By Kathy L. Collins

Since 2004, the Plant City Photo Archives and History Center (Photo Archives) has presented the Heritage Award. Typically, the award is presented to an individual for efforts in the preservation of history and heritage of greater Plant City. This year, the Photo Archives selected an organization, the Florida Strawberry Festival Association, to receive the award.

At the annual banquet held last month, Gilbert Gott, the executive director of the Photo Archives explained, “We see the Florida Strawberry Festival’s significance with regard to the history and heritage of the community in three ways. First, it has been and continues to be a part of our history. Secondly, it has been a catalyst to many other events that have become part of Plant City’s history. Thirdly, it has recorded the history of the community through its own publications and through its collection of articles and photographs pertaining to both the festival itself and to the community.”

The Florida Strawberry Festival Association was founded in 1930. It has continuously represented and promoted greater Plant City, with the exception of the years during World War II, with its annual festival. The continuous nature of the event, the examples of numerous events and organizations that have been inspired by the festival, and the recording of history through its publications and programs are what led the Photo Archives to select the Florida Strawberry Festival Association for this prestigious award.

Gott stated, “The chronicling of our history coupled with the preservation of our history by collecting and preserving these documents, has been a great service for our community. This preservation of history and heritage is what every community needs in order to look back and see where we came from and who we are.” Gott added, “You can go anywhere in America and find someone that has been to or knows something about the Florida Strawberry Festival, and they know something about a little city known as Plant City and that the city has a history.”

The Photo Archives is located at 106 S. Evers St. in downtown Plant City. For more information, call 754-1578 or visit

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