Courtney Foster crowned 2018 Strawberry Festival Queen

The masters of ceremony thought it would be funny to take a selfie and struggle with opening the envelope before announcing the Miss Congeniality and 2018 Strawberry Festival Queen winners at coronation. The anxiety could be felt.

Paige Burroughs was voted Miss Congeniality, and Courtney Foster was crowned Queen for the 2018 Strawberry Festival at the 109th annual coronation May 24.

One of the things the judges most liked about Foster was that she was very passionate about the city of Lebanon and its community, said Mike Lee, one of the three judges.

“We’re not from Lebanon, but she made us fall in love with the city,” Lee said.

Foster also made it clear she understood what the role of Queen represented, added Barb Malloy, another judge.

At the coronation, the princesses performed a dance routine that included mascots AJ and Ida Berry. The court wore shirts representing such heroes as police, military, fire, sheriff and EMT, and acted out scenes of heroism, including catching AJ in the act of stealing the crown.

As is custom, each princess had to answer a question that challenged them to think on their feet and give a prudent response.

When 2017 Strawberry Queen Maddie Norris bid farewell to her reign, she reflected on the moment when she, too, had to answer the secret question.

“The impromptu question was easily the thing we all were worried about most,” Norris said.

Her question at last year’s coronation was along the lines of what she would do to keep the community positive during a crisis. Her response: there is a reason for everything, and the community needs to unite when things get difficult.

Norris noted the question was appropriate to what happened at Lebanon High School last week when three students brought a firearm to school, and she realized the question finally made sense to her. Many people were scared, angry and sad, she said.

“I now understand why I got the question that I did,” she said. “It was so I can speak to you today and tell you that we as a community can take each other by the hand and lift those around us.”

On a lighter note, the junior court was introduced at the coronation and also had an opportunity to answer questions. Though the questions presented to the junior court were much less difficult, many of the girls couldn’t think of what to say to the man who put the mic in their face.

Kelly Odegaard and Jeremy Woodall were the goof-off masters of ceremony, keeping the audience entertained with jokes and quips, and Pam Hoene sang the National Anthem during the presentation of flags. Patrick Bowler, of Valley Life church, did the invocation, and girls from Hollywood Studios presented three dance routines.

Masters of ceremony Kelly Odegaard (left) and Jeremy Woodall stand with Mayor Paul Aziz (center) as he gives the proclamation for the 2018 Strawberry Festival.
The Strawberry Court plays a dance and skit routine with mascots AJ and Ida Berry.
Father Ken Foster dips his daughter, Courtney Foster, as he escorts her on the stage.