Photos courtesy of Nola Kundu and Laurent Vital
It may have been a cold and wintry evening February 26, but it was all Hollywood inside the Marysville-Pilchuck High School auditorium as the royal court for the 2011 Strawberry Festival was selected during the April Friesner Memorial Scholarship Pageant.
At the end of the evening, Queen Louie Vital was flanked by Princess Lauren Stallcup and Prince Erik Kundu as this year's festival representatives. All the winners attend Marysville Getchell High School.
The queen receives a $5,000 scholarship from Maryfest
, the organization that produces the Strawberry Festival, while the prince and princess will each receive $3,500 awards.
"Berrywood" is the theme for this year's Strawberry Festival, and the auditorium stage glittered with movie-star sparkle, complete with a large replica of the Hollywood--or Berrywood--sign adorned in glittering strawberries.
On one side of the stage stood a large papier-mâché camera, and on the other side a quintessential scene marker decorated the master of ceremony's podium.
Ten young ladies and one young man presented themselves for the judges: Michele Forkner of Issaquah Salmon Days, Nancy Kennell from the Regatta Festival in Astoria, Oregon, and Susan McGuire from the Puyallup Valley Daffodil Festival.
The eleven young contestants had appeared before seven organizations in the months prior to the pageant. By the time the 2011 royalty was announced, the contestants had been interviewed by forty-five individuals.
The master of ceremonies Frank Michal said, "After working with these young people I know the judges have a tough job."
As part of the competition, the candidates were asked to present a speech on Hollywood, its effect on society or its history. Vital, who also won the Bob Klepper Miss Congeniality Award at the pageant, reminded the audience, "We do not need the media to tell us who we are or who we should be."
The winning talent presentations included a rendition of Michael Jackson's "Thriller" by Kundu, a "What Not to Wear" style demonstration by Stallcup, and a scene from Shakespeare's "Julius Caesar" performed by Vital.
Vital's convincing portrayal as Julius Caesar's wife, Portia, in her Shakespearean performance stunned audience members and judges alike.
Unable to attend, last year's Queen Kaija Wilcox sent a greeting, "To all this year's royalty, this is a moment you will never forget. Say thank you for everything."
Former princesses Haley Otto and Ella Stefoglo were quite the comedians as they recalled their experiences last year. The two crowned the new prince, princess and queen and swathed the royalty in sashes and flowers.
Three sixth-graders were also crowned as 2011's Junior Royalty. Kennedy Doty, Sheridan Hedman, and Denise Jacobson each received $150 scholarships and the opportunity to represent their community.
All of the young contestants will grace this year's Strawberry Festival float at the local festival and at parades throughout the northwest.