New junior king and queen crowned

An event that drew a large, enthusiastic crowd during the 73rd International Rice Festival was the Junior King and Queen Pageant.

The event was preceded by an official welcome by Tracy Wirtz, Mayor Greg Jones, and Festival Queen Devin Babineaux, and was held on the Cajun Country Rice main stage on Friday morning .

Each of the 36 contestants received a welcome as they were introduced to hundreds of anxious friends and family members.

Judges for the contest included Judy LeBlanc, Renella McDaniel, Sherry Broussard, Michelle Hopkins, Bill Johnson and Gilda McBride.

Contestants included Kaitlyn Doga and Gavin Vidrine, Iota Elementary; Hannah Thibodeaux and Shannon Richard, Estherwood Elementary; Callie Harrington and Grant Suire, St. Michael Elementary; Coden Langley and Caitlyn Woodward, Morse Elementary; Kamryn Franklin and James Vincent, Ross Elementary; Hector Mendez and Mariah Baker, North Crowley Elementary; Alex Barbier and Riley Woodward, Mermentau Elementary; Login Breaux and Autumn Matthews, South Crowley Elementary; Owen Daigle and Elizabeth Habetz, Egan Elementary; Mary Katherine Lavergne and Jake Reiners, Rayne Catholic Elementary; Gage Monceaux and Lauren Hoffpauir, Redemptorist Catholic; Tyler Breaux and Victoria Clay, Evangeline Elementary; Halei Espree and Peyton Francis, Martin Petitjean Elementary; Hannah Henderson and Dax Moore, Branch Elementary; Madison Heins, Denny Reed and Carson Tate, Mire Elementary; Paul Gardiner and Lily Zaunbrecher, St. Francis School; Jaden Gallien and Mallory Joseph, Church Point; Dax Moore and Hannah Henderson, Branch, and Katelyn Young and Denny Reed, Richard Elementary.

As the judges deliberated in order to narrow down the contestants to 18, the crowd was entertained by the International Rice Festival Dance Troupe.

Those called back were Hannah Thibodeaux, Carson Tate, Autum Matthews, James Vincent, Lauren Hoffpauir, Grant Suire, Elizabeth Habetz, Jaden Gallien, Victoria Clay, Owen Daigle, Mary Katherine Lavergne, Jake Reiners, Caitlyn Woodward, Peyton Francis, Elizabeth Habetz, Gavin Vidrine, Caitlyn Woodward, and Shannon Richard.

Following another round of entertainment, the king and queen and their court were announced. Second runners up were Caitlyn Woodward of Morse Elementary and Jadyn of Church Point Elementary. First runners up were Paul Gardiner and Hannah of Estherwood Elememtary. Crowned Junior King and Queen were Gavin Vidrine of Iota Elementary and Mary Katherine Lavergne of Rayne Catholic.

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