In 1922, Marjorie Billings was crowned the first Junior Queen of the Strawberry Festival. Her coronation kicked off the children's parade, but also marked the start of a decades long absence of her Junior Queen successor. It wasn't until 1951, when Carla Garrison was crowned Junior Queen of the Strawberry Festival, that Lebanon saw the return of having a Junior Court. The tradition would hang around awhile this time, with Junior Courts being a part of the annual Festival activities until 1983, and was revived again in 2018.
Over time, the Junior Court changed. The young boys were no longer “Princes” and “King”, but “escorts”. The court was no longer chosen from third graders, but from second graders. And in 1975, Gwen (Gilbert) Nelson was crowned the last Junior Queen of Strawberry Festival—from then on, all of the young girls would just be known as Princesses. The schools the Princesses represented also changed as new schools were built, and others were consolidated. At times, there were as many as 12 Junior Princesses on the court in order to represent each school.
Today, our Junior Princesses are selected by a random draw of applicants from each of the following schools: Cascades, Green Acres, Hamilton Creek, Lacomb, Riverview, Pioneer, Sand Ridge Charter, and one from East Linn Christian or Home School. Our Junior Court has a smaller event calendar than our Senior Court does, and key appearances are the Queen's Coronation, Junior Parade, and Grand Parade.
Fun Fact! Many of the little girls chosen to be Junior Court Princesses, wound up being Senior Court Princesses as well. Cheryl (Copeland) Huff was even fortunate enough to be crowned Queen twice—once as Junior Queen in 1954, and a second time as Senior Court Queen in 1965!
Lebanon-area elementary schools represented on courts prior to 1983 included: Waterloo, Santiam, Green Acres, Crowfoot, Hamilton Creek, Queen Anne, Cascades, St. Edwards, Lacomb, Sodaville, Fairview, Gore, Tennessee, Denny, and Sandridge.