Eight Sequim High School students will vie for Irrigation Festival queen Feb. 21.
Three will be crowned princesses.
Wearing ball gowns, demonstrating special talents and giving speeches in front of an auditorium full of people, each contestant will share why she should be chosen to represent Sequim.
Cindy Bacon, pageant chairwoman, said she's excited to work with such a large group - the largest in more than two years.
"We did a little more advertising (this year) and put up posters where kids hang out," Bacon said. "But it goes like that: One year it's slow, and another year there's a lot of interest."
Originally, 12 students submitted pageant applications, but four had to drop out due to scheduling complications.
During regular meetings, they learn about poise, makeup, hair styling and public speaking from community experts. Bacon scores competitors on attendance, camaraderie and punctuality.
At the Judge's Tea at The Oak Table Cafe the night before the pageant, candidates answer impromptu questions.
"This not only gets them ready for the pageant and to represent Sequim but it hopefully helps them get ready for the rest of their lives and how to present themselves professionally," Bacon said about the month leading up to the pageant.
Bacon, a 1973 Irrigation Festival princess, has been coordinating the event for 10 years. "I really enjoy working with the girls and seeing them blossom," she said.
The 114th Sequim Irrigation Festival is May 2-10. The theme is "Sequim: A Magical Place." Planning and float construction are under way.
For more information, go online to www.irrigationfestival.com.
Meet the contestants
Baylon, 17, enjoys tennis, soccer, baking, sewing and laughing. After high school she wants to become a fashion designer.
"I decided to compete in the Irrigation Festival pageant because it looked like something fun to do," Baylon said.
"I know people who have done it in the past and they said they liked it. I think I would be a good representative of this community that I adore and love."
Baylon's sponsor is Bliemeisters' Wood Works, Inc. Her parents are Enrique and Felipa Baylon.
Clark, 16, enjoys dancing, being outdoors and hanging out with friends.
After graduation, her short-term goals are to obtain an Associate of Arts degree and join the Coast Guard. Long-term, she wants to be a pediatrician.
"I decided to compete in the pageant because it seemed like a great opportunity to get myself out in the public and represent Sequim," Clark said.
"I would make a good princess or queen because I'm up for a good time, I'm reliable and I would love to let people around Washington know what an amazing town I live in."
The best piece of advice she's ever received - and something she wants to pass along to other youths - was from her father:
"No one can control your mood or life unless you let them; you have to make you happy and blaze your own trail."
Clark's sponsor is the U.S. Coast Guard Chief Petty Officer's Association of Port Angeles. Her parents are Sean and Paula Clark.
Dotlich, 18, enjoys cheerleading, singing, dancing and laughing.
After she graduates in June, Dotlich plans to attend the Gary Manuel Aveda Institute in Seattle to study cosmetology and esthetics. Eventually, she wants to open a hair salon in Sequim.
"I decided to compete in the Irrigation Festival pageant because I thought it would be a really great experience and I would love to represent Sequim," Dotlich said.
"I think I would make a good princess or queen because I am very responsible and also know how to have a good time with other people."
Her motto is "Live life to its fullest because you only live once," something her mother told her as a young girl.
Dotlich's sponsor is Tarcisio's Italian Restaurant. Her mother is Annette Dotlich.
Elliott, 17, enjoys cooking, horseback riding and swimming. Her career ambitions include becoming a professional chef.
"I want to be an ambassador for Sequim and show other kids like me that they can do anything they put their mind to," Elliott said.
"I would make a good princess or queen because I'm determined, compassionate, cheerful, helpful and loving."
Elliott's sponsor is Candy Bouquet, Inc. Her parents are Tim and Lynn Elliott.
Gammel, 17, enjoys playing soccer, horseback riding and singing.
After graduation, she plans to attend Brigham Young University in Rexburg, Idaho, and pursue a career in social work, help troubled teens, travel the world and "find my true love and start a family of my own."
Gammel said she wants to be part of the royal court to make new friends and explore the state.
"I would make a good princess or queen because I'm very outgoing, love meeting new people and (am) willing to help all," she said.
She lives her life by a piece of advice given to her by a family friend:
"Everyone is here for a special reason. Whether it's to help you or another, fulfill your position."
Gammel's sponsor is Heather Creek. Her parents are Randy and Candy Gammel.
Gilles, 16, enjoys cheerleading, horseback riding, singing, dancing, listening to music, shopping and hanging out with friends.
After graduation, she plans to attend college and pursue a master's degree in communications. Her dream is to be a senator someday.
"I decided to compete in the Irrigation Festival pageant because I believe it will help me improve my communication abilities," Gilles said.
"I would make a good princess or queen because I believe that I have the (ability) to be a role model or leader for others and that I could represent Sequim (well)."
Gilles' sponsor is Professional Real Estate. Her parents are Ron and Andrea Gilles.
Hudson, 17, enjoys cheerleading, playing volleyball, tennis, shopping and eating gourmet food. Her plans after high school include joining Youth With a Mission for one year and then attending Seattle Pacific University where she hopes to be a SeaGal.
"I decided to compete in the Irrigation Festival pageant because I thought it would be a great opportunity to meet new friends and have fun while representing Sequim," Hudson said.
"I think I would make a good princess or queen because I like to have fun, I'm involved around Sequim and most of all, I love Sequim."
Hudson's sponsor is Sound Community Bank. Her parents are Greg and Esther Hudson.
Merrell, 17, enjoys cheerleading, singing, dancing and shopping.
After graduation, she plans to attend the University of Washington studying radiology and music. Eventually, she'd like to work in Sequim or Port Angeles as a radiologist.
"I have always wanted to (compete in the Irrigation Festival pageant) since I was about 5 years old," Merrell said.
"I want to be a positive role model to younger girls because I looked up to the Irrigation royalty very much."
Merrell's sponsor is Olympic Ambulance Service, Inc. Her mother is Kelli Curren.
What: Sequim Irrigation
When: 7 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 21
Where: Sequim High School auditorium, 601 N. Sequim Ave.
Tickets: $5 general admission, available at Westsound Bank in Sequim and at the door
For a complete list of Irrigation Festival events, go online to
Ashley Miller can be reached at email@example.com.
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