NEW FROG FESTIVAL ROYALTY - Named new 2019-2020 Frog Festival royalty during weekend pageants held at the Rayne Civic Center were, front row, from left, Junior Teen Frog Festival Queen Klarisse Thibodeaux, Golden Frog Festival King and Queen Paul Kedinger and Fran Bihm, Junior Frog Festival Queen Allyson Pinson; second row, Ms. Frog Festival Queen Lauren Smith, Miss Rayne Mary Kate Simon, Teen Frog Festival Queen Janci Aubé; top row, Frog Festival Queen Kennidy Peavy. (Acadian-Tribune Photo by Josie Henry)
Frog Festival royalty named during weekend pageants
RAYNE - A full slate of new Frog Festival royalty was named over the weekend, each receiving their crowns and banners as they will represent Rayne and the Frog Festival during the upcoming 2019-2020 year.
Saturday’s pageantry began at 9 a.m. at the Civic Center with the crowning of the new Frog Festival Junior Queen and Jr. Teen Queen, followed by the evening contests when the Teen, Miss and Ms. Queens were selected.
Selected to reign over the 47th Annual Rayne Frog Festival on May 8-11 were:
Miss Queen Kennidy Peavy;
Teen Queen Janci Aubé;
Ms. Queen Lauren Smith;
Jr. Teen Queen Klarisse Thibodeaux; and
Junior Queen Allyson Pinson.
Also introduced during the evening program were the 2019-2020 Golden Frog Festival King and Queen, Paul Kedinger and Fran Bihm.
Emcee for the evening program was Cheryl Boudreaux, with judges including Angelique Bernard of Breaux Bridge,K’Rees Woods Broussard of Gueydan and Ty Babin of Delcambre.
Past Frog Festival royalty of all age groups were in attendance and aknowledged during introductions, including Victoria Richard, Kelsey Primeaux Lormand, Ashlee Guilbeau, Joyce Trahan, Rose Marie Stelly, Gabby Guilbeau, Ralph Stutes, Henrietta Didier, Phyllis and Ken Arceneaux and Loretta Bordes.
Frog Festival Queen
Kennidy Elizabeth-Ann Peavy, 19-year-old daughter of Erin Ann and Scott Peavy of Lake Charles, will reign as queen of the 47th Annual Rayne Frog Festival.
Crowning her successor was Fallyn Gonsoulin, last year’s honoree, and was sponsored for the event by her parents.
Kennidy is a graduate of Rosepine High School and is employed as a dance instructor at Premier Dance Center. She plans to attend McNeese State University to obtain a degree in animal science with hopes to one day own her own zoo.
Named First Maid was Haleigh Johnna Danae Newnham, 20-year-old daughter of Letitia and David Dees of Scott. She is a student at McNeese State University.
Virginia Coberly was named Second Maid. She is the 19-year-old daughter of Scott and Bridget Boudreaux of Westlake. She is a applied behavior analyst at Milestones Behavioral Services while a freshman at Sowela Community College majoring in early childhood education.
Miss Coberly was also awarded the gold tray as Miss Congeniality, an honor chosen by her fellow contestants. She was sponsored for the pageant by PSA Training & Consulting & Family.
Frog Festival Teen Queen
Janci Michelle Aubé was crowned the 2019 Frog Festival Teen Queen by last year’s honoree, Kailey Hollier.
The 14-year-old daughter of Ricky and Bunne Aubé of Rayne is a freshman at Lafayette Christian Academy where she is very involved with school and extracurricular activities.
Miss Aubé was also awarded the gold tray as Miss Congeniality, an honor chosen by her fellow contestants.
Named First Maid was Kerrigan Renee Vincent, 16-year-old daughter of Kelly and Melissa Vincent of DeRidder. She is a sophomore at DeRidder High School.
Emma Mistric was named 2nd Maid. She is the 16-year-old daughter of Dawn and Daryl Mistric of Duson and a junior at Acadiana High School.
Frog Festival Ms. Queen
Lauren Cheatwood Smith of Anacoco was named the 2019 Frog Festival Ms. Queen. She was sponsored for the event by the Iowa Rabbit Festival and was crowned by last year’s honoree, Brittney Reed.
Lauren is the 27-year-old daughter of Louis Cheatwood and Robin and Keith Kay. She represented the Iowa Rabbit Festival during the pageant. She is employed by the Sabine Parish Sheriff’s Office as a civil deputy and dispatcher.
