No tour bus, no industry visits this year due
to COVID did not mean no Strawberry Festival City Tour.
The 83rd West Tennessee Strawberry Festival kicked off last Saturday with the first event of the year. The City Tour usually takes place in mid-April but this year’s version came early. Saturday was not the typical version but a fun day nonetheless.
The Strawberry Festival City Tour included members of the six festival royalties, festival officials, mayor and chamber representatives, photographer and some of the mothers of royalty girls. It begins at the Humboldt Chamber of Commerce and/or Humboldt City Hall for breakfast and then the group loads onto a bus to visit Humboldt industries and businesses and includes lunch with the Rotary Club of Humboldt.
This year, due to COVID, the tour had to be watered down. Industries have to follow guidelines that would not allow for a group of 20 or more tour their facilities. Even riding on a bus would be an issue with social distancing.
Strawberry Festival President Betty Langley and General Chairman Sherry Jo Smith, along with Humboldt Chamber of Commerce Events Coordinator Beth Culpepper and Executive Director Amanda Love came up with an alternative plan.
These ladies knew something had to be done. After all, the girls in the royalties missed out on having a festival in 2020. With all the royalty courts and festival officials carrying over for the 2021 festival, it was important to have the City Tour, even if it had to be downsized. So that was exactly what was planned.
Since there was no bus tour, the City Tour became a walking tour of downtown Humboldt.
Saturday, all involved met at the Chamber of Commerce and enjoyed breakfast upstairs in the West Tennessee Regional Art Center. President Langley welcomed everyone and briefly went over the day’s itinerary. She introduced General Chairman Smith, chamber’s Love and Culpepper, Mayor Marvin Sikes and photographer Danny Wade. She then introduced the royalty queens and those in their court who were present. Attending the tour were Hostess Princess Brooklyn Smith, along with two members of her court, 1st Maid Haley Beth Hill and 4th Maid Addison Graves; Jr. Hostess Princess Makayla Murphy; Territorial Queen Alexia Allen with her 4th Maid Sydney Pate; Miss Teen Territorial Dani Dyer; Jr. Miss Territorial Anna Laura Bell; and Little Miss Territorial Farrah McDurmon.
Each of the royalty ladies received a strawberry swag bag with goodies from Humboldt businesses and industries. There were even gifts for the moms.
Mayor Sikes welcomed the group and talked about how well-represented Humboldt is by this group of young ladies. He said COVID changed everything last year and that it is still affecting things, including the Strawberry Festival.
Mayor Sikes then handed out gifts to each of the royalty on behalf of the city of Humboldt. Each girl received a strawberry necklace.
But the best gift for the queens was something new this year. Each one received their very own Strawberry Festival pageant sash. The queens were so surprised with joy. Each queen was brought to the front of the room and presented with their sash to wear.
Since there was no bus tour, the group left the art center and headed across the street for their second stop of the day at Laura Giles Art Studio. Giles planned a paint party for all the royalty. The project was painting a strawberry.
Giles prepared the canvases with an outline of a strawberry. Each girl picked out their own background color, then painted the red portion of the berry and the leafy green cap. This was such fun for these young artists. They concentrated on making their work of art the very best it could be.
Giles then showed them how to use darker and lighter colors for light and for shadowing to make their paintings come to life.
After about an hour and a half, the paintings were completed and signed.
The next stop on the tour was visiting businesses downtown, such as City Gift, Main Boutique and others. Girls and moms browsed and shopped.
After a full morning, it was time to make a pit stop for lunch. Everyone received Chamber Bucks vouchers to enjoy lunch at any of the three downtown restaurants, Milano’s Pizza, Mi Casita or The Coffee Shop.
Even though it was not the full day of visiting other locations around the city, the City Tour was still a hit for these young ladies as ambassadors for the Strawberry City. There were laughs and smiles throughout the day and lots of photo opps all day long.
The old saying, “When life gives you lemon, make lemonade” certainly was the case last Saturday. The tangiest, sweetest strawberry lemonade was made during the 2021 Strawberry Festival City Tour. Kudos to Langley, Smith, Love and Culpepper for making this a day these Strawberry Festival royalty young ladies and their moms will never forget.
See you at the festival May 3-8.