Lani Bergeron has memorable reign as S&P queen
Editor’s note: This is a farewell letter submitted by 75th Louisiana Shrimp and Petroleum Festival Queen Lani Bergeron as her reign draws to an end. She will crown her successor Saturday at 7:30 p.m. during a coronation pageant at the Morgan City Municipal Auditorium.
“One year ago, I received the most incredible honor of my life — I was crowned the 75th Louisiana Shrimp and Petroleum Festival Queen. My dream of representing this amazing festival and everything it represents had finally come true, and I could hardly believe it. My coronation was absolutely wonderful, but it was made even more special because of my king and neighbor, Mr. Al Adams II. Sharing this reign with someone I have known for so long has been truly special, and I cannot imagine sharing this experience with anyone else.
“My festival experience was truly a unique and magical one. Getting to participate in every aspect of the festival that I have attended throughout my childhood was extremely special to me. I will never forget getting to open the festival with the ribbon cutting, my day visiting local elementary schools, spending a day in the park with all of the Louisiana festival queens, and enjoying a wonderful shrimp boil. My most favorite memory is the events on Sunday — Mass in the park, the Blessing of the Fleet, and the parade. Being part of such a huge tradition was the most amazing experience. I am so honored and humbled to be a part of the history.
“One cannot reflect on the 75th Louisiana Shrimp and Petroleum Festival without remembering the horrific Deep Water Horizon BP explosion and its terrible aftermath. Our festival, already in the spotlight because of the 75th Diamond Jubilee Anniversary, gained even more attention because of our celebration and support of the local petroleum industries. Media from all over the world attended our festival, interviewing Mr. Al and I along with the festival board members. We encountered reporters from local news stations, the Wall Street Journal, Japan and Canada, just to name a few. Even though such negative light was trying to be brought to our festival, Mr. Al and I did our best to remind the media that our festival is a celebration of the tenacity of the people of our Tri-City area and how the shrimp and petroleum industries have made us remain prosperous. The oil spill is something that continues to affect us and our economy, but as wise King Al said during our festival, “We are a resilient people, and we will continue to rise above this disaster.”
“Once our 75th festival ended, my job as the voice of our festival began. I have traveled to many pageants to congratulate new festival royalty, including the Plaquemines Parish Fair and Orange Festival Queen’s Selection, the Louisiana Cattle Festival Pageant, the Louisiana Sugar Cane Pageant, the Breaux Bridge Crawfish Festival Pageant, and many others.
“I have also attended many festivals as well. I traveled to historic Fort Jackson for the return of the Plaquemines Parish Fair and Orange Festival to its original home. While there, I picked oranges in the groves, ate some delicious char-grilled oysters, and participated in various orange-eating and kumquat-stuffing contests. At the International Rice Festival in Crowley, I had a chance to watch a rice thrashing demonstration and even thrashed rice myself. I modeled a pink burlap dress at the Yambilee Festival, handled a bull at the Louisiana Cattle Festival, and made gumbo and sang with the band at the Bridge City Gumbo Festival Coronation.
“I welcomed the new Queen Sugar in New Iberia and the new Louisiana Fur and Wildlife Queen in Lake Charles. I went crawfishing in the ponds in Breaux Bridge, the Crawfish Capitol of the World and home of the Breaux Bridge Crawfish Festival. I was treated to a crawfish boil afterwards, at which I tried to out-eat the Cattle Queen. I toured an oyster processing plant and attended the Amite Oyster Festival Pageant, experienced the hospitality of the Italians at the Italian Festival Ball, and was treated to a spicy day in New Iberia for the Cajun Hot Sauce Festival. While there we toured the beautiful Shadows on the Teche Plantation.
“I represented the Louisiana Shrimp and Petroleum Festival at the Louisiana Association of Fairs and Festivals’ Convention, participating in the weekend’s events and congratulating the newly crowned LAFF Queen of Queens. I then traveled to Washington, D.C., for the trip of a lifetime to the Mystick Krewe of Louisianians’ Mardi Gras celebration.
“I attended the Ponchatoula Strawberry Festival, rode in one of the most attended festival parades, and enjoyed Louisiana’s sweetest strawberries the best way — fried and dusted with powdered sugar! I traveled to New Orleans for the Greater New Orleans Floral Trail Festival of Flowers, a tradition almost as old as our own festival! I was treated like a true queen there, attending Mass in St. Louis Cathedral, participating in the coronation in Jackson Square, and touring the city in horse drawn carriages, tossing flowers to people. I returned to New Orleans two weeks later for the Louisiana Farm Bureau Convention and Pageant. I was treated to a sugary sweet day in Lutcher for the Miss St. James Parish Queen’s day events, participating in bake-off and getting to tour the Zapp’s Chippery in Grammercy.
“Throughout the year, I attended a New Orleans Hornets basketball game, a New Orleans Zephyrs baseball game, and a New Orleans Voodoo arena football game. At all of these events, I was presented in my festival attire to all of the fans in attendance. I ended my year with a trip to the wonderful town of Delcambre for the Delcambre Shrimp Festival Queen’s day events and pageant. On that day we toured the breathtaking Rip van Winkle Gardens and went on a scavenger hunt throughout the town. I ended my travels by congratulating the 61st Delcambre Shrimp Festival Queen.
“Reflecting on my year, I know that I would not have changed a thing. I had the most amazing experiences and met the most incredible people, all the while representing the festival and town that I hold so dear in my heart. I am so honored and blessed to have had the chance to represent the people of Morgan City, Patterson and Berwick, the shrimp and petroleum industries that have made our area so prosperous, and the greatest and most unique festival.
“My successor will be crowned on Aug 27. For her I have these words of advice to offer. ‘Wear your crown with dignity and pride. You will see as your travel around the state that our festival is truly the best festival. Our festival is respected and revered, not only for its longevity, but also for all of its unique traditions. Have fun and experience all that you can. This will be one of the best years of your life. It will be fast-paced, exciting, and you will meet some of the best people in the state of Louisiana. Cherish every moment, carry lots of bobby pins, and make sure your camera’s battery is charged because the memories you make will be the most special of your life.”