Cheney Landry’s year as queen filled with friends and memories

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, July 26, 2000

LEONARD GRAY / L’Observateur / July 26, 2000

Cheney Landry has enjoyed a “wonderful experience” in serving as St.

Charles Parish Festival Queen and will take away a host of memories as she passes along the torch to her successor Saturday night.

“This is the one I really wanted,” she says of her title.

The 19-year-old daughter of Robert and Cynthia Landry, Cheney credited her successful year on the festival circuit to a number of people who supported and encouraged her, including her parents, festival director Doreen Becnel Landry and her ever-patient boyfriend, Paul Murray IV of Destrehan.

“I was the one who wanted to get started in pageants,” she said. Her firsttime out she placed as first runner-up in the Miss Teen portion of the St.

Charles Pageant.

Since then she’s competed in several regional festival pageants, including Louisiana Catfish, St. Charles Farm Bureau and Miss Andouille. Now that Cheney is wrapping up her reign, her immediate plans are her sophomore year at Southeastern Louisiana University in Hammond, where she is pursuing a degree in early childhood education.

During her freshman year she had to schedule classes around her pageant obligations, and many of her weekends were spent at other festivals and pageants across Louisiana.

In one period she spent 14 consecutive weekends at festivals, attending 42 pageants in all during her reign and putting 30,000 miles on her car.

The prize package for the St. Charles Parish Festival Queen ranks well,with scholarship money and paid-up entry fees for higher-ranked competitions totaling $2,500.

“It was an experience to be able to promote our parish,” Cheney added.

Often, her weekends would include dashing home, where her mom had packed for her weekend away, then an average two-hour drive, two days at whatever festival, and then return to home and school.

Her boyfriend, Paul, often found himself drafted to drive her to events and even serve as “go-fer” when emergency stockings or makeup was needed at the last minute. However, he made himself so valuable on the pageantcircuit he twice ended up mentioned in other queens’ speeches.

And with all that Cheney managed to maintain a 3.3 grade point averageand make the Dean’s List at Southeastern.

One of the best things she’ll keep from her experience will be the friendships she’s made with all her “weekend sisters,” her fellow festival queens.

Another of the best things was the experience at exploring Louisiana far beyond the interstate highways, attending events ranging from the Louisiana Swine Festival to the Rayne Frog Festival.

“And the food!” she exclaimed. “I didn’t know rice could be fixed so manydifferent ways!” Cheney has developed a deeper, richer appreciation for the resources and beauty of Louisiana. “Every place is so different!” she said.One of the bulwarks of her support team has been her aunt, pageant director, Doreen Becnel Landry.

“I’ve been hair stylist, makeup artist and confidante,” Landry said, adjusting Cheney’s crown for a photo.

This is the last year the St. Charles Parish Festival queen will be allowedto keep her crown. A newly-created crown will grace the brow ofSaturday’s winner and be used for every pageant thereafter.

The new crown was designed by Chad Becnel and created by Dynasty Collection. It stands 7 inches high and includes Austrian crystal in colorsof emerald, topaz, blue and clear. It depicts a sugar stalk, magnoliablossoms, an oil well and the Hale Boggs Bridge.

Now, with her reign behind her, Cheney plans some time off, yet plans to continue competing in future Louisiana pageants.

“It’s been truly an honor,” she said.

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