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Willmar Fests royalty crowned

International Princess Tiffany Sieu, from left, Queen of Festivals Shelly Sommers and Aqua Princess Alexandra Wodash pose for photos Saturday after they were crowned this year's Willmar Fests royalty. Eleven other girls participated in the contest. Tribune photo by TJ Jerke

After a long deliberation Saturday, the verdict was in and Shelly Som-mers was crowned 2011 Queen of Festivals during Willmar Fests. Joining Sommers on stage was Aqua Princess Alexandra Wodash and International Princess Tiffany Sieu. "It is exciting," Sommers said. "I'm just glad it is over and will be able to represent Willmar."

With 14 competitors, the contest was largely determined by an interview before five judges Thursday morning. The candidates were also judged on their public speaking abilities and how they presented themselves during the Willmar Fests activities.

New to the coronation this year was a "Meet the Candidates" portion. In this, the 14 candidates for royalty were asked to research a topic relating to Willmar. They would then memorize the topic and recite it to the audience while dressed in costumes relative to the topic.

Sommers, a 2010 Willmar High School graduate and the daughter of Mark and Lynnette Sommers, shed light on the local heath care system.

Sommers said she was beyond excited to participate in the contest and was at a loss for words about winning.

"It just looked like fun at first," she said. "I always want to help people and this seemed like a great way to do it."

-- TJ Jerke