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VALLEY VOICES: Royal year yields memorable moments

North Thompson Fall Fair
Santa’s little toy tester, Princess Alyson. (Nancy Chappell photo)

This article originally appeared in a North Thompson Fall Fair special section of the North Thompson Times. It was published on Aug. 26, 1997.

By Nancy Chappell

It’s been a very good year. Despite a few glitches and some strange escorts — nothing that can’t be laughed about already — Miss North Thompson Fall Fair 1996 Nicole Paquin, her Princess Alyson Webber and Miss Congeniality Lynn Shanko can look back on a year to remember with fondness, feeling and a fair amount of amusement.

“We all sang Karaoke for the first time,” said Princess Alyson.

“We sang ‘Stop in the Name of Love,’” added Miss Congeniality Lynn. “We sang it together, it was exciting.”

“And” — most importantly — “no one left,” added Queen Nicole.

The Peachland Pageant was memorable for our North Thompson Royalty as, in that Okanagan community, both sexes compete for titles and the Peachland royal party consists of a female ambassador and vice-ambassador as well as a male ambassador and vice. Depending on the vote, the title of the fifth representative could be either Miss or Mr. Congeniality.

“Peachland people are cool,” enthused Princess Alyson. “Their royalty is cool.”

However, Peachland was also the first time the Barriere royal party experienced escorts.

“Nicole got the tall, dark handsome one. Lynn got the tall, blond, good-looking one,” described Princess Alyson, adding (much less enthusiastically), “and mine was shorter than me.”

As Princess Alyson stands about five-foot nothing, the opinion was expressed that might be hard to do.

“We’ve got pictures to prove it,” insisted Miss C Lynn.

Peachland also provided memorable escort Thor, he of the Viking helmet and braids.

Escorts — those young, and apparently, not-so-young, men — scrounged up to squire visiting royalty around at various pageants, were unforgettable, at times for the wrong reasons.

“He was more interested in the free pizza than Nicole,” put in Miss C Lynn.

Escorts aside, travelling provided its own collection of memorable moments.

…the time Queen Nicole had to hop out of the car along the highway at Vinsulla to retrieve their wayward magnetic sign identifying them as North Thompson royalty when it flew off the door —

…Chaperone Donna Kaiser inviting herself into a complete stranger’s house to iron Alyson’s dress after the exhausted Princess fell asleep in it —

…spending the whole two-hour trip to Salmon Arm preparing and practicing their speech, only to get on stage and have Miss Congeniality Lynn pass the microphone on before they could give it. “She just passed it on. We didn’t get to finish,” her Queen related. “It was like ‘Greetings from Barriere…Next!’” —

…“The worst was the Santa parade in Kamloops,” revealed Queen Nicole. “It was sooo cold.” —

Then there was perhaps unexpected practical aspects that surfaced.

In retrospect, said Princess Alyson, “if I had a dollar for every time I bought a pair of nylons, I could have bought us all gowns and real diamond tiaras. I think we should all wear long gowns and knee-high’s.”

The highlight of the year for Queen Nicole was the evening that made it all possible.

“I liked being crowned before the Fall Fair and being crowned with my best friend,” she said with a fond glance at Miss Congeniality Lynn.

Princess Alyson remembers her participation as the only member of the Royal party in the first-ever Barriere Santa parade as her high point of the past year.

Miss Congeniality Lynn said she felt special as the last person to carry that title, although, “I’d like to crown somebody,” she added wistfully. The title of Miss Congeniality would no longer be filled due to escalating travel costs. A Friendship Award would instead be presented.

As their Royal year enters the home stretch, a certain amount of relief that it’s almost over is also evident.

“We were wannabes, now we’re has beens,” said Princess Alyson. “It’s great. Now my skin will get a break. I’m not sure about this make-up thing.”

“I’m looking forward to not selling 50/50 tickets,” related Queen Nicole.

They are all, however, very much anticipating , with pleasure, the Pageant on Friday evening.

“It’s going to be exciting,” said Miss Congeniality Lynn.

“I’m looking forward to it,” agree Queen Nicole.

“I will not cry at the pageant,” promised Princess Alyson.

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