Princess Annie Latimer

Annie Latimer, 18, knows that canceling the Strawberry Festival this year has been “super hard” on the community, but she has faith they’ll get through it.
That’s one thing she appreciates about Lebanon: the tight-knit sense of community people have, and the town’s ability to come together and find a way to get through the tough times, she said.
As a princess on this year’s Strawberry Court, Latimer has most enjoyed getting dressed up and going out to meet people. That’s because the pandemic has prevented everyone from being able to do such things as much as usual.
So far, she’s had fun meeting the “little kiddos” at the Boys & Girls Club, and being on a Zoom assembly with grade schools.
“They all had so many questions like, ‘Are you a real princess?’ It was so cute,” Latimer said.
One of her other favorite experiences has been visiting with residents at the assisted living facilities, and talking to possibly the oldest living Strawberry Queen, Ruth (Schackman) Lenox, who was crowned in 1941.
“She was so cute and adorable, but we could only stay and chat for about 30 minutes,” Latimer said. “Normally we’d go inside and sit down for lunch and talk with everybody, but we weren’t able to do that this year.”
As such, if time, money and COVID weren’t obstacles, the one thing Latimer would like to do as a princess is spend more time talking with people.
She remembers what it was like to be a child meeting the princesses every year.
“When I was little, all the princesses would come to the schools, and we’d all freak out,” she said. “It’s like your favorite celebrity just walked in the room.”
Kids get excited about a lot of things, she said, and it’s a big deal when someone new walks in the room and they’re told it’s a real princess.
“I always wanted to be one when I was growing up, and now I am, so that’s really exciting.”
As a princess, Latimer knows she’s being a role model for those kids, she said.
“It means a lot that I can now be that person for them, somebody that they look up to. And now they can say, ‘I want to be a princess when I grow up,’” she said.
As a part of the court this year, the princess likes meeting people in the community, but there’s one day she’s looking forward to in particular.
“I’m really looking forward to the strawberry shortcake day, when you get to give the entire community strawberry shortcake,” she said. “That was a really big event last year, and I’m very excited to be a part of that.”
The Strawberry Festival has been a family tradition her whole life because her mom was on the board and they would go to every single festival event. So for Latimer, the 112-year-old tradition is an important one to keep alive.
“It’s been around for so long, and it’s made an impact on so many different families and people, that it’s just all a part of us now,” she said. “And even if I move away, I’m still going to come back every year for strawberry festival because it’s so much fun.”
A festival theme she would suggest for the future would be either “Under the Sea” or “Red Carpet.”
Her parents are her biggest inspiration because they both work hard. Her mom, Emily Latimer, is a school teacher and runs Drama Club, and her dad, Eric Latimer, is a pilot.
“He’s one of the employees that everybody looks up to,” she said. “I strive to be somebody that people can always turn to help for. He’s that person for all of them.”
Being outside and being creative are probably two of Latimer’s most favorite activities. She likes to hike, camp and garden, and she makes mixed-media artwork, as well.
Using acrylic paints, Latimer designs a base color on canvas, then embroiders her own designs with embroidery thread on the canvas.
Some of her artwork is of flower designs, but when working in the garden, she mostly grows vegetables, such as peas, squash and artichoke.
“I just really like being outside and taking care of something,” she said. “It just feels good when I make stuff myself, and I’m eating my food.”
Latimer also makes her own treats. It took her about a year to perfect, but now she can make her own French macaroons.
Looking toward the future, Latimer said she might like to try skydiving, but she also thinks hiking the Pacific Crest Trail would be fun.
One other important interest she has is music. Latimer wanted to go into environmental science for a career, but now she’s also considering music education.
COVID showed Latimer how important music is to her because it prevented her from being in choir and theater this past year and a half.
“I really miss choir and theater a lot because that’s something we just can’t do,” she said. “Music is definitely something that I want to keep in my life forever.”