This year’s 2018 Irrigation Festival Royalty Pageant contestants, from back left, Liliana Williams, Janeydean O’Connor, Eden Batson, Gabi Simonson, and front left, Erin Gordon, McKenna Kelbel and Gracelyn Hurdlow pose together for a group photo. Sequim Gazette photo by Matt Nash

This year’s 2018 Irrigation Festival Royalty Pageant contestants, from back left, Liliana Williams, Janeydean O’Connor, Eden Batson, Gabi Simonson, and front left, Erin Gordon, McKenna Kelbel and Gracelyn Hurdlow pose together for a group photo. Sequim Gazette photo by Matt Nash

Seven girls vying for 2018 royalty

41st-annual Royalty Pageant

When: 6-9 p.m. on Saturday, Feb. 10

Where: Sequim High School Auditorium, 601 N. Sequim Avenue

Tickets: $8 for adults, $5 for children 12 and under. Pre-sale tickets available at Sequim First Federal locations, Sequim-Dungeness Chamber of Commerce. Also available at the door.

Contact: Lynn Horton, Festival Pageant Director, 808-5623

For many young girls growing up in Sequim, the Irrigation Festival Royalty Pageant is an event they look forward to year after year.

This is true of the seven young women that are contestants in this year’s 41st annual royalty pageant set for 6-9 p.m. on Saturday, Feb. 10, at the Sequim High School Auditorium.

The royalty pageant is a scholarship event where contestants will perform creative displays, answer impromptu questions and more for judges to determine the best representatives of Sequim in the coming year as they tour the region with the festival.

Contestants for royalty vie for three spots as princesses and one spot for a queen. The young women participating in the pageant this Saturday include McKenna Kelbel, Gracelyn Hurdlow, Eden Batson, Janeydean O’Connor, Gabi Simonson, Liliana Williams and Erin Gordon.

Each girl is sponsored for the show with Sound Community Bank, Pondicherri Indian Import, Aspire Academy of the Expressive Arts, Richard E. Davies, DDS, Joyful Noise Music Center, Lopez Construction and John L. Scott Sequim.

Tickets for the pageant cost $8 for adults and $5 for children under 12. Pre-sale tickets are available at Sequim First Federal locations, and the Sequim-Dungeness Chamber of Commerce. They are available at the door. For more information, visit www.irrigationfestival.com, or contact Lynn Horton, Festival Pageant Director, at 360-808-5623.

This year’s 123rd Irrigation Festival runs May 4-13.

Meet the seven young women vying for the 2018 Irrigation Festival Pageant contestants:

McKenna Kelbel

Parents: Robert Kelbel Sherree Rawlins

Platform: Body positivity and showing young girls how to achieve a positive body image

Creative display: I’m playing the ukulele and singing “Try” by Colbie Caillat, which focuses on body positivity.

Why did you want to be a part of Irrigation Festival Royalty this year?

Ever since I was little, I would go to the pageants and I would see the princesses on the floats and I didn’t really know what they meant until I became older. I have always been involved in the community and when I realized that that’s what this is all about and really supporting our community I really wanted to do it.

Favorite place in Sequim: I love going to Railroad Bridge Park, especially during Christmas time when they have all the lights up.

Hobbies/activities: Playing ukulele, cheerleading, spending time with family and friends.

What do you want the community know about you?

I really enjoy talking to people. I’ve always loving being involved in the community and in school. I consider myself an outgoing person and I’m always a happy and respectful person. If anyone wants to come up and talk to me, I’d be happy to talk to them.

Future: After high school, I plan to attend a university to study to become a Forensic Science technician.

Gracelyn Hurdlow

Parents: Amy and Travis Hurdlow

Platform: Read Across America

Creative Display: I am a henna artist and I have three designs I will be displaying and talking about.

Why did you want to be a part of Irrigation Festival Royalty this year?

Ever since I was little, I have looked up to these girls (royalty). Growing up I would watch these girls get off at JC Penny’s and I was so excited I wanted to be that. I also wanted to do something to give back to the community and to represent how proud I am of Sequim to people around the state.

Favorite place in Sequim: I love going out to John Wayne Marina and the peace and solitude out there. I also love going to Hurricane Coffee and that community environment.

Hobbies/activities: Reading, henna artistry, hiking the Olympic Mountains with her family, floating the Dungeness River with friends.

What do you want the community to know about you?

Along with loving Sequim, I loved how my family has thrived in this community. For me, I’m a very family-oriented person and I love spending time with them and being out in the community with them.

Future: I am taking a gap year after high school to travel with Youth with a Mission to the Pacific Islands or Papua New Guinea, to work with a team of doctors and nurses to bring help and healing to those in need. I also plan to attend nursing school and specialize in Pediatrics.

Eden Batson

Parents: Shelley and Bill Batson

Platform: Working through the Boys and Girls Club to arrange a number of dance, art, and music classes for children and low-income families.

