Dedicated to the citizens of Mason County, Washington since 1886

Forest Festival Court crowned

80th annual Forest Festival is May 30-June 2

A quintet of teens Saturday evening were crowned the new members of the Mason County Forest Festival Royalty Court at the Shelton High School Performing Arts Center.

Shelton High School senior Lindsey Ozuna Uriostegui is the new Queen of the Forest, and Shelton High School senior Ben Watkins is Paul Bunyan. Cedar High School junior Jasmine Mejia is Princess of Hemlock, Shelton High School junior Kodee Galloway is Princess of Douglas Fir and Shelton High School senior Orre Leggett is Timber the Axe Man.

Eight students from Shelton, Cedar and North Mason high schools competed for the honor. Shelton High School senior Filesi Tausa earned the Spirit Award from her fellow contestants, and the award for best essay from the judges.

For two of the new court members, Forest Festival royalty runs in the family. Watkins' mother Lori was a princess in 1989, and his grandmother was a Queen of the Forest. Leggett's mother Lisa was also a princess in the early 1990s and her grandmother a queen in 1976.

The festival organizers received more than 800 entries from students in grades three through 12 for the button art contest. Cedar High School sophomore Madeline Trimble created the winning art.

The festival organizers brought back this year the Junior Royalty Court for students in grades six through eight. Each student was required to write an essay about what Forest Festival means to them. Autumn Stevens, Caroline Cooper and Emilene McFarland were selected, and they will participate with the royalty court in the Paul Bunyan Grand Parade.

The judges at the contest were Mick Sprouffske, president of the Mason County Forest Festival board; Denis Leverich, the MCFF scholarship chair; Patti Case, retired from Simpson Timber/Green Diamond Resources; Rebecca Bonneville, chair of the North Mason Chamber of Commerce board of directors; and Mendy Harlow, executive director of the Hood Canal Salmon Center.

In her questionnaire responses for the pageant, Ozuna Uriostegui wrote that she plans to pursue a bachelor's degree in health care administration.

"My goal is to find innovative ways to not only increase overall satisfaction with health care, but to find ways of reaching underrepresented communities that don't have access to health care yet."

Each contestant was also asked why they should be a royalty member.

"I value community," Ozuna Uriostegui wrote. "Being a first-generation Mexican-American, my parents were not able to spend much time with me growing up because they had to work. The communities they found through school, clubs and sports shaped me. If I get the opportunity to become a royal member, I will make sure that everyone who is part of Mason County feels valued and seen. Finding a welcoming community can often be the first step in finding your authentic self!"

Galloway said her post- high-school plan is to earn an associate of arts degree in general studies while attending college courses to be a dental hygienist.

"I would like the opportunity to represent and be an active part in my community," she wrote. "I would like to give back to my community and local schools by representing the Forest Festival court as a positive figure."

Leggett said he plans to major in art and design at a four-year college.

"I should be a royalty member because I am a hard worker, have drive, and I want to show my love for Mason County and its traditions," he wrote. "Plus, it would make me third-generation royalty!"

Mejia said she wants to be an environmental engineer, "to be an inspiration to others, and to continue the legacy of Paul Bunyan and Babe."

Watkins said he plans to attend a four-year university.

"I love Mason County," he wrote. "I would be a good role model for kids."

"Believe in Bunyan & Babe" is the theme of the 80th annual Forest Festival.

Author Bio

Gordon Weeks, Reporter

Shelton-Mason County Journal & Belfair Herald


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