Lakefair change expands role of queen

This Saturday another community tradition will come to an end.

Olympia’s long-running summer festival, Capital Lakefair, will break with tradition and crown the festival’s queen months before South Sounders gather to consume guilty-pleasure fair foods, carnival rides and take in the grand parade and fireworks that punctuate summer.

This is a big change for the 55-year-old festival.

Choosing the new Lakefair queen has been a traditional highlight of the July festival for many families and friends of the queen candidates.

The coronation ceremony, part of Lakefair’s scholarship program, always featured a unique announcement from air, sea or land of the queen. In the past, how the announcement was made was almost as exciting as who would be named queen.

But the schedule change is needed.

A February coronation will allow the 2013 Lakefair court to represent our community at more than a dozen other festivals around the northwest region throughout the whole year, instead of just the last half of the year.

And the new date will allow the Lakefair court to spend more time on community service projects instead of competing for the additional scholarship money that comes with becoming queen.

The schedule change means that community will likely miss opportunities be inspired by the queen candidates as part of the three-month long judging process used in the past.

The Lakefair court spoke at 13 different service clubs last year. Candidate speeches often cover hardships and triumphs, faith and family, hopes and aspiration, and demonstrate the high caliber of young people in our community.

We can look for other changes coming from Lakefair organizers in the future as well.

Like most community-based organizations, Lakefair is looking for efficiencies in their use of resources and volunteers, while remaining a compelling and competitive family-friendly community event.

Since 1957, Capital Lakefair has provided more than $350,000 in scholarships to young women. The festival has also helped raise more than $4 million for the community through the nonprofit food vendors that provide people’s favorite fair food each year.

But the community has changed significantly since 1957. The incorporation of the City of Lacey (1966), the dedication of The Evergreen State College (1971), and the opening of Capital Mall (1978) have shaped a different community than the one the original Lakefair organizers faced.

Changing the coronation date is just another step in the process to keep Lakefair and other similar festivals an enduring part of the community.

We welcome the change and wish the queen candidates all the best tomorrow, regardless of who wears the crown.