2011 IRF queen, Andre Elizabeth Lyons, enjoys her reign

By: Angela Becnel - Staff Writer
CROWLEY - On October 16, 2010, Andre’ Lyons was on stage competing for the title of International Rice Festival (IRF) queen. She modeled her formal gown for the judges and answered the judges’ questions.

“I was nervous. There were cameras flashing everywhere,” said Andre’.

She was eventually selected out of five contestants to be the 2011 International Rice Festival queen.

“It was a day I will never forget,” she said.

Andre’ Elizabeth Lyons was born June 17, 1992 in Crowley. She is the daughter of Marcy and Felicia Lyons of Crowley. She has two sisters, Samantha, a 15-year-old sophomore at Notre Dame and Olivia, a 14-year-old eighth grade student at St. Francis in Iota.

Their paternal grandparents are Alberta and Marcy Lyons Sr. of Crowley. Their maternal grandparents are the late L.J. and Connie Miller.

Andre’, who graduated from Notre Dame in 2010, currently attends LSUE. She is in her second year majoring in nursing.

“Representing the International Rice Festival awarded me scholarship money to go toward my education,” said Andre’. “The title also offers job opportunities and contacts. Being the International Rice Festival queen has been fun, yet it is an important job to represent the rice industry, the festival, the individuals and the groups of people who work so hard to produce the rice festival experience. It means so much to me.”

Andre’ said that her reign has helped to build her in many ways. She has improved her public speaking skills, for example.

“There is a high commitment level that goes along with the reign.”

To other young ladies interested in competing for a crown, Andre’ adds, “The role of festival queen is not just another pretty face. Most people do not understand pageants, or what goes on underneath the festival. To see it through a queen’s eyes is amazing.”

Andre’ grew up playing sports. Her hobbies include helping her sisters with sports, hanging out with her family and spending time with her friends.

“Even before becoming queen, I have always loved pageants and attending various festivals,” said Andre’. “ My entire family loves the German Festival because my ancestors came from Germany. My Oma (grandmother in German) loves the ‘chicken dance’ and I love the sugar cookies. It’s like a huge family reunion for us.”

An exciting major event for Andre’ was attending the Mystic Krewe of Louisianians Washington Mardi Gras Ball.

“It was the most amazing experience being treated like royalty and being presented in my train and mantle to represent the International Rice Festival,’ said Andre’. “I met influential people such as Governor and Mrs. Jindal and Congressman Charles Boustany. I was with close friends that I had made over the past year, and festival board members Jay Suire and Mayor Greg Jones.”

They rode in a limousine to tour Washington, D.C. at night, all lit up.

“The town really came alive,” recalled Andre’. “But with all we had done, all the traveling, touring and events, I was so tired I fell asleep in the limo on the way home.”

Additionally, she enjoyed the Strawberry Festival.

“It is a quiet, but big festival which so many people in the Pontchatoula area plan for and look forward to.”

She has also enjoyed various grand openings and various Chamber of Commerce events such as the Gumbo Cook Off and Business After Hours.

“I love taking photos with kids at the different festivals,” said Andre’. “They get so excited.”

Andre’ attended the Floral Trail 75th Coronation of the new queen in New Orleans.

“We paraded around New Orleans in buggies and threw flowers,” she said.

She also traveled to Maui, Hawaii to represent the IRF at the Rice Millers Association Convention. Among the other attendees were Bill and Debbie Dore, John and Joan Morgan, Molly and Bobby Hanks (Rice Millers Association president), Christine and Dwayne Fulton and Jennifer and Robbie Trahan.

The 75th International Rice Festival will be held in downtown Crowley October 20-22, 2011.

Friday, October 21st, is recognized as “children’s day.” Special events include the official opening of the festival by the IRF president, the crowning of the junior king and queen, a rice and creole cookery contest, a rice eating contest and the children’s parade.

Saturday, October 22 is the presentation of candidates for the IRF queen. A demonstration of old style rice threshing is held on the grounds of First Baptist Church. The 5K fun run, Acadian accordian contest, fiddle contest, rice poker run and car show all take place Saturday morning. Music continues in the afternoon with bands on two stages, as well as the Grand Parade.

“It has been an honor to represent our state and to represent the hardworking people in the rice industry.” Andre’ is quick to point out that pageants boost confidence and self-esteem.

“But you have to have guts and the will to get people to see who you are, not just what you look like,” she said. “Because deep down, there is so much more. That, I will have the rest of my life.”

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