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Queen Allison continues West Linn's storied tradition

TIDINGS PHOTO: VERN UYETAKE - Princess Allison Ingle is crowned queen of the 2016 West Linn Old Time Fair, July 15.Allison Ingle’s reaction when she was named West Linn Old Time Fair Queen Friday night was one of disbelief. While she already knew she was one of four finalists, hearing her name over the loudspeaker and having 2015 Queen Bella Deeb place the crown on her head was a “complete shock,” she said.

The West Linn Old Time Fair enjoyed its 60th iteration this year, and though a few nuances with the Queen Coronation have changed after six decades, the pageantry and spirit certainly have not. To add a unique twist to one of West Linn’s oldest traditions, the Fair invited past queens and princesses to enjoy the coronation festivities, bringing a handful of familiar faces to sit beside the main stage in Willamette Park July 11.

Their presence highlighted the community unity West Linn has enjoyed over the years — the same trait that was evident in this year’s group of princesses. Each princess took a turn at the microphone, beginning with Princess Allison, then Princess Emily Swenson, followed by Princess Mikayla Simon and finally Princess Kendall Shanklin. Each made a point to thank those princesses and queens that came before them, many of whom spent time mentoring the quartet of girls throughout the past year.

“Bella was such a great mentor, she was so great. She’s an amazing person and really helped me through the process, telling me what’s to to be expected and helping me through it,” Ingle said. “I’ve met a lot of past queens now and they are all great mentors.”TIDINGS PHOTO: LESLIE PUGMIRE HOLE - Queen Allison Ingle and Princess Mikayla Simon meet a candidate during Sunday's Mutt & Pet Contest, which they helped judge.

West Linn’s 1965 Fair Queen Cheryl Savage Larson was one of those mentors in attendance. She understands better than anyone the hard work the group of girls have put in this past year, and she said she’s continued to come to the Fair since her coronation in large part because it remains the City’s greatest community event.

“I come every single year. It took a lot of people at the very beginning to really make it work and get it off the ground,” Larson recalls. “Now that the City has taken over it has a new look, and a lot of volunteers have given a lot of hours to make everything possible. There’s a lot that goes on behind the scenes, and I’m very thankful because it really is special.”

Larson said she’s increasingly impressed with the stage presence and confidence the group of princesses display every year, noting that it’s just another example of how the coronation has evolved over the years. Deeb, meanwhile, said her reign as West Linn’s representative helped her grow a great deal, boosting her confidence in the process.

Larson agreed. “I was really shy when I was younger and then I blossomed a bit. To get up in front of somebody and get up and talk was really scary. Now these girls seem so poised. They’re in so many sports and different activities that bring that speaking ability out. In ‘65 we were just country kids who lived on farms, so that’s one of the big differences that’s impressed me.”

“Being a princess is an honor in itself and being able to be Queen is kind of that next step,” Deeb said. “It was definitely a lot of hard work, but it was definitely worth it. I think it’s definitely helped with confidence and being able to interact with people without knowing them.”TIDINGS PHOTO: VERN UYETAKE - Queen Allison receives congratulations from Robyn Deeb after her coronation July 15.

Queen Allison, who will be a freshman at West Linn High School next year, will spend the coming year mentoring next year’s princesses while completing community service projects around town. Deeb, meanwhile, said she’s enjoyed her time as Queen so much that she’ll continue to mentor those that seek West Linn’s annual throne as well.

In many ways West Linn’s history of princesses and queens has formed something of a sisterhood, as everyone that has participated in the 60-year tradition knows the hard work and gratification that comes with the experience. And though West Linn will continue to grow and change, the West Linn Old Time Fair’s Queen Coronation is proof that some things will always stay the same.

“I still remember when I was crowned,” Larson said. “I can relate to (Allison’s) reaction because I was in shock when they called my name. It was a great feeling.”

Contact Andrew Kilstrom at 503-636-1281 ext. 112 or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..