Louisiana Tournoi Queen
Tournoi queens prepare to relinquish titles Saturday night
Miss Louisiana Tournoi Queen
Each festival pageant provides a unique opportunity to the young lady who is lucky enough to be bestowed the title of being the queen. The title of Miss Louisiana Tournoi Queen is no different and stood out among all the others to pageant veteran Holly Kay, who is from Flora in rural Natchitoches Parish.
“I have held other titles, but my year as Miss La Tournoi has been the best year I can remember,” Kay said. “It did not seem to matter that I am not from Ville Platte, the Tournoi board and riders welcomed me with open arms and have continued to support and cheer me on in all of my endeavors. I could not have dreamed of a better year of reign.”
Kay is a 19-year-old college student at McNeese State University where she is pursing a degree in agriculture education and is the daughter of Robin and Keith Kay. After receiving her bachelor’s degree, she plans on teaching high school agriculture.
Part of her experiences as Miss Louisiana Tournoi Queen that made it most memorable for Kay was, as she said, “definitely the Sunday of the Tournoi. From the parade to the running of the Tournoi and wrapping up with the Ball, I had a blast getting to know the riders, people of Ville Platte, and getting to spend time with my Teen Queen Charlie (Bieber), and my Jr. Queen Sam (LaFleur).”
She added, “I attended quite a few festivals and other events during my year of reign like the Boggy Bayou Festival, the Basile Swine Festival and Pageant, the Louisiana Pirate Days Festival, and the Red River Balloon Rally just to name a few. The most unusual thing I experienced was getting to play with a little raccoon at the Boggy Bayou Festival with their Queen at the time, Lynee West (Cavins).”
While not being from Evangeline Parish, wearing the crown of Miss Louisiana Tournoi gave Kay a deeper understanding of the area around her. “Being crowned Miss Tournoi,” she said, “has given me a great opportunity to truly delve deeper into Southwest Louisiana Culture, expand my knowledge about the history of our state, and has allowed me to form relationships with people who have had a huge impact on my life.”
This aspect ties into what Kay thinks goes into being a good pageant queen. As she expressed, “I think in order to be a good pageant queen you have to have a true love and admiration for your festival or city. You have to have it in your heart that what you represent is the best and everyone deserves to know about it. The love a queen has for her title should rub off on anyone she meets.”
To her successor, Kay says, “This title is so unique, do your best to make other people realize just how special La Tournoi, Ville Platte, and Evangeline Parish as a whole is.”
Teen Tournoi Queen
Winning pageant titles is nothing foreign to Charlie Bieber. Since 2012, she has worn seven other crowns at competitions that stretch across Allen, Evangeline, and St. Landry Parishes.
Even though she held these other titles such as Petit Miss de’ Mardi Gras Paroisse d’ Allen and Little Miss Washington Catfish Festival, being Teen Tournoi Queen was a unique experience.
“Being the Teen Tournoi Queen,” Bieber said, “has been a unique experience because I am a contracted queen and with that comes more responsibilities and commitments to uphold.”
Her latest title allowed Bieber to, as she said, “be part of the Tournoi course, present the trophies to the winners, ride the Channel 10 KLFY Sonic Christmas parade float, and ride a horse in the Cotton Festival Parade.”
Teen Tournoi Queen also gave Bieber the chance to attend events such as Swine Festival, Boggy Bayou Festival, Cotton Festival, shooting events, livestock shows, local parades including homecoming and Christmas parades.
Bieber said that her biggest opportunities came with “representing the Tournoi Association and the parish that I love, bringing awareness to the culture, and also gaining experience with public speaking.”
These experiences are ones that Bieber can take with her into the future. “I plan to join the U.S. Marine Corps and become an officer and take the opportunity to travel,” she said. “I also plan to retire in Evangeline parish to own and operate my own farm, and, during off seasons, I would like to photograph third world countries.”
Bieber is the 15-year-old daughter of Michelle and Charles Bieber, II. She is the granddaughter of Clem and Linda Manuel and Charles and Yvette Bieber. She currently is a sophomore at Mamou High School where she participates in cheerleading and FFA. She is a 4-H junior leader and a Louisiana State Shooting Ambassador. She belongs to the LA Skeet Shooting Association and National Skeet Shooting Association. She enjoys shooting, archery, livestock shows, and traveling. She is also a certified babysitter and likes to help younger girls prepare for pageants.
Bieber stated that part of the way that she prepares younger queens is by telling them to “be proud and knowledgeable of your festival and community and represent your title and others with respect.”
To her successor, Bieber shares some advice that she picked up along the way as being Teen Tournoi Queen. “I would tell my successor to keep a smile because they are contagious,” she said. “You are not only representing yourself and your family but an entire association, so act accordingly. But most of all to have fun meeting other queens and getting to know about their festivals.”
Junior Tournoi Queen
The title of Junior Tounoi Queen last year went to a pageant newcomer in Samara LaFleur. She is the daughter of Jade LaFleur and step-daughter of Kasie LaFleur. She is the granddaughter of Mark LaFleur and Kris Daire.
“Although I have never held any other titles, I can say that this has been one of the best years of my life,” said LaFleur. “I have met so many wonderful people and have gotten to see just how amazing their festivals are. I am so thankful for the opportunity that I was given to show everyone just how amazing that the Tournoi is.”
She continued, “One of the highlights of being Jr. Miss Tournoi was at the event. Even though my allergies kept making my nose bleed all day throughout the run and up to the awards, I got to experience how everything worked. It was so much fun watching the Tournoi riders.”
Wearing the Junior Tournoi Queen gave LaFleur the opportunity to represent the pageant at other festivals across the area. “The most unusual festival was most definitely the Cochon de Lait Festival because we literally sat down for about three hours doing nothing but watch the cooking categories go by,” she said. “One of the coldest festivals I have ever gone to was the Boggy Bayou Festival this year. We were all huddled together under blankets and wearing rubber boots.”
When she was not representing the Tournoi this year, LaFleur was enjoying her spare time by being a member of Beta Club and danceline at Pine Prairie High School, by swimming and acting, and by spending time with friends and family.
Upon graduating high school, LaFleur said she plans “to go to McNeese to earn my doctorate degree, then become an intern and working my way up to a surgeon. I want to become a pediatric surgeon because I love kids. Someday in the future I would like to get married and have kids.”
Being a pageant queen for the first time allowed LaFleur to learn things about herself. “I have learned about myself that I really do have a girly side,” she said. “Most of my friends know that I am kind of a tomboy, but, when they heard I was in a pageant, they were very surprised. I have also learned that pageants aren’t just about competition, they are also about family and friends.”
LaFleur’s first pageant title also gave her some advice that she can pass along to her successor. She said, “Be proud to be a Tournoi Queen and represent the festival with pride and respect and make friends with as many of the queens as possible. You never know some of them just might be some of your best friends for the rest of your life.”