In 2018, the Strawberry Festival brought back its Junior Court after an absence of 35 years.
The return of the Junior Court proved popular and the court is back for the 2019 festival. On Thursday, April 11, the 2019 Junior Court was crowned in a ceremony held at Santiam Place.
The court includes eight second-grade students from Lebanon area schools. They are: Charlea Branton (Hamilton Creek), Dahlia Brennen (Sand Ridge), Leilahni Hall (East Linn Christian), Izabella Jones (Pioneer), Reese King (Riverview), Madison Kirbey (Cascades), Emily Nelson (Lacomb) and Zoee Ruonavaara (Green Acres).
Jami Cate, the chair of the Lebanon Strawberry Festival board, said there were three times as many applicants this year as in 2018. Once the applications were received, a princess from each school was selected at random.
"We hadn't had one since 1983 and there was a lot of interest in it once we started doing the dress display again and educating people about the history of our courts," Cate said. "They were such a hit, everyone loved them and they're so cute."
The princesses were crowned by the members of the Strawberry Festival Court: Isabella Ayala, Svea Bruslind, Hanna Davis, Avery Hartl and Maddy Romeo.
Hartl said this was about the 10th event the princesses have attended, with a full slate of events on the horizon.
"I am so excited. When we first started I was ready to go and I thought it was a lot, but I realize now more and more that this is one of the best experiences of my life and I just want to take it full throttle," Hartl said.
There will be a change this year in the crowning of the Strawberry Festival queen. For many years, the crowning has been held as part of an event at Lebanon High School.
This year, the queen will be crowned on stage at Cheadle Lake Park at 5:30 p.m. on Friday, May 31. Cate said making the crowning part of the Strawberry Festival will hopefully make it feel more connected to the rest of the festivities.
"That is traditionally how it was done. She was crowned right before the grand parade, often the morning of the parade on a street corner when it was still downtown," Cate said.
Also on that Friday night, country singer Steve Holy will be the featured performer. Holy has had two songs hit the top spot on the country music charts, "Good Morning Beautiful" and "Brand New Girlfriend."
There will also be a change in the carnival at this year's festival.
Portland-based Rainier Amusements will operate the carnival, which will feature a cashless midway.
The festival will be held May 30 through June 2.