Student named as next queen

The newest Queen of the Ponchatoula Strawberry Festival is shouting “Lion Up.”

On June 6, the 45th Annual Ponchatoula Strawberry Festival crowned their newest queen, Danielle Rodriguez. Rodriguez is a sophomore nursing major  at Southeastern and graduate of Ponchatoula High School.  

“The Strawberry Festival has always truly hit home,” said Rodriguez. “It is hands down the best childhood memory I have, along with the best family memory I have.”

After moving in with her grandfather, a former Strawberry King, she always tried to keep conversations on the subject of the Strawberry Festival with him.

“The only topic that interested him was strawberries,” said Rodriguez. “He told me about memories he had at the festival, helping board members plan the festival, his experience as king and about his own strawberries he grew. I told him he inspired me to run for Strawberry Queen XLV next summer.”

Rodriguez started studying for the pageant in December. She prepared herself by practicing her walk and answers for certain questions she may be asked. The pageant consists of an introduction, an interview, an on-stage question and an evening gown walk.

“I’ve always wanted to be the Louisiana Strawberry Queen, but I knew I was no pageant girl. For so long that stopped me from going after this title,” said Rodriguez. “After months of studying, practicing and learning how to walk in heels, I can gladly say it was worth it to reach my dream.” 

After the pageant was over, Rodriguez was announced queen. She found the outcome shocking. 

“My first thought was ‘okay this is the part where I wake up’ because I’ve had so many dreams about that moment,” said Rodriguez. “I was so shocked because the two contestants I was up against were both beautiful and kind-hearted. They also had experience with pageants, unlike myself. The night I was crowned, I had to sleep with the crown in my bedroom just so whenever I woke up I would know immediately it wasn’t another dream.” 

For someone to be eligible to be in the running for Miss Louisiana Strawberry Queen, she has to live in a 50 mile radius of Ponchatoula and be between 18-23 years of age.

The festival is held the second week of April, allowing Rodriguez to promote the 2016 Strawberry Festival during her reign as queen. 

To promote Strawberry Festival, she must attend at least 22 other festivals all over the state of Louisiana representing and promoting Ponchatoula strawberries. 

Although Rodriguez does not plan on running for Miss Southeastern, she may try the Queen of Queens pageant in February. 


Newly crowned Strawberry Queen Danielle Rodriguez takes the throne alongside the Strawberry King, Paul Pevey. 
Courtesy of Cindy Rodriguez