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Making history at 2021 Willmar Fests Senior Coronation

The annual Willmar Fests Senior Ambassador Coronation at the Willmar Community Center welcomed the new royalty and thanked the record-setting former royalty.

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Diana, left, and David Frey are escorted Wednesday, June 23, 2021, by their granddaughter Morgan Stoeberl, center, before they are officially crowned as the incoming Willmar Fests Senior Ambassadors during the annual coronation at the Willmar Community Center in Willmar. Erica Dischino / West Central Tribune

WILLMAR — Dressed to the nines and celebrating 75 years of Kaffe Fest, David and Diana Frey were elated to have been elected to represent Willmar as the 2021 Willmar Fests Senior Ambassadors.

More than 100 audience members enjoyed a live performance Wednesday afternoon by Gig Noonan as well as a visit from current candidates and former Willmar Fests royalty during the senior ambassador coronation at the Willmar Community Center.

Straight out of the Roaring '20s, “The Great Gatsby”-themed celebration brought back almost 20 years of former Senior Ambassadors. Dressed in true Gatsby style, the former ambassadors were introduced, by year served, and applauded as they walked through the crowd.

Originally begun as Kaffe Fest in 1945, Willmar Fests is marking its 75th anniversary this year, one year late due to the pandemic. Wednesday was the first day of Willmar Fests events , which continue Thursday through Saturday.

See related: After 76 years, Willmar Fests turns 75*

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Waiting in line to be introduced, 2006’s Senior Ambassador Phyllis Willams said that she “just wanted to dance” to some “good music.” Williams said the theme fit perfectly with her outfit, her mother’s wedding dress.

Before passing off their titles, Ardis and Ken Newberg thanked those in the crowd and the Willmar Fests board for giving them the opportunity to serve for two years.

“Oh, what do I say,” Ardis Newberg said. “Two years, we made history.”

With the pandemic cancellation of Willmar Fests in 2020, the Willmar Fests royalty made history as it was the first time the festival had royalty serve for two years in a row.

“You know, not only as a senior club (member), but as a couple, we want to get out in the community and let them know that there's something beyond Willmar Fests for seniors to get involved in,” said Diana Frey.

The Freys talked about how they are looking forward to the year ahead and getting the seniors in the community back out to enjoy all the things Willmar and Minnesota have to offer.

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Related Topics: WILLMAR
Tim Speier joined the Brainerd Dispatch in October 2021, covering Public Safety.
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