There’s a new queen in town

Published 12:00 am Friday, September 30, 2005

For someone who has already attained Saint-hood, royalty might be something of a step down. But Danielle Howell didn’t mind.

The Nansemond-Suffolk Academy senior was crowned queen of the 28th annual Peanut Fest at the Queen’s Luncheon and Fashion Show Thursday afternoon at the Suffolk Armory. The event raised roughly $3,000 for the Pilot Club, which donates to several community organizations.

Howell’s journey to the throne actually began in August. Women from each of Suffolk’s high schools were asked to write an essay entitled &uot;Peanut Fest: Times Past and Present.&uot;

Email newsletter signup

&uot;My essay was about traditions and things that truly made the Peanut Fest a festival,&uot; Howell said. &uot;I wrote about the traditions that have been added to make it a community event, like rides and music. It’s Suffolkians coming together and having fun.&uot;

The essay, along with her list of community activities, such as involvement with the Oakland Christian Church, Relay for Life, the Salvation Army and Paint Your Heart Out, won Howell the honor, with the Queen’s court being made up of fellow NSA student Courtney White, Jenna Brooks and Rachel Bailor of King’s Fork High School, Katherine Rawls and Lauren Bostic of Lakeland, and LaShawndra Walker and Sarah McDonald of Nansemond River. They’ll all kick off the festival at the Fest parade Saturday, and take part in several events throughout the celebration.

&uot;It is important for us to remember,&uot; city councilwomen Linda Johnson told the armory crowd, &uot;that not only are (the queen and her court) beautiful young women, but that they were chosen because of their commitment to academic excellence and their leadership skills in their schools and their community at large.

&uot;It is so important for young women to develop the self-confidence and esteem that will be needed for them to take their places in the history books. Our queen and court exemplify these qualities. I hope one of them may become mayor someday.&uot;

After the crowning, the fashion show began, as models paraded up and down a stage, displaying the apparel offerings of Denison’s and Richardson and Nash Clothiers.

&uot;The fashion show is a drawing card,&uot; said Pilot Club member Margaret Smith. &uot;The men and women like to see the new fashions.&uot;

Showing them was even more enjoyable, said model Kelli Garcia, who, along with the rest of the troupe, had to run into the dressing room several times to change clothes in a matter of seconds.

&uot;It was a lot of fun,&uot; said Garcia, a Denison’s regular. &uot;I loved it. I thought the clothes were enjoyable.&uot;

The Fest starts off with the Shrimp Fest on Thursday, and continues through Sunday with activities like the Swamp Roar motorcycle ride, a demolition derby, a tractor pull and several music groups.

&uot;Our city is growing and will continue to do so,&uot; Johnson said. &uot;It is events such as the Peanut Festival that will remind us of our heritage and allow us to remember that even though we may see change, there are some wonderful things about Suffolk that will never change and that we will always cherish.&uot;