Royal court candidates to share ‘Sweet 16’ memories

for the Sequim Gazette

Four Sequim High School young women will vie for Irrigation Festival queen Feb. 26. The remaining three will be princesses.


Each participant will wear a ball gown, demonstrate special talents, answer impromptu questions and give speeches in front of an auditorium full of friends, family and strangers — sharing how she plans to represent Sequim.


Prior to the pageant, the girls have learned about poise, makeup, hair styling and public speaking.


Cindy Bacon, pageant chairwoman and a 1973 princess, scores the competitors on attendance, camaraderie and punctuality.


“Some of the girls have never been on stage, let alone spoken in a microphone,” Bacon said. “So, it’s very fun for me to watch them blossom.”


The 116th Sequim Irrigation Festival is May 6-15. The festival theme is “One Hundred and Sweet Sixteen.” During the pageant, each of the four girls will share memories from her sweet 16th birthday.


The pageant, according to Bacon, is the kickoff event for the festival. It’s where the royalty are crowned and where the grand marshal, pioneers and other dignitaries are all revealed.


“Celebrate this special night with us,” Bacon said. “Come and root for your favorite girl.”


The 2011 pageant sponsor is Kitsap Bank.


For more information, go online to
Meet the contestants

Marissa Haner

Haner, 16, plays varsity volleyball and is active in leadership class.


After high school, Haner plans to pursue a career as a radiology technician but might first take a year to travel to Spain and/or Australia, perhaps donating her time to a worthy mission. Ten years from now, she envisions herself working as a MRI technician and having “a cute little family.”


Haner said she wants to be on the court so she can give back and be more involved in the community.

“Sequim is a beautiful and wonderful place to be raised in, with the gorgeous mountains and the Strait of Juan de Fuca, not to mention a great school,” she said.


Haner describes herself as an outgoing and smiley person who loves to laugh.


Sunny Farms Country Store is sponsoring Haner. Her parents are Danette and Jeff Haner.

Stephanie Laurie

Laurie, 16, enjoys ballet, classical and alternative music, pencil art and reading fantasy novels. Her immediate plans after graduation are to attend the University of Washington in Seattle to major in pre-law. She hopes to become a lawyer but hasn’t ruled out the idea of becoming an interior designer instead.


Laurie said the best advice she’s ever received came from her father when he told her to “Act young when you’re young because when you’re older it’ll be too late to enjoy your childhood.”


Following that advice, Laurie decided to enter the Irrigation Festival pageant.


“I love meeting new people and visiting new places and I would love to represent my town,” Laurie said.

“Sequim is a place with a lot of rich history and beautiful landscape; the small town that has shaped me into the person I am today and residence to my family and closest friends.”


Laurie said she feels prepared to represent Sequim in part because of her dance instructor Kathleen Herndon-Moore of Pioneer Dance Arts.


“Any grace you find in me was taught to me by Miss K. Lee Moore,” Laurie said. “She’s made such an impact on my life — more than she’ll ever know.”


Hurricane Coffee Company is sponsoring Laurie. Her parents are Josephine and John Laurie.


Abigail Vidals

Vidals, 17, is the only senior participating in the pageant this year. Her hobbies and interests include soccer and chocolate, in that order!


After graduation, Vidals plans to go to college and study culinary arts. Someday she’d like to own a restaurant, possibly with a family.


“I have always looked up to my parents, especially my mom (because) she works so hard but still has time for her family,” Vidals said. “She is always so happy (and) never is negative.”


To Vidals, Sequim is home.


“I feel safe here,” she said. “It’s a peaceful town — and I love the lavender!”


Preparing for the pageant is helping Vidals shed her shy nature and show people the energetic person she truly is.


“I would like to represent Sequim and show people what this town is all about,” she said.


V & J Janitorial is sponsoring Vidals. Her parents are Ino and Gerardo Vidals.

Taylor Willis

Willis, 17, plays badminton, hikes and cheers. When she’s not enjoying the outdoors, Willis often can be found at her computer blogging. After high school, she plans to attend a four-year university and then go on to medical school.


“I would like to be a doctor and eventually use my profession to serve and give back to others,” she said. “(In 10 years) I see myself as a doctor working part time and also raising a cute little family.”


Though Willis wasn’t born and raised in Sequim, she’s been visiting her grandparents every year since she can remember.


“It’s always felt like a second home to me,” she said. “I think I would represent Sequim well and I would be a good example to others. I try to do my best and keep high standards.”


Highway 101 Diner is sponsoring Willis. Her parents are Sherry and Vance Willis.




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