Queen Allison continues West Linn's storied tradition
Allison Ingles 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 Linns 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 years 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. Shes an amazing person and really helped me through the process, telling me whats to to be expected and helping me through it, Ingle said. Ive met a lot of past queens now and they are all great mentors.
West Linns 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 shes continued to come to the Fair since her coronation in large part because it remains the Citys 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. Theres a lot that goes on behind the scenes, and Im very thankful because it really is special.
Larson said shes increasingly impressed with the stage presence and confidence the group of princesses display every year, noting that its just another example of how the coronation has evolved over the years. Deeb, meanwhile, said her reign as West Linns 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. Theyre 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 thats one of the big differences thats 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 its definitely helped with confidence and being able to interact with people without knowing them.
Queen Allison, who will be a freshman at West Linn High School next year, will spend the coming year mentoring next years princesses while completing community service projects around town. Deeb, meanwhile, said shes enjoyed her time as Queen so much that shell continue to mentor those that seek West Linns annual throne as well.
In many ways West Linns 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 Fairs 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 (Allisons) reaction because I was in shock when they called my name. It was a great feeling.