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Lebanon's Strawberry Festival faces uncertainty
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Lebanon's Strawberry Festival faces uncertainty

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The Lebanon Strawberry Festival court has been announced for 2021.

The princesses who will serve as festival ambassadors and compete for the honor of Strawberry Festival queen are Alyssa Berg, Annie Latimer, Kimberly O'Hara, Emma Squires and Emma Williams.

While the court is in place, the plans for this year’s festival are still very uncertain. Festival chair Cindy Kerby said the association is working on three separate plans for the festival. Which plan goes into effect will be determined by the public health situation in Oregon this spring.

Kerby said Plan A is to hold a traditional Strawberry Festival with no restrictions on events or attendance.

“If we're realistic, that’s probably not going to happen,” Kerby said.

Plan B is to hold the festival with restrictions in place on the number of guests allowed at Cheadle Lake at any one time. Guests would make reservations to attend the festival for certain periods of time and then leave the grounds to make space for others to attend.

“That plan would take a lot of community commitment to doing what is needed to make it work,” Kerby said.

Plan C is to hold a very limited event, similar to what took place in 2020. The Strawberry Festival Association held a reverse parade, hosted a tour of homes and served strawberry shortcake at Cheadle Lake Park.

Kerby acknowledged that the current outlook for a full public festival in June is grim.

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“I’ve spent a lot of time researching other communities and other events. They’re all cancelling. It kind of takes the optimism away a little bit,” Kerby said. “You feel like you’re in limbo because you don’t know. We’re cautiously planning as much as we can.”

One possibility is to delay the festival for a few weeks in hopes that the situation continues to improve. The Strawberry Festival Association will once again be in charge of the Star Spangled celebration on July 4 and it may be possible to combine the two events at that time.

Kerby said the festival is also looking for ways to promote the local businesses who support the event, perhaps by creating virtual vendors.

Court coordinator Andrea Bruce said that despite the uncertainty about the festival, this year’s princesses are excited to get started. The members of last year’s court adjusted their routine to focus on social media and online videos to promote the festival and the community. The 2021 court is ready to build on those ideas, Bruce said.

“I think the great thing about them being teenagers is they’re so used to being in school where they’re already doing everything with technology that they’re ready to embrace it. They have some great ideas that we didn’t necessarily think of. I think that’s pretty cool,” Bruce said.

The pandemic changed the way this year’s court was selected. The first two rounds of interviews were held online.

“We didn’t meet them in person until the very last interviews,” Bruce said.

Now that the court is in place, the princesses are ready to get started, even if they can’t make the same number of in-person appearances they would in a more normal year.

Bruce said each of the princesses will post a biographical video online. The court members will also read short stories for students online and stop by classroom Zoom sessions to say hello to students.

“We’re obviously open to whatever idea is out there,” Bruce said.

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