The Strawberry Festival

Now, just to warn you, this post WILL be long because so many wonderful events happened this past weekend!  This year was the 53rd Annual Garden Grove Strawberry Festival and it was so much fun!  The theme this year was "Celcbrating the Sweet Sounds of Comedy" and this weekend was full of laughs and fun!  The grand marshals this year were Rico Rodriguez and his sister, Raini Rodriguez.  Raini has appeared in many Disney movies and shows, including her major role in the movie, "Prom".  Rico plays "Manny" in the ABC hit comedy, "Modern Family".  It was such a thrill to meet both of them, especially Rico because I am a HUGE fan of Modern Family!  There were many other celebrities like Anneliese van der Pol from "That's So Raven", Kate Linder from "The Young and the Restless", and oh, what do you know, Miss GG and GG's Outstanding Teen 2011! Yes, Jessica and I are listed on the website as two of the celebrities!  How fun!

I just have to say that this weekend was so magical.  I know, you're probably thinking that's so cliche to say, but it's true.  I have been competing in the Miss GG and Teen pageant since I was 14 and I never won a title until this year.  During the years before this year, I was on the court.  Ya, it was all fun, but none of that compares to what it's like actually being Miss Garden Grove at the Strawberry Festival.  I always "dreamed" about being Miss GG and always wondered what the Strawberry Festival weekend would be like while wearing that beautiful crown.  Now I know, and no part of this weekend let me down.  I knew I had to soak every moment up.  I told myself that no matter how tired and exhausted I was from the long days, I had to enjoy it because this amazing weekend would end to quick.  The Strawberry Festival is the biggest event of the year for GG and I feel so grateful and humbled to know that I was a part of it.

Okay, let's get to business!  Each day was fun-filled and busy!

THURSDAY- Special Kids Day
Thursday was a very special day for very special kids!  Every year, the Strawberry Festival opens a day early for the Special Education kids in Garden Grove and surrounding cities.  This gives all the kids a chance to have the festival to themselves without the long lines and chaos.  It also gives them a chance to just be kids without being judged.  They're allowed to ride the rides and eat lunch for free.  It's been tradition that Miss GG and the Teen is there to hang out with the kids, so Jessica and I got to be a part of this special day!

Jessica and I got to hang out with with seven kids from Rancho Alamitos HS in Garden Grove and they were so much fun!  We got to rides on some rides, like the Grand Carousel, Music Express, Spin Out, and Starship 3000, and the house of mirrors!  GG's Channel 3 got us on camera in this great news report:


I think "Special Kids Day" is important to have because it gives kids a chance to have the festival to themselves and that helps them have the most fun of all!  I am so glad we got to be a part of this important day!
FRIDAY-Tiny Tots and Cake
Friday was another busy day!  Friday was the first day the festival opened, and the festivities definitely began!  One Friday, the Tiny Tot contest took place and I was a judge this year!  I think I about died and went to heaven when I saw all those adorable little ones.  There were newborns, toddlers, and kids under 8. Everyone looked so cute!  It was so hard to choose the overall winner, but we had to.  This year's Tiny Tot King and Queen are Jacob Richard Huntington and Lois Hansen! Jacob was so cute every time he said his name because he wanted the "Richard" in his cute!  And when he won, he came up  to me said, "This is perfect because Richard means 'KING'!" hahaha I laughed so hard.  And the new queen, Lois, is such a sweetheart! Come to find out, I know her mom! Now don't get any funny ideas like the results were fixed or anything, but after she she won, I saw her mom in the audience and realized the resemblance!  I was so excited for the Hansen family!  I guess they came to see me and thought they should just give the contest a try.  Little did they know that three judges would pick their daughter to be Tiny Tot Queen!  I picked Lois because she was very poised and talked to us judges.  She was not shy or scared, she was just herself and that definitely paid off!

Every year, the tiny tot king and queen are in the parade the next day, so we as judges had to choose someone that was ready to be in a parade!  Both Lois and Jacob smiled and waved to us as if they were in the parade.  They were also dressed to the nine's- just what you want to see in a parade!  I was so excited for both of them!

