By Laurelle Walsh
Three Methow Valley high school seniors will be decked out in sparkling tiaras, embroidered sashes and old-fashioned finery for this weekend’s ’49er Days celebration.
Queen Vanessa Smith and princesses Lily Darwood and Katherine Tannehill will visit the parade entrants lined up at the staging area on Saturday morning (May 10), and then roll through town aboard Claude Miller’s buckboard. After the parade, the young ladies will participate in the contests at Sheri’s Sweet Shoppe and greet the public at the Washington Outfitters and Guides encampment at the Winthrop town park.
The trio have already taken time out of their busy final months of high school to promote the event. “This year we’re encouraging people to get involved in the parade by dressing up in their best sparkly belt or cowboy hat or whatever they might have,” said Darwood.
Darwood and the other junior royalty have spoken to both towns’ chambers of commerce, and sold official ’49er Days buttons to “help pay for our dresses,” Darwood said.
Although somewhat uncomfortable with the full skirt and petticoat handmade for her by ’49er Days committee member Donna Martin, Darwood appears to enjoy her new role, telling Twisp chamber members at a recent luncheon meeting, “I look good in my dress.”
Smith told chamber members, “Last year I was thinking about trying out, and I’m so glad I finally did it. I’ve always been kind of a shy person, and this is a way to get myself to break out of my box.”
Tannehill told the chamber that being a member of ’49ers royalty is “fulfilling a childhood dream. When I was a little girl, I’d go to the rodeo and the parades and just stare at the queens — I was in awe of them.”
All three girls said they recognize the importance of getting involved in the community and hopefully inspiring others to get more involved as well.
“I wanted to find something I could do to be more involved in the community before leaving for college in Hawaii,” said Darwood, a student at the Independent Learning Center. “It’s also good practice for interviewing and public speaking,” she added.
Tannehill, a Key Club and National Honor Society member, said she’s most excited “to walk around after the parade and just talk to people.” She recently sent in a letter of intent to the University of Puget Sound, and hopes to discover her major after she begins her studies in the fall.
Smith, who has focused on art classes at Liberty Bell — ceramics, photography and welding to name a few — is planning to continue her welding studies at Bellingham Technical College, and “make a successful career out of it.”
Although she describes herself as “kind of shy,” Smith predicts that her favorite part of the weekend will happen after the parade on Saturday. “There will be so many people I will get to meet … I want to talk to everyone in a way that they will say, ‘Oh, I remember that girl from ’49er Days last year. She was so nice and had all sorts of things to say.’”