The Louisiana Honey Bee Festival is unusual among state festivals in that it doesn’t honor one town, parish, or industry but rather the fight against children’s illnesses. Started in memory of Heather Williams, a girl who died of leukemia, the festival’s events (including a vintage car show) all raise funds for St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital and, with other similar fundraisers in the state, bring in about $400,000 a year. The current Honey Bee queen is another Heather, 19 year-old Heather Gonzalez. Among her activities since her October crowning, she attended attended the Festival of the Bonfires (where she had her face painted in honeybee pride), and the Westwego Festival, where she met local mascot Mr. Ray
--an inflatable fireman with a real person inside--and clowned around with visiting royalty, pretending to save her banner from the jaws of an alligator with the St. James Parish, French Food, St. John Sugar, Orange, and Strawberry queens.