After the contest, I, along with Jessica and our court princesses, made our way to the stage on Main street where GG's tasty tradition takes place every year- cutting the Strawberry Short cake!  Now this cake is not just any old strawberry shortcake, it is the world's largest strawberry shortcake! Every year during the opening ceremonies, the giant cake is cut and served to hundreds of people waiting in line!  It is a LONG line, but it's totally worth it!  Before the cake was cut and served, the celebrities including the new tiny tot king and queen were introduced!  Then the moment every Miss GG should be waiting for happens!  On the top of the cake, there is always a giant strawberry-shaped cake and this is given to the Miss GG of that year.  This year, it was my turn to get this delicious cake!  I have seen many cakes given to Miss GGs throughout the years and this one was particularly huge this year!  It was so heavy!  I got to take this cake home for myself and my friends and family, of course.  There's no way I could ever eat such a large cake!
Being presented with the giant strawberry cake!

Just hangin' out with Rico and Raini biggie :)

After that mini ceremony, the cake cutting and serving began!  Jessica, Valerie, Bree, Ally, Missy, and I served the cake with Mayor Dalton and the tiny tot queen even came up to help!  We served the cake for about 45 mins- that's how much cake there was!  After the last piece was given out, it was time to go home!  My thighs got a good work out from bending up and down multiple times! Gotta keep my legs lookin' good for swimsuit at Miss CA!

SATURDAY- Parade, Elks Lodge, and Karaoke
Saturday was the BIGGEST day of them all!  Thousands of people once again lined the streets to watch the grand Strawberry Festival parade.  All us girls showed up at the Community Center at 8AM for breakfast and we couldn't leave without taking pictures, of course!  I got some pics with the grand marshals and Ed Arnold (I love him, i've known him forever!).  While we were waiting for our shuttle to take us to our float, we had to continue the tradition and get pictures with the handsome policemen!  Then our shuttle picked us up and we got all set up on the float!  Luckily, my dad was able to walk along our float during the parade and get some good shots of us!  

With Lois and Jacob, the new Tiny Tot royalty!

With the one and only, Ed him!

and with Raini and Rico Rodriguez!

gotta get that picture with the policemen!

The parade is always fun to be in and to watch as well! I think we were all on the prettiest float, because, you know, we are the prettiest girls in GG! (that's what someone said on the sidelines...hehe)  The parade starts on the corner of Chapman and Ninth and ends at Acacia and Euclid.  It's a pretty good distance, but it went by so fast!  I tried to soak up everything!  I don't wait to sound arrogant, but I was so excited because it was finally my turn to sit on the top of the float as Miss GG! It was so much fun!  I heard people calling Jessica's name and the names of the other court princesses.  A lot of people knew Missy and Bree!  It's nice being a local GG girl!

After the parade was over, we all went to the VIP luncheon at the Courtyard center.  Jay's Catering provided the food, which was no surprise!  We had yummy sandwiches and giant chocolate covered strawberries!  I forgot to mention that my family came to see me in the parade!  After lunch, I met up with them outside and took pictures. I even got a picture with the amazing Congressman, Ed Royce and even Ronald McDonald! My parents and gparents went home so Keith and I hung out at the festival before my next event.  
 With our District's Congressman, Ed Royce!

 With the family...

 ...and the boyfriend...

...and the people who gave life to me!

After being Miss GG for almost a year, I forget sometimes that I am wearing my crown, kinda like forgetting that your sunglasses are on your head.  So when Keith and I were walking through the parade, families and little girls would just be staring at me and wanted pictures with me.  It was sweet.  Luckily, I brought my autograph pads with me, so I was able to give a lot out to the little ones. After visiting with the little kids, Keith and I went over to Job's Daughter's Strawberry stand where they sell the best strawberry desserts in the world!  I always get the supreme every year...a bowl with ice cream, shortcake, strawberries, and whipped cream.  It is amazing!  You cant say you've been to the strawberry festival until you have eaten Job's Daughter's strawberry treats!
check out: Job's Daughters

with my favorite strawberry bowl!

giving out one of many autographs!

After hanging out with my body guard, I headed on over to the GDD Elk's Lodge booth.   Every year, the Elks sell raffle tickets for a brand new car!  The tickets are a dollar but you can get a better deal if you buy more and all the money goes towards charities and even the Miss GG Organization.  Since some of the money goes towards the Miss GG Org., they want the title holders and princesses to help out at the booth.  I had a shift on Saturday and Sunday.  A lot of people could not believe that they could enter to win a car for only dollar!  But it's true!  The Elks don't raffle off the car until their big Labor Day BBQ, but you don't even have to be present to win!  If you refer back to an earlier post, some one from out of town won and they weren't even there!  We got a lot of good sales this weekend, we just wish more people would believe us when we say that they could win a car for a dollar!

