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LFR festival kicks off with coronations

Royalty was crowned right inside the Reckmeyer Band Shell June 27 as Briannah West and Lylse Warner became Little Miss and Mister Firecracker, and Megan Buttens was crowned Let Freedom Ring Queen.

Three girls and one little guy gathered up for Mt. Morris’ annual Little Miss and Mister contest, where boys and girls put on their most patriotic outfits, share a little about themselves, and show off their talents to a crowd and judges.

Five-year-olds Rosalean Bruns and Briannah West, and 3-year-old Kayleigh Lynn Williams, took turns showing off their red, white, and blue, but Briannah walked away with the crown.

West led the crowd in the pledge of allegiance as her talent.

Little Lylse Warner, 4, ran unopposed, but he didn’t put any less effort into his outfit (complete with star-spangled suspenders) nor in his performance of Walk The Moon’s “Shut Up And Dance.”

As Warner’s father, Dustin Warner, put it, winning Little Miss and Mister Firecracker can be a confidence boost for the kids.

“It takes a lot of courage to get up there, whether or not there’s a lot of competition,” said Warner. “Winning it is a pretty big confidence boost for the kids, I’m sure.”

With the little winners headed back to parents, another crowning took place: Let Freedom Ring’s 2018 Queen.

Just as Rebecca Hough ran unopposed last year, Megan Buttens ran alone this year. However, again, that didn’t stop her from delivering a show for the audience.

Playing the flute, and joined by her friend Samantha Bowers on the oboe, the pair played “The Raiders March,” what most people would recognize as the Indiana Jones theme song.

Before the performance, royalty coordinator Tanya Koper-Bowers, gave a heartfelt speech paying tribute to several previous queens and queen candidates, and where their futures took them - including Grace Martin, Megan Schmidt, Randi Wilken, Caitlyn Wolber, Kaitlyn Baker, Audra Martin, Brook Logan, Sarah Wolber, Sydne Robinson, and Rebecca Hough.

“I was at a lot of their last senior nights, for band, volleyball, and softball. It was a bittersweet moment to watch them all walk across the stage to receive their diplomas,” said Koper-Bowers, through tears.

After a tribute to the girls she’s seen crowned through the years, she turned her speech toward the current queen, Buttens.

Koper-Bowers said Buttens decided to run when she helped out the contest through the years, and saw how much fun it was for the queens, a sentiment Buttens echoed.

“Last year, I saw Rebecca Hough and Ryan Lazanski get crowned queen and king, and I thought it was so much fun,” said Buttens. “I am not really someone who likes being in the public eye, but I just said ‘get over it, let’s do it.’”