Creative display: Doing a dance to a song called, “Skinny Love” by Birdy.

Why did you want to be a part of Irrigation Festival Royalty this year?

As a young girl who’s been able to watch the princesses go by, I always looked up to them and wanted to be there. After moving to California for a year and coming back, I realized how amazing and unique this community is and how beautiful of a place we live in and I would love to represent Sequim and be that person the younger generation looks up to.

Favorite place in Sequim: There’s this beautiful lookout at Voice of America where if you hike up a little bit and you go off the path you can sit on this cliff and watch the sunrise and sunset.

Hobbies/activities: Dancing, pencil drawing, collecting antique books and writing.

What do you want the community know about you?

I am always making jokes. I always want to be the person to make someone laugh.

Future: I plan to get a Registered Nursing Degree where my extensive knowledge of the deaf culture and American Sign Language will be an asset.

Janyedean O’Connor

Parents: Becky and Patrick O’Connor

Platform: Sweet Cases

Creative display: Playing the oboe and dancing on point to “Swan Lake.”

Why did you want to be a part of Irrigation Festival Royalty this year?

I want to give back to Sequim for how much it has done for me for growing up in such an amazing community.

Favorite place in Sequim: One of my favorite things to do is go to the mountains; Chicken Coop Road and Palo Alto and go off roading and have bonfires. I also like to walk downtown and go window shopping and eating cupcakes from That Takes the Cake.

Hobbies/activities: Ballet, playing the oboe, 4H, and being a part of Know Your Government (KYG).

What do you want the community know about you?

I was adopted and my mom has homeschooled me my whole life. I have danced ballet for 11 years and played the oboe for seven years in the Northwinds Homeschool band. I am majorly a big part of 4H .

Future: I plan to attend Washington State University eventually working in the dental field.

Gabi Simonson

Parents: Jonathan and Kenda Simonson

Platform: Mentoring and partnering with the Boys and Girls Club to encourage children to fulfill their potential.

Creative display: I will be singing and playing guitar to a song I wrote and recorded for a friend called, “The Way You Are.”

Why did you want to be a part of Irrigation Festival Royalty this year?

When I was little, my sisters and I would walk around the parade and I just always saw all the princesses and I would picture my face on them. I decided to run for my sister Mikayla (who almost ran for Royalty) and for me.

Favorite place in Sequim: I love the mountains and the ocean, but if I had to choose one it would be the mountains.

Hobbies/activities: I play six instruments: guitar, ukulele, banjo, drums, bass guitar and piano. I also love kids and teach Sunday school at Sequim Valley Foursquare Church where my father is pastor.

What do you want the community know about you?

As I was growing up I had severe asthma and that has been a big part of my life.

Future: I want to have a coffee shop with a daycare attached so that when mothers come they can have their kids taken care of and have it be a part of the community not just a place in the community.

Liliana “Lily” Williams

Parents: Karla and Chad Williams

Platform: Bullying in school

Creative display: It goes along with my platform of bullying by doing an interpretive dance to “Clay” by Grace VanderWaal about a girl being bullied.

Why did you want to be a part of Irrigation Festival Royalty this year?

In school, I’ve done lots of hours of community service and I love the outcome, it makes me feel good as a person and being able to help others. Just looking up to royalty my whole life has really inspired me to try out to be a royal. And with the whole family history of being royalty (six family members) that’s been a big impact of why I wanted to be in the festival.

Favorite place in Sequim: My favorite place in Sequim would have to be Railroad Bridge Park. In the summers, I take walks down there with my dogs and siblings and have picnics with my family.

Hobbies/activities: I dance and did ballet for five years, I like being outdoors and spending time with family and friends.

What do you want the community know about you?

I’m really involved in what I do and I really like to express myself in what I do. I’m a really big family person so I like getting to know people.

Future: I plan to attend college for architecture and interior design.

Erin Gordon

Parents: Li Hui and Scott Gordon

Platform: Diversity and educating the community on understanding that each individual is unique and recognizing our differences.

Creative display: I am going to be singing the song from the movie Mulan, “Reflection” in Mandarin Chinese in my mother’s traditional Asian gown she wore for her wedding.

Why did you want to be a part of Irrigation Festival Royalty this year?

Sequim has given me so many opportunities to express myself and to become well educated and I want to help give back to my community and become more involved.

Favorite place in Sequim: It has to be Port Williams, it’s such a calm and peaceful place.

Hobbies/activities: Makeup artistry, singing, acting, playing piano and archery with her father.

What do you want the community know about you?

Even though I have a love of performing and acting, I am very academically driven and I plan on becoming a reconstructive plastic surgeon.

Future: I want to become a reconstructive plastic surgeon and continue to be involved in an acting and modeling agency in Seattle called Kim Brooke talent agency. I also hope to attend the University of Washington.

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