Beth Smedley’s mixed media piece was the recipient of the Strawberry Theme Award (right).

The 2024 Florida Strawberry Festival Fine Arts Show, presented by the East Hillsborough Art Guild (EHAG), showcases the artwork of diverse and talented artists young and old from all over the Tampa Bay area. The show is open to the public during the annual Florida Strawberry Festival in Plant City.

The judges for the 2024 show are Sherry Ross and John Aho, both of whom are artists and art educators. Ross is the President of the Lakeland Arts Association. They are both adjudicators for the AP Arts and Design, Drawing and 3D Art for high school.

Ross and Aho stated that this year’s show was very impressive.

For determining the Adult Best of Show winner, Ross said, “We went through all of the entries and judged them. If they fell within number one for their category, they went into the Best of Show pool.” Ross added, “There were four really strong contenders.”

Ross and Aho looked carefully at each piece from a technical and artistic standpoint. When they did this, it brought the contenders down to two.

Adult Best of Show was ultimately awarded to Alan Metzger of Wesley Chapel for his oil painting of a cow, about which Aho said, “The painting shows the personality of the subject. He has a quirky turn of the head.”

The winner of Youth Best of Show was Reese Veerkamp of St. Petersburg. Ross and Aho said of the students’ works, “There is real diversity in the show. We appreciated all of the different media. We had a hard time judging the entries.”

The Strawberry Theme Award went to Beth Smedley of Valrico for her mixed media piece. Ross said, “The artist’s competence is shown in the use of putting the different media together. I was super impressed. The color choice worked out well.”

In addition to the pieces judged by Ross and Aho, there were 12 Business Leader Choice Awards, including Shirin Moghadasi’s acrylic piece selected by the Osprey Observer. There were also two ‘In Honor of’ Awards.

Overall, the 2024 Florida Strawberry Festival Fine Arts Show was a great success.

For more information on the show and to get information on EHAG, please visit

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