Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Blog on hiatus. Book on the way.

This blog is currently on hiatus as I prepare the book which has arisen from my travels. Thanks to all the queens (four pictured with me at left), their families, and festivals who helped make it possible. The book is titled The Rhinestone Sisterhood and will be released by Crown in April 2010. When more details are available, I'll post here and at

Thursday, February 26, 2009

It's not just the Miss queens making a difference

Elizabeth Landry (top photo, left), Susan Dore (right), and Tatum Dore (center) show the role that festival queens of all ages play in their community. Elizabeth is the Woman Okra Festival Queen and the Woman Honeybee Festival Queen, while Susan is the Mrs. Okra Festival Queen, and little Tatum is the Tiny Miss Cracklin Festival, T’Nincy Courir de Mardi Gras, Toddler Duck Festival Queen, and Baby Ray*la*ne XI; together, they brought Christmas presents to all of the children at the Ronald McDonald House. Elizabeth and Susan also teamed up to raise funds for the family of Austin Bryant (pictured below), a four year-old with cancer who is undergoing chemotherapy while awaiting a liver transplant. They raised over $2000, in addition to collecting food for the family and baby clothing for Austin's baby brother Dallas, born last week.

Mardi Gras is timeless

The 2008 Southwest Mardi Gras Queen, Danielle Herrell, met a senior queen and her court at an Assisted Living Mardi Gras ball in this picture taken by her mom. (This is one of my favorite photos.)

Mardis Moments with the Cracklin Queen

Brittany Soileau, Cracklin Queen, began her Mardi Gras celebrations by attending two Mardi Gras pageants, where her snapshots captured traditions old and one new: the making of a masque (seen here with the Teen Catfish Queen) and the decorating of Mardi Gras trees, a newer and slightly tongue-in-cheek ritual that extends the shelf life of Christmas trees.

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Swamp Pop Music Festival Queen at Queen of Queens

Megan Waguespack, the Swamp Pop Musical Festival Queen, is a girl with a crown and a mission. Her festival raises funds for Cystic Fibrosis and Megan’s been hard at work attending Bowl-a-thons, Great Stride Walks, Golf Tournaments, and other events for the cause. Since “cystic fibrosis” is hard for children to say, the CF Foundation came up with an easier alternative: “Sixty-five roses,” a phrase which has also become its logo. When Megan arrived at Queen of Queens, her festival surprised her (top left) with a bouquet of sixty-five roses to wish her well and honor her work. The theme of Queen of Queens was LAFF goes to Hollywood, as you can see in Megan’s best red carpet pose with Oscar (far right) and at the costume party, where she was one of the Marilyn Monroes (bottom left, with fellow Marilyn, Miss Beauregard Parish Fair Kacey Brister). This was Megan’s first trip to Queen of Queens and she placed in the Top 15, earning the coveted red pin (center). She and the other finalists shared a prayer of thanksgiving and a plea for calm nerves before the onstage interview portion of the evening; it was the kind of positive moment that shows the best spirit of festival pageants.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Queen of Queens Costume Party

The 86 contestants delighted the Friday night LAFF convention crowd by dressing up as Hollywood characters. These photos, taken by Dayna Willis, show (clockwise from top left) Crawfish Queen Nonnie Berard as Lucille Ball, Washington Catfish Queen Heather Hickey as Cruella Deville, Cattle Queen Kristen Hoover as Jessie from Toy Story, Miss LA Cajun Food Gabrielle Theriot (Willis's daughter) as Mulan, Strawberry Queen Jeni Abrams as Dorothy, Frog Queen Chelsea Richard as the WB Frog, Miss Allen Parish Fair Rose Woodward as Cleopatra, and Celtic Nations Heritage Queen Winter Duhon as Scarlett O'Hara.

Miss LA Cajun Food keeps up with the many moods of Queen of Queens

Gabrielle Theriot, Miss Louisiana Cajun Food, shows the
presto-change-o nature of Queen of Queens weekend,
in which she began with a 1950's look, went professional
for interview, donned a Mulan costume for the LAFF Goes
to Hollywood party, and then glammed up for the pageant.
(Photos courtesy of Dayna Willis.)