Royalty participating in the 2022 scholarship pageant on Saturday, include, clockwise from top left, Ellie Turner, Katherine Gould, Isabella Williams and Lauren Willis. (Photos by Keith Ross/Keith’s Frame of Mind)

Royalty participating in the 2022 scholarship pageant on Saturday, include, clockwise from top left, Ellie Turner, Katherine Gould, Isabella Williams and Lauren Willis. (Photos by Keith Ross/Keith’s Frame of Mind)

Irrigation royalty pageant to be in-person

Four high schoolers share dreams, talents

SEQUIM — The Sequim Irrigation Festival’s future royalty will once again go before a live audience.

The annual scholarship pageant, when the queen and court are crowned, is set for 6 p.m. Saturday in Sequim High School’s auditorium, 533 N. Sequim Ave.

Four high-schoolers — Katherine Gould, Ellie Turner, Isabella Williams and Lauren Willis — participate in the pageant featuring creative displays, impromptu questions, past royalty and more.

Tickets are $10 for 13 and up and $5 for 12 and under at the door, Sequim Avenue First Federal branches and from contestants. Masks are required to attend the event.

Royalty were last crowned in-person on March 7, 2020 — just prior to the COVID-19 pandemic shutdown. That year’s royalty participated in just two events: the kickoff dinner and a procession through Sequim.

Last year’s royalty contestants had a virtual pageant and many of their events were canceled but were able to participate at events in Tacoma, Forks and Sequim (including the procession and kickoff dinner).

This year’s royalty will serve the festival in its 127th year, Washington state’s longest continuing running festival. They’ve been practicing for months at the Shipley Center in preparation for the pageant.

Organizers plan to bring the festival’s full events back to in-person this May.

For more information, visit irrigationfestival.com.

Contestants

Katherine Gould

Parents: Shawn and Stephanie Gould.

Sponsor: Sequim Prairie Grange.

Platform: A day of beach cleaning.

Creative display: Acrylic painting.

Katherine Gould comes from a long line of pioneers through the Parrish family, who have been in Sequim for four generations.

One of her favorite memories of the Sequim Irrigation Festival is going to the Grand Parade with her great-grandfather Ron Parrish, a 2017 honorary pioneer.

“It was a fun time,” Gould said. “I got to see my cousins, and we’d sit wherever we could find the biggest area for our family.”

Joining the royalty has always been an interest for her because she has always looked up to the royals, she said.

“I want to be a role model for other young girls,” she said.

“I’m an only child, and very quiet and I’ve grown a lot being in royalty. I’ve been wanting to grow as a person and become more confident in myself and this has really helped.”

Gould is an active member of the Interact Club and National Honor Society, and has a part-time job cleaning houses.

Some of her hobbies include reading, drawing, hiking, beach-walking and collecting shells.

She attended Olympic Peninsula Academy for grades 2-8, and says walking on Port Williams Beach is one of her favorite places to go with friends.

When traveling with her family, Gould said she appreciates the diverse characteristics of structures within different communities. She plans to use her passion for architectural design in college with hopes to design environmentally conscious buildings for future generations.

Ellie Turner

Parents: Christopher Turner and Maris Larsen.

Sponsor: Oscar Lopez Painting.

Platform: First Responders Appreciation Day.

Creative display: How to use a fire extinguisher.

A Sequim native, Ellie Turner says she’s connected to the community in many ways, whether spending time with friends outside of school or being captain of the varsity gymnastics team.

She comes from a large family of first responders with her father and brother serving as firefighters and her mother and stepfather as police detectives. Ellie plans to pursue a career as a paramedic.

She said she enjoys biomedical science classes and was accepted to study paramedical science at Central Washington University.

Turner said her goal is to make a difference as a royal.

“For me, I want to leave Sequim feeling like I left a mark, and I did something worthy before I went off to college,” she said.

Turner said she had confidence issues when she was younger, and “doing this is part of me coming out of my shell.”

“It’s not that I’m not comfortable with it,” she said. “It’s something I didn’t see myself doing.

