Rhododendron Festival royal court candidates address Jefferson County Chamber of Commerce on local issues
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Rhododendron Festival royal court candidate Addison Richert, at podium, addresses the Jefferson County Chamber of Commerce on Monday as candidates, from left, Shiloh Lanphear-Ramirez, Rachel Ramsey, Becca Spencer, Lane Hill and Kaycee McGuire wait to speak. — Charlie Bermant/Peninsula Daily News

By Charlie Bermant
Peninsula Daily News

PORT TOWNSEND — The six candidates for the 79th annual Rhododendron Festival royal court addressed the Jefferson County Chamber of Commerce on Monday, offering advice about business and social issues.

“One of the hard things about growing up in this community is that we are really closed off,” said Shiloh Lanphear-Ramirez, 16, a junior at Port Townsend High School and the only young man to seek Rhody royalty for several years.

“I think the Chamber of Commerce could help us to create a place where kids could hang out, a place to bring them together.”

The six candidates spoke to about 40 people, each making statements followed by a question and answer period.

Of the six running this year, three will be crowned at the coronation at 5 p.m. March 15 at the Chimacum High School auditorium, 91 West Valley Road.

The queen or king will receive a $1,500 scholarship, and each princess or prince will get one worth $1,000.

Lanphear-Ramirez’ plea for facilities for youth activities was picked up by the other candidates.

“Port Townsend needs a place where kids can go do their homework after school. The rec center could work if they made it bigger and more appealing,” said Lane Hill, 16, a junior at Port Townsend High School.

“We have a lot of youth groups that are associated with churches, but a good idea would be to create a youth group without the religion part that has some structured activities,” said Addison Richert, 16, a junior at Port Townsend High school.

“I think people need to change how they think about teenagers,” said Kaycee McGuire, 17, a senior at Chimacum High School.

“You can walk into a shop, and the shop owner thinks you are going to do something because you are a ruffian, but not all of us are like that.

“There bad kids, but not everyone is a bad kid.”

Rachel Ramsey, 17, a senior at Port Townsend High School, said she’d like to see a space created where kids of all ages could gather and meet people they wouldn’t normally encounter.

“In high school you have the cliques, the jocks, the cheerleaders, the smart people and the outcasts,” said Becca Spencer, 16, a junior at Port Townsend High School.

“We should figure out a way to have all the lunches together so you can talk to people and not have everybody separated,”

Prior to the question and answer session, the candidates gave short speeches to share their thoughts on the topic of “what advice would you give a new business in Port Townsend?”

“The best products combined with excellent customer service and accompanied by two gracious words, ‘thank you,’ will help make customers happy and make them want to return,” Hill said.

Ramsey struck a similar customer-oriented approach.

“If you are kind to your customers, they will always come back,” Ramsey said.

“Treating others with respect and going out of your way to make someone’s day better by simply smiling at them or complimenting them on their taste in clothes or food can make a world of difference.”

While Hill and Ramsey focused on customer service, Spencer highlighted the importance of setting your business apart from the rest.

“When starting your business you need to stand out so that community members know you’re there,” Spencer said.

“But in our historic town, the big flashing lights will ruin this unique place, so you need to be subtle but lively.”

Richert underscored the benefit of allying business with pre-existing networks.

“The Wooden Boat Festival serves as an ambassador for our town,” Richert said.

“It raises the profile of the town to a level that money can’t buy.”

“The Wooden Boat Festival’s marketing efforts include the names of the businesses that sponsor it, so for a new business owner to align itself with something that is already successful can only be a good thing.”

McGuire and Lanphear-Ramirez didn’t answer the question directly, taking a more philosophical path.

“The key to success is pursuing your passions,” McGuire said.

“I believe we are placed on this earth to express ourselves, and I believe that we must all choose a profession that allows us to do so.”

Lanphear-Ramirez’ response was to respectively quote Martin Luther King and Confucius by saying “All labor that uplifts humanity has dignity and importance and should be undertaken with painstaking excellence,” and “I challenge you to choose a job that you love and you will never have to work a day in your life.”

At the coronation, the doors will open at 4:30 p.m.

Admission is $5 per person or $20 for a family of four or more.

The annual festival is set from May 12-17. It is always capped by a grand parade through Port Townsend offering a trike race, bed race, kiddie parade, pet parade, flower show, carnival, golf tournament and other events.

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Jefferson County Editor Charlie Bermant can be reached at 360-385-2335 or cbermant@peninsuladailynews.com.

Last modified: March 10. 2014 8:12PM
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