Sunday the Spokane Lilac Festival will pick its queen and six princesses to represent the Spokane area not only during the festival, but around the Northwest.
Jenifer Eberle, vice president of royalty, said each year the festival invites all Spokane County high schools to select a candidate for the Lilac Court.
In November, the candidates are whittled down to 14 – known as the Fab 14. Since then, the teens have been taking classes in speech, makeup, self-defense, stress management and more. They’ve also spent time doing volunteer work with Blessings under the Bridge, Operation Cookie Drop with Fairchild Air Force Base, Clothe-A-Child with the Salvation Army and the Santa Express.
A large part of the conversation between Eberle and the candidates is “win-win” training. For the seven girls who “spring free” after the coronation, they talk about the positives in that. Eberle said some of them say if they don’t make it, they can participate in track, school plays or other school activities they wouldn’t be able to if they make it to the court. Many of the spring-free girls often come back to talk to the new group of candidates.
Each of the girls has made close friendships with the others. If one friend makes the court, the other can tell herself, “you had something to do with your friend making it,” Eberle said.
Eberle said she knows this from her own experiences. In 1987, she was one of 30 girls at Central Valley who vied for the role of Lilac princess, which was chosen through a different process back then. She didn’t make it, but has great memories.
“I had always wanted to be a Lilac princess,” Eberle said. “I don’t have hard feelings. It was a good experience.”
Helping each other through the selection is part of the teamwork the girls have been emphasizing since they met one another.
Eberle said this year’s speeches during the coronation will be based around the theme, “Together, Each Accomplishes More.” Each candidate selects a gown to wear and delivers a speech during the ceremony they have written. While it’s a big part of the selection process, “what you see at coronation isn’t everything,” Eberle said. This week there is Friends and Family Night and on Saturday, they have interviews with the judges before Sunday’s big ceremony.
“That’s kind of the final 20 percent of what you’re seeing,” Eberle said.