Rhododendron Festival royalty takes stage for coronation

Patrick J. Sullivan psullivan@ptleader.com
Posted 2/28/17

It's literally a "dream come true" for the 82nd Rhododendron Festival royalty candidates who take the stage Saturday night, with one to become queen and the other two to serve as princesses.

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Rhododendron Festival royalty takes stage for coronation


It's literally a "dream come true" for the 82nd Rhododendron Festival royalty candidates who take the stage Saturday night, with one to become queen and the other two to serve as princesses.

The royalty candidates are Lauren Montgomery, a senior at Chimacum High School, and Sara Smith and Taylor Tracer, both juniors at Port Townsend High School. All three have grown up with Rhody Fest connections: a parent and/or siblings who have been festival royalty.

The coronation program takes place at 6 p.m., Saturday, March 4 at the Chimacum High School auditorium. Tickets, $5, are sold at the door. Mark McCready is the program host.

Four other sets of festival royalty are also to be crowned Saturday.

Junior royalty (first-graders) are Amber Thompson from Quilcene Elementary, and Levi LaFollette and Hope Quinn from Grant Street Elementary; and Madelyn Apeland, Justus Tyrrell and Landon Bergen from Chimacum Creek Primary.

Queen's Court (middle school) are Kaylee Krajewski and Mary Neville from Blue Heron School, and Charlotte Falge from the OCEAN program.

Tri-Area Senior Association royalty are Penny Dietz and Walter Russell. Port Townsend Senior Association royalty are Mary and David Crozier.

The royalty's first appearance is at a fundraising dessert auction from 1 to 4 p.m., Saturday, March 18 at the Port Townsend Masonic Hall, 1338 Jefferson.

The Rhododendron Festival Association is a nonprofit organization that supports Jefferson County’s oldest community festival, named for Washington’s state flower. The 82nd festival takes place May 17-20 with the theme "Enchanted Rhody." The queen and princesses represent the festival, and Jefferson County, at parades and festivals in two states.

Rhody royalty is chosen based on scoring in four categories: public speaking engagements (30 percent), judges’ interview (30 percent), coronation program performance (25 percent) and candidate coordinators (15 percent). Royalty members who successfully complete their duties receive scholarships: $1,500 for the queen, $1,000 each for princesses.

Saturday is the last time on stage for the outgoing 2016 royalty: Queen Fiona Shaffer and Princesses Eryn Reierson and Kayla Calhoun.

When the candidates were announced in January, Shaffer told the trio she has been "forever changed" by the experience. She said the Rhody Fest volunteers are supportive, there are many friendships to be made along the parade circuit and, on the long car rides to and from festivals, "Don't put in our headphones. You want to talk and enjoy the moment," Shaffer said.


Applications for the Rhody Grand Parade are due May 6 for the parade, which starts at 1 p.m., Saturday, May 20. Commercial entries (those that represent a business or corporation or any entry displaying or advertising a business or corporation) or political candidates running for office this year are required to pay a $100 fee. Check



Rhody volunteers are always welcome; sponsors are needed for the festival's weekly events. Learn how to get involved at

rhodyfestival.org. Parade-day volunteers specifically should email


Rhody Festival week is capped by the Jefferson Healthcare Rhody Run XXXIX on Sunday, May 21; register at



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