81st International Rice Festival Queen talks about her reign

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A big part of the International Rice Festival is the royalty. 

New Ten sat down with the queen to see what it’s like to reign over the oldest and largest agricultural festival in the state. 

Kathryn Shea Duncan is the 81st International Rice Festival Queen. She was crowned last October and what a year she has had.  

“I was crowned last October on October 20th at 10 AM. I can remember the exact moments,” says Duncan. 

Kathryn’s family is fourth generation rice farmers in Acadia Parish. They are very involved in the rice industry. Her great aunt was a Junior Rice Festival Queen in 1951. 

“I wouldn’t say I always thought I would be the Rice Festival Queen because growing up I was really shy and timid so I really didn’t think that I would be capable of becoming queen, but I gave it a shot and here we are,” adds Duncan. 

Since being crowned, Kathryn has traveled across the country. In her words, she has had the opportunity to simply “take the crown and run with it.” 

“I’ve traveled to over 83 events across the United States this year. I’ve been to West Virginia for the USA Rice Millers Association Convention. I went to Washington D.C. for the Mystic Crew of Louisianians Mardi Gras Ball,” explains Duncan. “I went to San Antonio for the USA Rice Outlook Conference and then to Winnie for the Texas Rice Festival.” 

Reigning along with the International Rice Festival Queen is the Junior King and Queen.  

Each elementary school in Acadia Parish sends two representatives, a boy and a girl, to the pageant Friday morning where they compete for the titles. 

News Ten reports, “Coming up Saturday morning, you’re going to be crowning your next successor. What would you say to her? 

Duncan says, “I would definitely tell them stop whatever you’re doing. This is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. You will never get this chance again, so seize the moment and do the most that you can and just enjoy every moment.” 

Kathryn says through the interview process for the pageant, which took place Friday afternoon, the contestants are questioned on the rice industry and how they will represent the festival.

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