“Doing this shows I have a lot more worth than I ever thought I did.”

She’s competed in gymnastics for nine years and enjoys cheering on other Sequim High School sports teams throughout the year. She also grew up watching and going to the Everett Silvertips hockey team’s games.

One of Turner’s favorite festival memories is watching the Grand Parade by the Hi-Way 101 Diner with her grandmother Ruth Turner, who would order sweet potato fries and for her granddaughter either a BLT or chicken strips.

While some teens complain about Sequim being too small, Turner said she likes it.

“I feel that’s uncommon,” she said. “Some want to get out of a small town, but I like knowing everyone.”

Some of her favorite spots include Voice of America Park, Cline Spit and any local beach to watch the sunset, she said.

Isabella Williams

Parents: Chad and Karla Williams

Sponsor: Hill Crest Homes

Platform: Adopt A Grandparent

Creative display: Singing a Sequim parody of “Can’t take My Eyes off of You”

Growing up in Sequim, Isabella Williams said she loves the festival and the fun activities it brings to Sequim.

She recalls going to the Crazy Daze Breakfast with her mom one year wearing matching poodle skirts as one of the many highlights.

Joining the royalty was an opportunity to do more community service, and that “getting to know my community more was exciting to me,” she said.

At Sequim High, Williams is involved in the Interact Club, La Cima Club — a Hispanic cultural club — National Honor Society and Leadership as the class of 2023 treasurer.

She is interested in STEM and plans to attend college to become a chemist.

For her hobbies, Williams enjoys golf, games with friends, singing, dancing, and baking.

She also enjoys playing golf with her dad and working summers at The Cedars at Dungeness golf course, exploring the Sequim area’s beautiful trails and the Dungeness River, and taking long bike rides with her family.

Part of her plans include traveling the world, meeting new people and learning things about them and their culture, too.

Williams said she was really close to her great grandparents, which led her to create the Adopt a Grandparent platform because she wants to create fond memories with some community members without family nearby.

She said she likes that Sequim is a tight knit community.

“Everyone knows everyone pretty much, but there’s still a chance you don’t know someone, but you could each have a mutual friend,” Williams said.

Lauren Willis

Parents: Vance and Sherry Willis

Sponsor: Hi-Way 101 Diner

Platform: Down Syndrome Awareness

Creative display: Talking about creating her YouTube channel

For 12 years, Lauren Willis has called Sequim home and prior to that she would visit her grandparents often for holidays and in the summer. She has two older brothers and an older sister, Taylor, who was the festival’s queen in 2011.

It’s been her dream to be a royal ever since, Willis said.

“I saw my sister in the pageant, and I loved to see the festival,” she said.

“I loved it and I love helping other people.”

Willis likes being friendly, sharing hugs and contagious smiles.

Many of her best memories come from her parents’ Hi-Way 101 Diner where she works part-time and watched many parades.

“My favorite part of the festival is seeing all the floats and different people from the diner,” she said.

Going to and from the diner is a regular part of her routine, Willis said, starting with seminary at her church, then breakfast at the diner and then school.

Her hobbies include writing, shopping, cooking, walking, talking, and playing some sports like basketball.

Willis’ dream is to host a YouTube Channel and have at least one million followers.

As a person with Down Syndrome, Lauren said it does not define a person.

“Some people see me differently because I have had Down Syndrome since I was born,” Willis said. “I want people to see me as normal. I like to do what they do.”

She feels as a royal, people will see her for who she is and her unique talents she has to offer the world.

________

Matthew Nash is a reporter with the Olympic Peninsula News Group, which is composed of Sound Publishing newspapers Peninsula Daily News, Sequim Gazette and Forks Forum. Reach him at mnash@sequimgazette.com.

Festival Royalty Pageant

When: 6 p.m. Saturday

Where: Sequim High School auditorium, 533 N. Sequim Ave.

Tickets: $10 adults, $5 for 12 and younger; available at First Federal Sequim Avenue branch, contestants, and at door.

Emcee: Guy Horton.

Note: Masks required.

More information: irrigationfestival.com

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