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WTSF City Tour takes new look

No tour bus, no industry visits this year due
to COVID did not mean no Strawberry Festival City Tour.

PAINT PARTY – Strawberry royalty show off their artwork they painted during a paint party at Laura Giles Art Studio last Saturday morning. Artists are (front row from left) Junior Hostess Princess Makayla Murphy, Little Miss Territorial Queen Farrah McDurmon and Jr. Miss Territorial Queen Anna Laura Bell; (back row) Miss Teen Territorial Queen Dani Dyer, Territorial 4th Maid Sydney Pate, Hostess Princess 4th Maid Addison Graves, Hostess Princess 1st Maid Haley Beth Hill, Hostess Princess Brooklyn Smith, Territorial Queen Alexia Allen and artist/studio owner Laura Giles.

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.

STRAWBERRY OFFICIALS – The Strawberry Festival City Tour had to be watered down due to COVID but was still a hit for those attending. Enjoying the first stop on the tour having breakfast in the West Tennessee Regional Art Center are (from left) General Chairman Sherry Jo Smith, Territorial Queen Alexia Allen, Mayor Marvin Sikes, Hostess Princess Brooklyn Smith and President Betty Langley.

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.

YOUNG ARTIST – Little Miss Territorial Queen Farrah McDurmon brushes on red paint for the strawberry.

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.

GETTING STARTED – Miss Teen Territorial Queen Dani Dyer is ready to begin painting her strawberry as studio owner Laura Giles puts different color paints on her palette.

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.

SWAG BAGS – Royalty attending the Strawberry Festival City Tour show off the gift swag bags from the Humboldt Chamber of Commerce filled with Humboldt products. They are (front row from left) Little Miss Territorial Queen Farrah McDurmon, Junior Hostess Princess Makayla Murphy and Jr. Miss Territorial Queen Anna Laura Bell; (back row) Hostess Princess 4th Maid Addison Graves, Hostess Princess 1st Maid Haley Beth Hill, Hostess Princess Brooklyn Smith, Territorial Queen Alexia Allen, Miss Teen Territorial Queen Dani Dyer and Territorial 4th Maid Sydney Pate.

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.

SIGNING HER WORK – Territorial 4th Maid Sydney Pate signs her work of art as the final step of her strawberry painting.

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.

PAINTING BERRIES – Anna Laura Bell brushes on the background color as the first step of their paintings.

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.

CITY GIFT VISIT – The group visited businesses downtown during Saturday’s trour including City Gift. They also enjoyed lunch and got to pick between The Coffee Shop, Mi Casita or Milano’s Pizza.

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