Leslie Nicole Meyer of Rayne was named First Maid to the Frog Festival Ms Queen. The 41-year-old is the owner/operator of Barks and Bubbles by Leslie and dog groomer. She was sponsored for the event by Kangaroo’s Pouch of Rayne.
Named Second Maid was Jackie Bergeron Martz of Lake Charles, the 41-year-old owner-operator of A-Plus Monogramming in Lake Charles. She is the daughter of Lowell and the late Fae Bergeron and is married to Joel Martz. She was sponsored for the pageant by Lake Charles Mayor’s Armed Forces Commission.
Jackie was also selected Miss Congeniality by the contestants, a prestigious honor.
Third Maid was Stephanie Elaine Garner of Scott, the 42-year-old daughter of the late Herman and Judith Garner. She is employed as a medical and insurance billing recorder. She was sponsored for the event by James Romaro.
Frog Festival Jr. Teen Queen
Klarisse Renay Thibodeaux, 12-year-old daughter of Heather Touchet of Rayne, was selected the first Frog Festival Junior Teen Queen. Klarisse is a seventh grade student at Rayne Catholic Elementary. She was crowned by Alyssa Rae Theriot, last year’s Jr. Frog Festival Queen.
Named First Maid was Paiten Nicole Meyer, 12-year-old daughter of Leslie and Scott Meyer of Rayne. She is a sixth grade student at Judice Middle School.
Kaelyn Gunter, named Second Maid, is the 12-year-old daughter of Susan Johnson and Brandon Gunter of Longville. She is a seventh grade student at South Beauregard Junior High School.
The Frog Festival Junior Teen Queen’s Pageant is sponsored by the ladies of Preceptor Alpha Chi Chapter of Beta Sigma Phi Sorority.
Frog Festival Junior Queen
Allyson Elizabeth Pinson, 11-year-old daughter of Ashley Manley and Jarred Manley of Rayne, will serve as the 2019-2020 Frog Festival Junior Queen and will reign over the 47th annual Frog Festival. She was also crowned by Alyssa Theriot during ceremonies held Saturday morning at the Rayne Civic Center. Allyson is a sixth grade student at Northside Christian School in Crowley.
First Maid was MaKenzie Claire Spallino, 11-year-old daughter of Chasity Broussard and Dustin Spallino of Rayne. She is a fifth grade student at Mire Elementary.
Mia Angelle Comeaux was named Second Maid. She is the 11-year-old daughter of Heath and Taryn Comeaux of Kaplan and is a sixth grade student at North Vermilion Middle School.
The Frog Festival Junior Queen’s Pageant is sponsored by the ladies of Preceptor Alpha Chi Chapter of Beta Sigma Phi Sorority.
Frog Festival Golden King & Queen
Paul Kedinger and Fran Bihm were presented as the 2019-2020 Frog Festival Golden King and Queen by the Cajun Hospitality Charter Chapter of the American Business Women’s Association and the Chamber of Commerce during ceremonies held just prior to the introduction of queen’s pageant contestants.
Frances R. Bihm (Fran) was born in Rayne, but resided in the rural areas of Mire and Link communities. She is a 1960 graduate of Rayne High School.
She was married to the late Eugene Bihm for 43 years, and together they raised three children Valarie Bihm Roy, Tracie Bihm Broussard and Matthew S. Bihm. She is affectionately called “O’Ma” by her grandchildren, Drew and Taylor Roy Zahn, twins Kane and Katie Broussard and Ava Claire and Mary Paige Bihm.
Fran began her professional career in the newspaper industry in 1969, when she joined the advertising staff at the Crowley Post-Signal. Soon, she was transferred to the Rayne Acadian-Tribune and Church Point News and was promoted to Advertising Director. She created “the Tribune Hopper” which was a weekly free publication covering the Rayne, Duson and later Scott zip codes. When she named and designed the banner for the TMC, she made it a point to include a frog and the word “Hopper” to recognize and admire Rayne as the Frog Capital of the World and home of the Rayne Frog Festival.
She was instrumental in publishing the first Frog Festival Edition, and annual Acadia Parish Visitors Guide, which are still being published today.
Her creative talents of promotions and marketing, awarded the newspaper with numerous recognitions and awards by the Louisiana Press Association over the years.
After 32 years with Louisiana State Newspapers, she resigned her position.
With printers ink still in her veins, and more things to accomplish in her community, she joined the Rayne Independent Staff as their Promotions & Advertising Director in January of 2003. During her tenure, she was instrumental in organizing and publishing a new weekly publication for the Scott community, called “The Scott Connection.” After the untimely deaths of Robert, Jo and Tommy Cart, the publications were closed in June of 2013.
