THE POST-SIGNAL / Danette Bourque
Members of the presidential party honored at the 2018 International Rice Festival Honoree Social and Queen’s Ball included, seated from left, John E. Broussard, 2018 Honoree; Ruthie Piron, 2018 Children’s Parade Marshal; Elizabeth Monk, 2018 President; 2017 Junior King Jackson Prevost; 81st International Rice Festival Queen Kathryn Shea Duncan; 2017 Junior King Noelle Gatte; Dana Clements, spouse of Farmer of the Year; Amber Jones, spouse of 2018 Grand Marshal; Shanna Morgan, 2018 Festival Coordinator; standing, Chad Monceaux, 2018 Festival Chairman; Gilles Piron, spouse of 2018 Children’s Parade Marshal; Jason Monk, spouse of 2018 President; Gerard Frey, 2018 Farmer of the Year; Mayor Greg Jones, 2018 Grand Marshal; and Benjamin Faulk, 2018 Junior Farmer of the Year.
Rice Queen, presidential party celebrated at ball
CROWLEY - Last weekend the International Rice Festival hosted its annual Honoree Social and Queen’s Ball at the International Rice Festival Building in Crowley.
Attendees enjoyed a social hour prior to the program, for which 2018 Festival Chairman Chad Monceaux and 2018 Festival Coordinator Shanna Morgan served as emcees. The program opened with a prayer delivered by Crowley Chief of Police Rev. Jimmy Broussard, followed by the singing of the National Anthem by 2018 Teen Miss Acadia Parish Payton Broussard.
The entrance of the presidential party included 2018 President Elizabeth Monk, escorted by her spouse Jason; 2018 Honoree John Broussard, escorted by Suzy Webb; 2018 Farmer of the Year Gerard Frey, escorted by his spouse Dana and his adopted grandson Brayan Jasso; 2018 Junior Farmer of the Year Benjamin Faulk, escorted by his parents, Thomas and Gretchen Leonards Faulk; 2018 Grand Marshal Mayor Greg Jones, escorted by his spouse, Amber; 2018 Children’s Parade Marshal Ruthie Piron, escorted by her husband Gilles; 2017 Junior King Jackson Prevost and 2018 Junior Queen Noelle Gatte; and 81st International Rice Festival Queen Kathryn Shea Duncan, escorted by her mother, Kathy Kibodeaux Duncan.
The queen was the first to address the crowd, telling them about the 80 events that she had attended during her reign and how proud she was to represent the Rice Festival and the rice industry. She also told about how much she had learned about the difficulties that rice farmers face, including government affairs and the whims of nature. She urged everyone to always purchase rice grown in the United States.
Afterwards, Monceaux and Morgan presented her with two large framed collages of photographs from her travels, as well as a framed photograph of her official portrait.
President Monk was the next to speak, telling attendees how proud she was to be the president of a festival about which she was so truly passionate. She also recognized Jeremy Dew, who would be unable to be at the festival, as the Falcon Rice Mill 2018 Mill Worker of the Year.
Mayor Greg Jones commented that he was honored to be the Grand Marshal of the “greatest festival in the world in the greatest city of the world.”
Jeremy Hebert of the LSU AgCenter introduced Junior Farmer Benjamin Faulk, detailing his agricultural accomplishments at such a young age. Faulk, an agribusiness student at LSUE noted that while people might occasionally need doctors and lawyers, they need farmers every day, three times a day. He was presented the Shea Duncan Memorial Scholarship, the Acadia Parish Farm Bureau Scholarship and the Johnny Webb Memorial Scholarship.
Hebert also introduced Farmer of the Year Gerard Frey, telling the crowd that he received an overwhelming response from the statewide selection committee. Frey described what an emotional evening it was for him because his mother, now deceased, always told him that he needed to get that award one day. With that day having finally come, he wished she was still alive to share it with him. He also told about how his parents taught him, “No matter what you do, do it right and do it right the first time,” and described how he and his wife had come to raise Brayan Jasso as their adopted grandson after one of their farm workers gave birth to him the day before she was scheduled to return to her home in Mexico and had to leave him with them as a baby.
After being introduced by last year’s festival honoree, this year’s honoree, John Broussard, described how although 1977 was the last time he was here for Rice Festival, he had been involved with the IRF Foundation for more than 37 years. He thanked the IRF for the large silver platter he had been given in recognition of his being honored and joked that the first thing he was going to do was “pile it high with boudin and share it with everybody.” He thanked everyone for the honor and privilege of being named the 2018 honoree.
Following a brief intermission during which the International Rice Festival Dance Troupe entertained the crowd, the grand march, including the introduction of visiting queens, was held and the program gave way to the ball.