year on the tram.
What is the role of the Ambassadors and what will be your role during the festival?
Florida Strawberry Ambassadors know all things Florida Strawberry Festival related! They are the people you want to meet when you get to the festival.
They will tell you where to eat, where the nearest restroom is, what time Dennis Lee or Kazual perform, what you need to see before you go home, and even give you a sticker!
Ambassadors want you to have the best experience while you're visiting the Florida Strawberry Festival.
As an Ambassador, I walk the Festival grounds for 3 hours helping anyone and everyone. I have the best time doing it!
Will we see you on the festival grounds?
Yes! Come see me March 8th - March 14th! I will be there! Don't be a stranger, I live to give Festival tours!
One of Florida’s Largest Events of the Year
Be sure to get out to the Florida Strawberry Festival this year. In addition to fantastic agriculture displays and demonstrations, it’s one of the biggest foodie events in Tampa Bay. It’s all the entertainment you’re craving not to mention all the amusement rides you’ll find at fair.
Check out the official website of the Florida Strawberry Festival for special days and discounts.
It’s a safe, open-air affair and you get to support Florida’s farmers and small businesses!