Monroe crowned Queen of Cashmere
By Mikaila Wilkerson
Rhiannon Strutzel, Reilly Schoening, Dani Monroe and Carley Kruiswyk, the four candidates for this year's Cashmere Royalty Pageant, waited eagerly as the final results of the night of the competition were revealed on Sunday, February 26.
Decorative purses and handbags dangled down from the ceiling above the stage as a roar of applause filled the auditorium as Dani Monroe was crowned the 2017 Queen of Cashmere.
Monroe stood happily beside her equally excited three Princesses Carley Kruiswyk, Rhiannon Strutzel and Reilly Schoening.
"They're all going to be great representatives," Sheila Hemstrom said.
This year's pageant had the theme 'Girls Just Wanna Have Fun', which the girls had to elaborate on in explaining what that theme meant to them.
Judges for this year's pageant included Craig Field, Amber Bollinger and Susan Lagsdin.
A huge portion of how the girls were to be judged went into their interviews with the judges and also on their stage presence.
"I hope to see all four of those girls on the float because they all deserve to be representatives," Kris Reinhart said.
To start off the night, both this year's contestants and last year's crowned royalty were brought out and introduced.
Strutzel, who plans on attending Central Washington University to become a teacher, sang and played 'Your Song' by Elton John on her guitar for her talent.
Kruiswyk, who wants to become a dental hygienist, showcased her talent by playing Adele's 'Someone Like You' song on a piano.
Monroe, who wants to be a missionary, brought a few children onstage to guide them as they decorated cakes, showcasing her talents as a teacher.
Schoening, who wants to go to college to pursue Education, sang and danced to Debbie Reynolds' 'Good Morning' from Singin' In The Rain in honor of the recently deceased actress to show her talent.
When asked what 'Girls Just Wanna Have Fun' means to them, these were the girls' responses:
Strutzel, "I've had so many fond memories throughout my life here in Cashmere. The people that I've had support and surround me are irreplaceable and I could not have asked for better. 'Girls Just Wanna Have Fun' was much easier to write about when I thought about my memories with them."
Growing up, Strutzel and her older sister always loved to go watch the Cashmere parade and smile and wave at the Cashmere Royalty as they went by. Afterwards, they loved taking part in the Ping Pong Ball drop event where a helicopter would release many ping pong balls and kids would collect them and turn them in for prizes.
Strutzel also has very fond, fun memories of spending time with her family in a cabin at Fish Lake.
"My cousins, my sister and I would go up to the big room we shared and play cards until we got in trouble for staying up too late," Strutzel said.
Her friends and family, and the memories that she has with them, are also a big part of her having such fun experiences.
"These are only a few of the events I remember when I think of the theme 'Girls Just Wanna Have Fun'," Strutzel said.
Monroe, "When I thought about that, I realized that true happiness is fun. When I help people, I'm truly happy."
During the summer of 2016, Monroe went to Costa Rica for a mission trip. While there, she and some others got to go help out in an school classroom and have fun with the kids.
"The laughter that came from the kids, whilst jumping around and popping bubbles, was priceless," Monroe said.
According to Monroe, not even the fact that they couldn't understand the language at times could stop them from having an overall good time.
"I find that same happiness in my community," Monroe said.
While working within her church, Monroe helps to care for the younger kids and have fun with them.
"So if true happiness really does come from making others happy, this girl is going to have a lifetime full of it," Monroe said.
Kruiswyk, "Growing up in Cashmere, the heart of Washington, has given me a childhood full of fun and adventure."
Having grown up with three brothers, Kruiswyk said life has always been exciting and 'very rarely quiet'.
Kruiswyk and her siblings always enjoyed doing outdoor, recreational activities and taking road trips to go explore new places.
"Despite all our travels, I must truly say there's no place like home," Kruiswyk said.
According to Kruiswyk, she has learned throughout life to make the most out of whatever she has got. She has especially learned this valuable lesson from her 91-year-old grandmother who has been a great example to her.
"She's been an amazing woman in my life and I look up to her a lot," Kruiswyk said.
Kruiswyk is also very fond of the grand festivals around town and how much fun and excitement they offer to the community, especially the Founder's Day celebration.
"I'm looking forward to the opportunity of being an Ambassador for Cashmere," Kruiswyk said. "I know that it's possible to have fun while still being responsible, successful, hardworking, caring and giving."
Schoening, "Girls just want to have fun, and I am no exception. The theme for this year's pageant caused me to thoughtfully reflect on what makes life fun for me."
According to Schoening, her family spends a lot of time together and they love to do movie nights, whether it's at home or at a theater.
"In my life, spending time with the ones I love is my idea of fun," Schoening said.
One of the best traditions Schoening said her family does is go to Brian's Pizza and have a birthday party there at least once a year.
Having grown up in Cashmere, some of the best afternoons for Schoening were getting ice cream and milkshakes from Doane's or getting a maple bar from the Sure to Rise Bakery.
"All of these are memories I've created that I'll cherish forever because they were made with my family," Schoening said.
The 'Outstanding Speaker', 'Outstanding Talent' and 'Academic' Awards were all given to Schoening that night.
Both Schoening and Strutzel were named this year's 'Miss Congenialities'.
During the pageant, a small segment from the upcoming 6th grade play 'Flower Power' called 'Makin' it happen' was performed by three young kids. This play is to be put on March 29 and 30.
Near the end of the night a video slideshow was put on, showing what all 2016's Royalty girls got to do during their reign and memories that they all shared together.
Last year's Royal ladies gave their final 'thank you' and 'farewells', marking the end of their reign and the start of a new one.
Mikaila Wilkerson can be reached at email@example.com