Later on that night was the well-anticipated "Strawberry Idol" Karaoke contest!  I was dubbed as a judge for the night and I was SO excited to hear the talent on stage.  There were a lot of great singers.  Some of them were former contestants like Jennae Duran (GG's Teen 2010) and Sarah Salazar (Miss Tustin 2010).  Both are amazing singers but only one of them made it to the top 5: Jennae.  I was so happy for her, she totally deserved it!  I was surprised that Sarah Salazar did not make it to the top 5 but it was a great turn out overall.  The 2011 Strawberry Idol is....L'Marco Smith!  Come to find out, he is good friends with Rachel St. Marseille (GG's OT 2006)!  Rachel was also in the audience hoping to get called up on stage, but she didn't make it.  But it was no wonder that Rachel and L'Marco are friends, because he is an amazing singer, like Rachel is!!! Congrats, L'Marco!

After Saturday was over, I asked myself, "How did I do all of that in one day?!"  But I also felt so blessed and so grateful for all the wonderful experiences I had so far!

Sunday- Berry Berry Beautiful Baby Contest and 
Miss Garden Grove and Friends Show!
Before the show, the Berry Berry Beautiful Baby Contest took place at the amphitheater  Jessica and I were judges for this event and we were SO excited to see the cute kids!  There were way more kids at this contest than at the Tiny Tot contest.  There were four categories and about 40+ in each one!  There were definitely a lot of babies there!  My heart melted just by looking at all those beautiful babies!
Sunday was another big day during the Festival because Sunday night was the biggest show of the weekend: The Miss Garden Grove and Friends Show!  Every year, the Miss GG Organization puts on a entertaining show in the outdoor amphitheater and it is always a hit!  If you missed the show this year, don't worry because the show happens every year!  Jessica and I couldn't put on a show by ourselves, so we invited many local titleholders to perform with us!

This year, Jessica and I were the hosts of the show (I must say that out of all the talents I have, Emcee-ing is NOT one of them).  Thanks for sitting through my little blips here and there.  About 15 other titleholders came to perform their talents and they were all amazing! 

On stage were:
-Sarah Salazar (Miss Tustin 2010)
-Shelby MacDonald (Miss Cities of San Diego 2011)
-Ally Alex (Miss Fullerton's OT 2011)
-Missy Mendoza (Miss GG Runner up)
-Courtney Trouten (Miss Tustin 2011)
-Bree Morse (Miss GG Runner up)
-Olivia Sichmiller (Miss Ventura's OT 2011)
-Veronica Williams (Miss High Desert 2011)
-Rachel Berry (Miss Orange County 2011)
-Jennae Duran (Miss GG's OT 2010)
-Megan Wisler (Miss Ventura County 2011)
-Valerie Alcaraz (GG Teen Runner up)
-Christina Alcaraz (Miss San Fernando Valley 2011)
-Ryan Osborn (Miss County of San Diego 2011)
-Marina Inserra (Miss San Diego 2011)

Ryan Osborn, Marina Inserra, Rachel Berry, and Courtney Trouten

Jessica and I were able to perform our own talents, and we even performed something together.  I played, "What a Wonderful World" and Jessica danced to it.  We never rehearsed it but we both knew we good enough to do something together, so she just pretty much improv-ed her dance.  It turned out beautifully!  I brought in my best friend, Arthur Wilson to sing a song with me as well.  We both sang the love duet from the Disney movie, "Tangled".  We both dressed up like the characters and we looked pretty good in my opinion!  We never rehearsed our song until the dress rehearsal earlier that day but I think our performance turned out great!  I sang one more song with another good friend of mine, Tiffany Nutter.  We sang, "For Good" from Wicked and I dedicated it to Stacy and Jen.  This song is "their" song, so I wanted to make it special for them.  Tiffany was in the running to be the original Elphaba in the Original cast of "Wicked", so to sing with her was such an honor.    Our performance was very last minute so we actually never rehearsed our song!  She just showed up at the show and we winged it!  She is so professional and has a perfect voice so I knew we would be okay.  She was probably wondering how I would be because we actually have not seen each other for like a year!  She hasn't heard me sing for a LONG time, so she was very brave to come all that way to sing a song that we never rehearsed!

"...because I knew you, I have been changed for good..."

 "...all at once, everything is different, now that I see you..."

At the end of the show, we all went back on the stage to sing, "God Bless America".  This has always been a tradition and plus, it's a great way to end a show!  Overall, the show was a hit, once again and I am so happy that so many people could make it out to the show!

With Lois, the queen and her princess sister, Ruby!

FOR MORE PICTURES, click on this link: Strawberry Festival