As I mentioned in a relatively recent post, our town’s elementary school will sometimes sponsor a king and queen contest as part of the yearly fall festival festivities. It’s a great fundraiser for a school, as there is very little overhead and not a lot of work on the school’s part. Mostly, it’s just clear profit. Here’s how that works.
1. Parents who are really big gluttons for punishment agree to allow their son or daughter to participate. “Really big” doesn’t even do it justice. Words like gargantuan, colossal, and astronomical would better describe the level of gluttonous to be found within these parents.
2. Each class votes for a king and queen candidate to represent their room in the school-wide contest. And while it may not seem so at the time, the lucky ones are the parents of children not voted into this spot.
3. Then those glutton-loving parents spend two weeks nearly killing themselves trying to raise money for the school. They do this by having bake sales, selling breakfast items to teachers in their lounge (and after two weeks of fried pies, country ham and biscuits, and sausage pinwheels everyone on the payroll at the school is a solid pound heavier), running games the day of the carnival (Toss the ping pong ball into the bowl and win a goldfish!!!), selling raffle tickets for quilts and country hams, and placing jars bearing their child’s picture in stores all over town.
4. On the day of the festival all money raised must be turned in to the school by a certain time, or at least you hope those raising the money actually turn it in.
5. Behind closed doors, with security tighter than that at Fort Knox, the money is counted and recounted (and sometimes recounted again and again just to be on the safe side) with the help of volunteers from the local banks. These ladies are money counting professionals.
6. Everyone gathers in the gym. Contestants are dressed in their Sunday best and seated in chairs below the stage. Parents are seated everywhere else, sometimes lining the walls. It is fairly easy to spot the parents of those children in the chairs. They are the nervous-acting, ashen-looking ones who are thinking to themselves I can’t believe the time and energy and money I have spent over the last two weeks and, dog-gone-it, if my kid doesn’t walk away with that tinfoil crown I will be sick!
7. Finally, the Master of Ceremonies begins by introducing all the little contestants and thanking the teachers who worked on the king and queen committee and telling the total amount of money raised for the school by the kids in this contest. And then the announcement of the winners is made and trophies, sashes and crowns are awarded. Some parents and children leave happy. Some leave a little disappointed.
My sister Shelia, as a second-grader, was the Fall Festival Queen many moons ago. I won’t tell you how many moons exactly. Let’s just say man had not yet been to the moon.
Her son Shane was the Fall festival king the year he was in the fourth grade...
...and her daughter Megan was the 2nd runner-up during her fourth grade year.
And, finally, my own daughter was crowned queen during her kindergarten year in 2000.
Yes, my family is full of royal blood. And even more full of royal gluttons!
Image of Queen Victoria via