The Best of Show winner for this year’s Florida Strawberry Festival Fine Arts Show is Shaerlyn Unwin of North Port for her scratchboard piece known as “Reservations.” The Best of Show in the Youth Division went to Peyton Rice of Apollo Beach for “Berry Blast.”

The 2023 Florida Strawberry Festival Fine Arts Show, presented by the East Hillsborough Art Guild (EHAG), showcased the artwork of talented artists from all over the Tampa Bay region. The show was open to the public during the annual Strawberry Festival in Plant City.

The judges for this year’s show were Sherry Ross and John Aho. Ross is an art educator and curator of art shows, and Aho is an experienced visual art teacher. Aho also worked as a photographer for the Tampa Tribune.

The Adult Best of Show was awarded to Shaeryl Unwin of North Port for her professional-graphics piece known as Reservations.

The judges said of Unwin’s piece, “Reservations is a masterwork skill, composition and subject. The subtle shading of the skin tone reminded us of a hand-printed photo on pearl fiber paper. The subtle tones achieved created the illusion of an exquisitely done black-and-white photographic portrait. Had it been photo, it was still a strong contender, but when we realized it was a scratchboard piece, the elevation of an oft-overlooked medium with such superb handling of the delicate tonal range, it became an early front runner.”

The winner of the Youth Best of Show went to Peyton Rice from Apollo Beach for the piece called Berry Blast. The Youth Best of Show award and all of the youth entries are sponsored exclusively by Jarret Scott Ford of Plant City.

The Strawberry Theme Award was presented to Beth Smedley of Valrico for her mixed-media piece called 5 Strawberries.

Ross and Aho said of the show, “The caliber of artwork was outstanding and there were a wide variety of media on display. We looked for the traditional elements of art: composition, technical skill, originality and artist voice. We were looking for artwork with strong skills but also communicated and engaged with the viewer in a distinct and personal way, reflective of the artist’s intention.”

Karen Crumley, chair of the art show, said, “I am pleased that the quality of the art has been increasing over the years. We had a great representation of ages as well as submissions from amateur and professional artists. The youth art just keeps getting better and better each year.”

For more information on this year’s show and to get information on EHAG, please visit

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