Meet the Court: Princess Makayla Lewis

By Sarah Brown
Lebanon Local

The 114th Strawberry Festival, themed “Peace, Love and Strawberries,” arrives as the world recovers from the effects of a pandemic. Finding peace and showing love may be some of the most valuable traits a princess could possess this year.

When Princess Makayla Lewis feels stressed or anxious, all she has to do is look at her two little brothers to feel at peace. For the world at large to find peace, she believes people should realize there are different ideas, but that doesn’t necessarily mean there has to be conflict.
“I believe there’s a way to argue your side without getting violent or upset, even if someone doesn’t understand where you’re coming from,” she said.
To demonstrate affection, she likes giving gifts, speaking words of affirmation and connecting with others by touch, she said. These are the same ways she feels loved, so it makes sense to reciprocate through the same means.
Lewis’ parents are Robert and stepmother Britny Lewis. She has three sisters and two brothers.
The Lebanon High School senior plans to attend the Oregon State University College of Education in Corvallis to become an elementary school teacher.
“Being a Strawberry Princess, I get to go around to all the schools,” she said, “and it’s kind of a little glimpse into the future.”
Lewis moved to Lebanon in the fifth grade, just in time to meet the members of that year’s Strawberry Court, who sat with and complimented her.
“It made me feel really special,” she said. “It was really influential for me, and I’d like to be that for other kids.”
The 18-year-old may enjoy painting, hiking, cooking and traveling, but she also feels that time with her brothers, Ryker and Emmett, is time well spent. They all play together, and the boys help her bake. As the weather began warming up earlier this spring, they even had a water-balloon fight.
“They are kind of what got me into teaching because I spend a lot of time taking care of them,” she said. “So I’d say they are my ‘hobby,’ or my pride and joy.”
When she’s not with her family, Lewis stays busy by volunteering as a cabin leader with the Western Oregon Outdoor Schools, participating in student council and working at Dutch Bros. And, of course, she now has her royal duties as a princess.
“It definitely keeps me busy, but it’s really nice we get to visit these schools and be role models for other kids,” she said. “I can’t tell you how many children have come up to me and said, ‘When I’m your age, I’m going to be a Strawberry Princess.’ That’s really special to me.”
But the ukulele-playing brunette has her own role models: her parents.
“My dad is a very hard worker, so that’s important to me,” Lewis said. “And watching my (step) mom raise my brothers, teaching them it’s okay to feel things and feel the way you feel; I think she’s just done a very good job at letting the kids accept themselves and accept other people.”
She also looks up to her stepmother’s persistence in studying to become a nurse, and appreciates her fellow princess Alyssa Baker’s attitude.
“She is the life of the party,” she said of Baker. “She’s always in a good mood, and I really admire that about her.”
When she’s ready to begin her career in education, Lewis hopes to return to Lebanon and raise her own kids on Strawberry Festival traditions in a town that she said is not so big but also not too small.
“I’d like my kids to be able to participate in it,” she said. “I think it’s a fun thing and there’s a lot of different causes that go into it, like Walk a Mile for a Child (a fundraising event supporting child abuse awareness in Linn and Benton counties). I think it’s more than just a festival once a year.”
For Lewis, the parades are “pretty fun” and seeing the kids smile is “awesome.”