“To feel like a queen is as simple as believing you are one.”
Hello! My name is Whitney Stires and I am the 2016 London Strawberry Festival Queen. This past year has been the best year of my life. Throughout my reign, I have been on a wild and crazy adventure filled with excitement. I have met so many amazing people and made friends with other festival queens.
The Wednesday evening before the pageant, I got ready for my interview. I sat in the room with the other contestants waiting anxiously on who was next to go in. I talked to my mom about different random things the whole time to try to get myself to calm down. People were handing out the contestant numbers before they started. I got number 7. Through the three days when I got nervous my mom would always tell me, “You got lucky number 7. Maybe you will get lucky.” I never thought my mom would be so right about something.
Thursday, pageant day! I’ve never been as nervous as I was then. Once I walked up on stage, I forgot everything around me and just smiled. When I was doing my “walk” and answering my fish bowl questions it hit me hard. I was actually in a pageant. I was your typical “farm girl” who loved (and still do) playing volleyball and softball.
Saturday, crowning day. This was the day my life changed forever, and I never even knew it would. As the other contestants and I stood at the side of the stage we talked and squeezed each others hands. I thought to myself “And I thought I was nervous during the pageant?” As the two attendants were called, there were three of us left. Then my name was called for Miss Strawberry! I stood in shock and amazement. So many emotions were going on. Feeling my crown on top of my head for the very first time was incredible. I didn’t want to take it off that night!
Through my many adventures as queen, my favorite was my trip to Atlantic City, New Jersey to attend the 2017 Miss America Pageant cheering on Miss Ohio, Alice Magoto. The funniest moment on the trip was sharing a bed with my queen director Holly. When I sleep, I am known to kick, punch, or slap. One night I accidentally punched my director in the face through the night. I even warned her as soon as we stepped into the hotel room. Another memorable moment was my community service project as queen. I organized, collected and assembled cancer care packages for the oncology unit at Madison Health. I enjoyed passing them out to a few of the patients and seeing how much it meant to them … it meant just as much to me.
Going through all the festival parades, I would always hear little kids say, “Look mommy, it’s a princess.” Some of my favorite festivals I have attended were the Mothman Festival, Obetz Zucchini Fest, Circleville Pumpkin Show, Celina Lake Festival, Moonshine Festival, and Feast of the Flowering Moon.
There have been so many people who have held a special place in my heart throughout my reign. Each of my court members are very special to me. The younger court members are like my little sisters. I’m always playing around with them and helping them get together before going on the float.
Briana, you’re the little sister I never got to have. It was so much fun spending time with you and joking around on the parade float right before a parade starts. I can’t wait to see the “BIG” crown on you!
Kristin, where do I even start. You’re my best friend. My rock when I needed to vent to someone about anything, I go straight to you. I guess you could pretty much call us sisters. We play around and fight like sisters. We’re always looking out for each other and if one of us was “showing too much skin” we’d yell at her for it. It’s been a pleasure for you to be one of my Queen Attendants and I wouldn’t want anyone to take your place.
Klarissa, we only traveled to one festival together but it was a blast.
Dad, thanks for driving me all across Ohio just to visit festivals. Also, pulling the float when someone wasn’t able to. And for making my dreams come true.
Wesley, thank you for getting up early with your big sister and going to the festivals with me. I’m sure you didn’t mind since it involved seeing girls.
Mom, thank you for doing my hair, makeup, and getting my crown on just right. Thank you for smiling through my attitude!
Kevin Stockham (my softball coach) thanks for being a bodyguard when needed and for the words of encouragement.
Grammy, thank you for buying me some beautiful gowns and decorations for my luncheon.
Mamaw, Papaw, and Aunt Jane thank you for making the delicious cupcakes for the luncheon.
Being a part of the London Strawberry Festival as Miss Strawberry has been an amazing journey. I hope I was a huge influence to the little girls who asked for a picture with me and an even bigger influence to my court members. I will cherish all of my memories with you all forever. I started with a quote so I’ll end with one.
“Remember to stay anchored and follow your dreams to make memories.” I sure did! For the last time, I am and forever will be the 2016 Miss Strawberry Queen. Thank you.