Sherri Ferguson, President and CEO of Portland’s Chamber of Commerce appeared at the May 15 meeting of the city council to present trophies to the Strawberry Festival Parade winners.
She began by thanking the estimated 100 volunteers who worked tirelessly to bring off the successful May 12th-13th festival, adding, “Designing and building these floats took a lot of work, time, and energy. Without them, we would not have a parade. It would just be me on a golf cart.”
Her first public recognition was for the Grand Marshal float. “Just on a whim, I called an old friend, Tate DeGuira, with Create Energy, and asked if his team would build this float,” Ferguson said. “It’s the first time we’ve ever had a float for the Grand Marshal.” She asked DeGuira to come forward to receive a plaque of thanks from the Chamber.
Riding on the new float was Grand Marshal Valerie Suddarth, along with Matthew Maynard from Portland High School, Christian Hargis from Portland East Middle School, Caiden Thurman, Portland West Middle School, and Madison Daughtry, Portland Gateview Elementary School — all “Berry Special Friends” chosen to accompany the Grand Marshal.
Ferguson presented the Best Vehicle Award, which went to Food Warming Equipment, and then awarded the trophy for the Best Antique Entry, given to Shackle Island Truck and Tractors.
Portland Middle School was the winner for Best Use of Theme, and the Best Church Float went to Fountain Head Baptist Church. Ferguson awarded Butt Plumbing with the Small Business Trophy, and ten members of Hands of Hope were on hand at the council meeting to receive the trophy for the Best Float by a Non-Profit.
The Portland Chamber Staff Pick was The Farmers Bank, with Drew Jennings accepting the trophy on the bank’s behalf.
S.R. Smith took third place in the Best Float competition, and Dorman Products came in second. The first-place winner for Best Float, as well as the People’s Choice Award, that went to Kirby Building Systems.
North American Stamping won the 2023 Strawberry Festival Grand Champion Float Award.
In closing thoughts, Chamber Event Director Kristen Daughtry concluded, “We are so thankful that the rain stayed away for a great Strawberry Festival weekend. We estimate about 40 thousand attendees between the festival, concert, and the other events that were held. We had about 50 parade participants and 200 vendors for this year’s event. We also had a lot of amazing volunteers and organizations that helped to make it possible, along with the City of Portland workers. It’s amazing what a community can do when it pulls together!”
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