She has been recognized and received numerous awards for her professional career while in the newspaper industry for 45 years, as well as several civic and social organizations.
Fran was instrumental in initiating the idea for ABWA to sponsor the first Annual Golden Frog Festival Queen presentation and ball in 1989, and added a “king” to the royalty in 1993.
She has also gained local, state, regional and national recognition with awards from Beta Sigma Phi, Louisiana and Rayne Jaycees, ABWA, and Louisiana Association of Chamber of Commerce Executives.
She organized ten Girl Scout Troops in the Rayne area, served as Troop Leader, and served a two terms as a Board of Director on the local council. She was given an Honorary Lifetime membership to Girl Scouts of America.
She and her husband were also volunteer leaders of the Boy Scouts of America as Den and Cub Pack leaders.
As a testimonial to Fran’s involvement in the Frog Festival since its beginning, she was honored as “Grand Marshal” of the 25th Anniversary of the Frog Festival Parade in 1997 by the Rayne Chamber of Commerce Frog Festival Committee.
Fran has been involved in her hometown community by serving as President of Cajun Hospitality Charter Chapter of American Business Women Association, current President of the Acadia Parish Tourist Commission, current President of the Rayne Garden Club, and is a charter member of Rotary Club of Rayne where she was honored as the first recipient as “Rotarian of the Year.”
She has served the Rayne Chamber of Commerce & Agriculture as Executive Director since 2014. She and the Rayne Chamber were awarded the prestigious “2016 Small Chamber of the Year Award” by the Louisiana Association of Chamber of Commerce Executives. This Leadership Award is based on Community, Organizational and Professional Development of a small chamber throughout Louisiana.
Her favorite motto to live by is “The Golden Rule”.
A native of Wisconsin, where he grew up on a dairy farm, Paul Kedinger now considers Rayne his hometown after serving as the managing editor of the Rayne Acadian-Tribune marking the community’s history for 20 years and retiring in 2017.
He entered high school at St. Lawrence Seminary in Mt. Calvary, Wisconsin, and then transferred to St. Francis de Sales Major Seminary in Milwaukee, where he graduated with a Bachelor of Arts degree in philosophy.
He entered graduate school at the University of Wisconsin School of Journalism and Mass Communications, where he took a seat next to a girl from Louisiana, who later became his wife, Wanda. They were married for 48 years until her death in August of 2016.
Kedinger began his career first in a public relations job as Information Coordinator at UW’s International Center for Studies in Vocational and Technical Education.
From there he moved to WKOW-TV in Madison as a news reporter.
He accepted his first community newspaper job as editor of the Lake Geneva Regional News then moved on to become editor and advertising manager of the New Holstein Reporter.
After four and a half years in New Holstein, he moved to Oakdale, La., where Kedinger took over as editor and publisher of the Oakdale Beacon for the next eight years, converting the paper from a free-circulation to a second class newspaper.
He sold the newspaper in 1984 and operated Images, Etcetera, an advertising and public relations firm, for the next year before moving on to become the editor of the Ville Platte Gazette for the next 11 years.
He left the Ville Platte job to work with Louisiana State Newspapers on special projects, and also traveled the state hiring and training editors as the company continued to purchase more newspapers.
Later, he was asked to move to Rayne to serve as managing editor of The Rayne Acadian-Tribune, the position he held for 20 years until his retirement.
He also served for several years on the Lafayette Diocesan Board of Communications.
He is a member of the Rayne Lions Club and an honorary member of the Rayne Rotary Club and an honorary firemen of the Rayne Volunteer Fire Department.
He is the father of three sons, Gregory, Daniel and the late Victor, and grandfather of six.
The new “Golden” honorees were crowned by last year’s royalty, Mike and Myrna Constantin, and received their flowers and golden tray from members of the local ABWA organization.
Frog Festival Poster Contest
The unveiling of the 2019 Frog Festival poster was also held during the evening. Festival Chairman Jeremy Lavergne and Poster Chairman Cordelia Pizzalotto announced that 26 entries were submitted for this year’s contest.
Introduced as the 2019 poster winner was Ethan Alleman as his winning poster was unveiled. Ethan is the son of Jason and Leslie Alleman of Rayne and is a junior at Rayne High School.
Additional highlights of the Frog Festival Queen’s Pageants will be continued in next week’s edition of The Rayne Acadian-Tribune.