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Woodworking couple's Strawberry Festival dreams come true

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Posted at 5:52 AM, Mar 10, 2021

PLANT CITY, Fla. — There is a husband and wife woodworking team out of Plant City who have traveled all over the country selling their art. Ironically, the one festival left on their bucket list is in their own backyard.

Despite living just five miles from the Strawberry Festival fairgrounds, it wasn’t until this year that Deb’s Country Classics was invited to be a vendor.

“With the COVID pandemic a lot of the vendors didn’t want to come this year so it opened up the door for people like us who had been on the waiting list,” said Bill O’Connor.

Bill and his wife Debbie have been making art out of wood for the past 38 years. Bill does the carving and Debbie does the painting.

“Well it started out as a family project, we get our kids involved with it, they sanded and stained, of course they probably griped about it a little bit, but they helped us quite a bit,” said Debbie.

From baskets, to bears, to berries, it's finally their turn in 2021 to show off what they can do.

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“A dream come true for us being able to be out here because we’ve seen it so many years all those different vendors and we knew we could do a good job out here,” said Debbie.

Bill said it’s important to savor every moment. He lives with Parkinson’s, each piece of wood he carves he considers a blessing.

“Most people are surprised that I’m able to manufacture the wood furniture and all the woodworking and still have Parkinson's,” said Bill.

“The doctors have all said keep busy doing this, we tell them what we do and they say that’s the best thing you can do just keep at it,” said Debbie.

Considering they’ve lived in Plant City since 1992, it’s like a reunion every few minutes, constantly running into old friends.

“It's always nice to get compliments on what you do, that’s a big boost to your ego a little bit, and to know that people can appreciate it,” said Debbie.

On Tuesday Bill and Debbie were awarded the second place ribbon for best Arts and Crafts Exhibit.

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If the amount of sales they’ve made so far is any indication, Bill and Debbie are well on their way to making another dream come true.

“We’re hoping that we earn enough at the festival to pay for a cruise we can take in November to celebrate our 52nd wedding anniversary,” said Bill.

For more information on Deb’s Country Classics email wpo1949@gmail.com.