2024 Junior Court Presented in Tiara Ceremony

The 115th Lebanon Strawberry Festival Court is, from left, back row: Strawberrian Lynet Parrish, Strawberrian Tanya Smith, Strawberrian Joan Wimmer, Strawberrian Peggy Lewis, Princess Addison Cable, Princess Jannah Jimenez-Esparza, Princess Kaelyn Aguirre, 2023 Festival Queen Libby Jorgensen, Princess Molly Theodoroff, Princess Stella Lang, Strawberrian Doris Modderman, Strawberrian Daisjah Prestenbach, Strawberrian Sonja Jorgensen, Strawberrian Carol Dinges, Strawberrian Louise Devinny; and from left, front row: Princess Abigail Briden, Princess Ahnjess Gunnett, Princess Alicia Nunez-Aikin, Princess AnnaLyn Grove, Princess Audriana Torres, Princess Ava Luebke, Princess Bristol Davis, Princess Kodie Hilchey and Princess Million Swensen. Photos by Sarah Brown

Lights beaming from chandeliers at River Center provided a dazzling display of sparkling tiaras as the 115th Lebanon Strawberry Festival Junior Court was presented on April 3.

Senior Court Princess Molly Theodoroff adjusts the tiara for Junior Court Princess Audriana Torres.

This was the second year the Junior Court tiara-crowning ceremony was held at River Center. Previously it had been held at Santiam Place and Lebanon High School. According to Junior Court Co-Chair Kimberly McGuigan, a scheduling conflict at the high school prompted the move to River Center last year.

“The acoustics and the intimacy in the River Center was very nice, so we opted to have it here again,” McGuigan said.

“This is their first big event specifically geared towards them,” added Junior Court Chair Tayah   Storkson. “It’s nice that they literally get the spotlight right on them, so it kind of breaks the ice for them.”

2023 Strawberry Festival Queen Libby Jorgensen emceed the ceremony, which consisted of introducing each junior princess and formalizing their position with a tiara, sash and bouquet of roses.

Each young girl, outfitted in a green tulle dress and red cardigan, represented one of the elementary schools of Lebanon and answered questions posed by Jorgensen.

Princess Alicia Nunez-Aikin answers questions about her favorite animal and favorite part of the Strawberry Festival.

First up was Abigail Briden, of Green Acres. She likes drawing and art, and her favorite part of the Strawberry Festival is “having fun.” Next presented was Princess Ahnjess Gunnett, of Pioneer. Her favorite animals are the red panda and racoons. She likes the rides at the festival.

Princess Alicia Nunez-Aikin, of Cascades, likes pandas. Her favorite part of the festival is the floats in the parades. Princess AnnaLyn Grove, who is home-schooled, said she likes cheetahs and “having fun” at the festival.

Next up was Princess Audriana Torres, of East Linn Christian Academy. Her favorite activity is puzzles, and she said her favorite part of the Strawberry Festival is “being kind to others.” Princess Ava Luebke, of Riverview, likes turtles and the festival parades. Princess Bristol Davis, of Hamilton Creek, said she likes art and her favorite part about the festival is being on the floats. Princess Kodie Hilchey, of Sand Ridge Charter, likes tumbling and the festival parade. Princess Million Swensen, of Lacomb, said her favorite activity is drawing and reading. Her favorite part of the Strawberry Festival is the rides.

Princess Ava Luebke waves to the audience at the 2024 Junior Strawberry Festival Court crowning ceremony.

Storkson sat in the front row of the audience and could be seen using hand gestures to remind the young girls to wave and curtsy during their introduction.

“Besides our meeting, they don’t really know how to do any of this, so this is really nerve-racking for them coming in and seeing a big crowd,” Storkson said, adding that she sits front and center so they have a familiar face to look at for hand cues.

“It’s been a great opportunity to be a positive influence in these little girls’ lives,” she said. “Being a positive influence for them, teaching them how to be ladies, it’s so rewarding.”

The junior court is randomly chosen from a pool of second-grade applicants. The 2024 Senior Strawberry Festival Court was also introduced at the ceremony, and the junior court was escorted by the Lady Strawberrians.