By Sarah Naron

Messenger Reporter

LOVELADY – Six young ladies were selected by their peers to represent grades seven through 12 at Lovelady ISD during the 36th annual Lovelady Lovefest Coronation set to take place in the Lovelady High School Gymnasium at 7 p.m. Thursday, Feb. 8.

Each of the girls selected from the ninth through 12 grades will be vying for the 2018 title of Lovefest Queen. The contestants are judged on an essay they submit and a speech presented at the school prior to the coronation.

This year’s queen will be crowned by the reigning Lovefest Queen, 16-year-old Lovelady High School junior Haley Pitts, the daughter of Brandon and Hilary Pitts.

Pitts was the 2017 sophomore princess.

“My favorite part about Lovefest would probably be all the excitement and just how the community gets together and gets to share these moments together,” Pitts said.

“I just did the best I possibly could,” said Pitts when asked what she believed made her the best candidate to take home the crown during the 2017 competition.

Pitts also had a few words of advice for the girls competing to take her place.

“Have all confidence,” she encouraged. “Give the best speech you could possibly give, and write the best essay. Don’t be nervous.

“They’ve got this,” she said confidently. “They really do.”

Following her time at LLHS, Pitts aspires to attend Sam Houston State University before transferring to Texas A&M University to major in orthodontics.

Representing the senior class is 18-year-old Hannah Burleson, the daughter of Darrell and Cindi Burleson. She will be escorted throughout the coronation by fellow 18-year-old senior Alex McKnight, son of Angie Smith.

“I think it’s really cool to be a part of the tradition,” said Burleson. “When I was little, I was the flower girl, so it’s really cool now, for my senior year, to come back and see it from a different perspective.”

McKnight said his favorite part of being a Lovefest participant is, “I get to dress nice.

“It’s pretty cool being a part of the tradition,” he added.

When asked what she feels makes her a good candidate for Lovefest Queen, Burleson described her selfless reason for competing.

“I really don’t want to do it for me, I want to do it to be able to represent my senior class and all the past queens,” she said.

Burleson explained that the first Lovefest Queen, Lisa Allen, is a close friend of her family.

“I just thought it would be really cool to bring that tradition back and be able to talk to all the old queens and kind of honor them through the possibility of becoming Lovefest Queen this year,” she said.

Burleson has received acceptance to Texas A&M University and will be majoring in accounting with a minor in agriculture economics. Following her time at A&M, she hopes to enroll in law school. McKnight will be attending Sam Houston State University to major in business administration and minor in finance.

Junior class princess is Olivia Wilson, the 17-year-old daughter of Lee and Heather Holsey, who will be escorted by 17-year-old James Cousins, son of Robert and Tammy Cousins.

“I enjoy the tradition that it carries on every year,” said Wilson.

Wilson and Cousins also appeared together in the coronation during their eighth-grade year, when she was elected class princess and he served as her escort.

“I love the food,” Cousins said when asked to identify his favorite part of Lovefest.

After completing high school, Cousins will attend the Angelina College Fire Academy.

“That’s my dream,” said Cousins of becoming a firefighter.

Wilson aspires to become a pediatric nurse, but said she is unsure of where she will be studying.

“I like to speak in front of people, and I like to write essays,” she said when asked what makes her a good queen candidate. “So, I think that kind of makes me eligible for it.”

Representing the sophomore class is 15-year-old princess Chloe Harris, daughter of Shane and Amy Harris and her escort, 16-year-old Logan LeBlanc, who is the son of Paul and Lori LeBlanc.

“The parade’s always really interesting to watch,” said Harris, who is a first-time participant in the Lovefest coronation.

“I like the food,” said LeBlanc. “There’s a lot of food at Lovefest.”

LeBlanc previously served as an escort in a coronation as a junior high student.

“I’m very strong with my words,” said Harris when asked what she feels makes her deserving of the title of Lovefest Queen. “I’m an independent person.”

Harris and LeBlanc are still deciding what path they are interested in taking upon graduating from LLHS. LeBlanc mentioned he may pursue a career as a veterinarian.

Erin Sample is representing the freshman class as princess while being escorted by Lane Kellar. Sample, 15, is the daughter of Brian and Tracy Sample, and Kellar is the 15-year-old son of Will and Kari Kellar.

Sample said her favorite part of Lovefest is “just the community coming together.”

Kellar moved to Lovelady in 2017, which was his first time to experience all that Lovefest has to offer.

“It’s just kind of like everybody getting together and spending time together – coming and hanging out and just being together,” he said.

Sample, who is participating in the coronation for the first time, cited her strong community involvement as a reason she deserves the crown.

“I’m a cheerleader, and I play volleyball and softball,” she said. “I help out around (the community).”

Being part of the coronation has been a dream of Sample’s since she was a child.

“I’ve really been looking forward to it,” she said.

After graduation, Sample hopes to attend the University of Texas as a business major. Kellar is unsure of where he would like to attend college, but hopes to study to become a physical therapist or trainer.

Rounding out the 2018 royal court are eighth-grade princess Skylie Brant and escort Bryce Russo, seventh-grade princess Morgan Womack and escort Levi Musick, and Pre-K students Penelope Ramirez and Brody Smith, who will be serving as the flower girl and crown bearer.

Following the crowning of the 2018 Lovefest Queen at the coronation, Lovelady Elementary School students will take the floor to serenade the new queen and her court with musical presentations.

Tickets for the coronation may be purchased at the door on the night of the event at a cost of $4 per adult and $2 per student. Children under the age of four, as well as elementary school students performing during the show, will be admitted free of charge.

For more information on the event, contact Carol Monk or Lisa Allen at 936-636-7636.

Sarah Naron may be reached via email at snaron@messenger-news.com.