Sunday, August 17, 2008

Las Fresas: The Strawberry Girls

I love being from Florida. So, when a magazine like The New Yorker gives space for an article, not about our botched elections or Orlando or Miami....but an article about Floridian culture, well, that catches my attention.

The Strawberry Girls, by Anne Hull (apparently a Plant City native) was all about the Strawberry Festival and it's Royal Court of Fresas. It was a very nostalgic piece, about the way things were before Disney paved over orange fields with plastic. This, of course, is the way my grandmothers remember it too. But I'm just a little cynical of Hull's belief that the Strawberry Girls somehow are a bastion, a hold-out of Plant City's values. For all her praise, they still seem like vapid beauty queens who aren't on their way to higher education or thinking. One girl paid more for her dress than she could hope to win in scholarship money.

The truth is that simple, country people all over America have allowed Wal-mart and fast food and strip malls to take our culture away. The very people who lament better days long gone are the same people who voted in politicians who allowed corporations to take over rural America, the same people who didn't protest a SuperWal-mart coming into their counties. I think Americans are going to have to overhaul the system to get our country back. But I don't think the Strawberry Girls will lead us.

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