Johnson to relinquish crown Saturday
Shrimp and Petroleum Festival Queen Paige Johnson
Editor’s Note: The following is a farewell letter penned by Louisiana Shrimp and Petroleum Festival Queen Paige Johnson. Johnson will relinquish her crown during a 7:30 p.m. Aug. 23 coronation at the Morgan City Municipal Auditorium.
“If you are from Morgan City, Berwick or Patterson, Labor Day weekend is something that you look forward to all year long because our small town shows its big personality during the Louisiana Shrimp and Petroleum Festival. Just as many others, I have always looked forward to the Shrimp and Petroleum Festival ever since I was a little girl. I have always enjoyed watching the coronation pageant and have participated in it as a page and several times as a dancer. I have always looked forward to being a part of the Shrimp and Petroleum Festival, but little did I know, my ultimate dream would come true when I was crowned as the 78th Louisiana Shrimp and Petroleum Festival queen one year ago.
“After I was crowned, I knew my year would be very exciting and busy, but I never knew that this year would change my life. Throughout my year, I have heard several times that you have never really seen all that Louisiana has to offer until you’ve seen it through the eyes of a festival queen. This statement could not be more accurate. This year, I have traveled to over 60 events while representing the Festival, and I have loved every minute of it. My year was full of adventure in celebrating and discovering our culture in Louisiana. It is truly an honor to have been given the opportunity to reign as ‘Queen 78’ and to travel the state promoting the oldest state-chartered harvest festival.
“My reign began with my festival weekend, where I had the privilege to participate in all the activities and traditions of our festival. I could not have asked for a better festival weekend or a better king and royal court to celebrate it with. The weekend after my festival, I started traveling across Louisiana. I attended the Plaquemine’s Parish Fair and Orange Festival and Queen Selection, where I had the opportunity to pick oranges in the orchards. I watched the crowning of the new queens of the Cattle Festival, Sugarcane Festival, Cotton Festival, Rice Festival and many others. I attended the Bridge City Gumbo Festival, where I’ve tasted the most amazing gumbo, and in Lutcher, I learned how the Bonfire Festival lights the way for St. Nick every year.
“At the Louisiana Association of Fairs and Festivals Convention in Baton Rouge, I participated in several events and watched one of my best friends get crowned as the Queen of Queens. Later, I attended the Mystick Krewe of Louisianians Mardi Gras Ball in Washington, D.C., which was an experience like no other. I toured many monuments and attended several events with numerous politicians in D.C., and I was presented every night in front of a room packed full of people, who cheered and yelled for our Louisiana Shrimp and Petroleum Festival.
“In Amite, I learned how to shuck oysters before the Oyster Gala, and in Ponchatoula, I learned how to pick the sweetest strawberries in the fields. For the Breaux Bridge Crawfish Festival Pageant, I was taught how to crawfish by the Crawfish queen herself. For the Gonzales Jambalaya Festival Pageant and day events, we were taught how to make the perfect jambalaya in our mini pots by the Jambalaya Champ of Champs. Also, I participated in the Greater New Orleans Floral Trail events, where we attended Mass at St. Louis Cathedral and rode in a parade around the French Quarter, throwing flowers from our horse-drawn carriages.
“I had several once-in-a-lifetime opportunities this year, such as being presented on the field before a Zephyrs baseball game and a VooDoo football game. Additionally, I was featured in the La Fete Magazine with many other festival queens. In What Now Magazine, I had the honor of being on the cover and in the article; I explained why the Shrimp and Petroleum Festival is so special and unique.
“To my successor, this will be a year that you will never forget and an experience of a lifetime. There’s nothing better than being the Louisiana Shrimp and Petroleum Festival queen, so enjoy every moment. People from not only around Louisiana but also people from around the country recognize our festival, so always wear your crown proudly everywhere you go. You may get busy with school or other activities, but travel as much as you can. You are only queen once, so make the best of it by going to as many events as you can, by meeting new people and making as many friends as possible, and by always sharing your enthusiasm and knowledge of the Shrimp and Petroleum Festival. Your year will go by quickly, but it is certainly the best year of your life.
“Looking back on my year, I have done things I’ve never dreamed of doing and have visited places that I never knew even existed. Also, I have met the most incredible people who will be lifelong friends.
“I am honored to have served as your ‘78th Queen’ and I am proud to show others that although we may be a small town, we have a big personality. I am extremely proud to represent Morgan City, Berwick and Patterson and the Louisiana Shrimp and Petroleum Festival, and I am tremendously grateful for the opportunity to be the Louisiana Shrimp and Petroleum Festival Queen LXXVIII.”