A new take on a classic tradition
The West Linn Old Time Fair Court has been a traditional feature of the fair since nearly the beginning. The fair began incorporating the court in its second year and the tradition has carried on.
This year's court though, will look slightly different than it has for the past 61 years. For the first time, there is a male ambassador on the traditionally all-female court. Fifteen-year-old Noah Eddy is serving as the first male ambassador of the court this year.
This also is the first year that the representatives are called "ambassadors." In previous years, the court was made up of princesses, but the name change came out of the need to be gender-inclusive.
The court has never barred boys from participating. It's always just been geared a little more toward girls, according to Terri Jones of the West Linn Parks Department, who has worked closely with the ambassadors for years.
"Males have always been welcome, but this year I think we really did a better job of making the effort to make sure that that was clear when we visited the middle schools," Jones said. "I think it's important to make that opportunity available to everyone because this isn't a pageant. It's a community service and leadership opportunity."
When he was applying to be on the court, Eddy, who will be a freshman at West Linn High School in the fall, didn't give much thought to the fact that no boy had ever done it before. He said he was more interested in the opportunity to work on his leadership skills.
Jones said Eddy's leadership skills already looked pretty sharp when he participated in the final stage of the application process, a prepared speech and interview in front of a panel of judges from the Old Time Fair Committee.
She called him "extremely warm, genuine, approachable."
He's been enthusiastic about the opportunity to develop his speaking abilities and gain leadership experience and those things are pretty central to the program," Jones added.
The parks department and fair committee will continue to market the court toward boys and girls.
"Ideally, since we're going to select the best candidates each year, that we would have as many males trying out for it would be a goal, for sure."
Eddy also thinks more boys should apply if they are interested. He said he has enjoyed every part of the program, so far.
"Especially interacting with people of all ages at the events at the Adult Community Center has been cool," he said.
Avery Mickey, Bella Villarreal-Poche, Isabella Renouf and Sarah Talbert are the other ambassadors of this year's fair, with Talbert serving as 2018 queen.