Kelsey Fry has a lot of memories to cherish as her reign as Florida Strawberry Festival queen draws to a close.
She danced on stage with country singer Neal McCoy during his festival concert. She rode in parades. A video of she and members of her court doing the Harlem Shake had thousands of YouTube views.
But she likes to remember some of the more personal moments, such as visiting a little girl last summer who was undergoing cancer treatments at Tampa General Hospital.
“It was just so nice to be able to lift her spirits and cheer her up,” Fry said. “She got to wear my crown and she was so thrilled. It uplifted all of us.”
On Saturday, Fry will crown a new queen. She has mixed emotions as she and her court, first maid Ericka Lott, Madison Astin, Maddy Keene and Jamee Townsend, take their last bow.
She’s sad that her year is over but happy for what she calls, “an awesome experience.”
“It’s been an amazing year. We’ve done so much and I’ve grown so close to the other members of the court,” said Fry, daughter of Glenn and Kendra Harrell.
As festival queen, she presided over contests and helped introduce headline acts. The queens represent not just the festival, but the strawberry industry and Plant City through out the year.
Festival General Manager Paul Davis said Fry and her court have been great ambassadors.
“Kelsey is an absolute joy to be around. They sure got it right” when she was selected queen, Davis said.
Fry, 18, moved to Plant City when she was in the eighth grade. She tried for festival queen twice: In 2012 she was named a top 10 finalists, and in 2013 the judges selected her queen.
The 2013 Plant City High School graduate is attending the University of West Florida in Pensacola on a swimming scholarship. She said her year as queen was like on-the-job experience for her field of study, public relations.
While Fry enjoyed the spotlight, she doesn’t anticipate ever entering another beauty pageant.
“I’m done. It would be impossible to top the experiences I had this year, to represent my town,” she said. “This has been a once in a lifetime experience.”