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Spring's sprung: Annual festival kicks off

March 15, 2017
By CHUCK BALLARO ( , Lehigh Acres Citizen

This year's Lehigh Spring Festival theme is "British Invasion," and those who competed in the Junior Miss and Miss Lehigh pageants looked as though they could have come from a Sgt. Pepper album cover.

It was the perfect climax to a great first weekend of the festival, which included a Beatles tribute band, pirates and fun for the whole family.

Andy Reisinger, board member of the festival, said things went well, especially on Friday.

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Xavi Caleb Flores-Morales and Asha Kanacheril were crowned the Lehigh Spring Festival Prince and Princess.

"We broke a record for attendance at the car show and we had lots of activities. We've had really nice weather, so we'll have lots of people come out and enjoy the entertainment we provide," he said.

Friday kicked off with opening ceremonies and featured the tribute band Nowhere Band.

Saturday had a car show, pet show, the Lehigh Singing Sensations and the BBQ Cook-off, as well as performances by The Unforgiven Band and the Johnny Rogers band.

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Sunday was for the festival's royalty as the pageant winners were crowned. Even the babies earned sashes and crowns to start off the day, followed by the annual Diaper Derby, where the world's fastest crawlers and toddlers took part in the fastest 10 yards in all of sports.

From there, it was the Lehigh Spring Festival Prince/Princess Pageant. Xavi Caleb Flores-Morales walked away holding the title of the festival Prince, along with a whole lot of swag.

"He's such a handsome kid and I wanted him to be more exposed to these things," Glenda Flores, his mother, said. "My sister wanted me to convince him to do it, and he really didn't want to. So, I bribed him."

"I'm glad I won," Flores-Morales said. "I didn't want to do it, but my mom told me I could win $500 if I won. I'm going to buy a Wii."

The Princess title went to Asha Kanacheril, 6, who beat her sister and the other contestants.

Sheedra, Asha's mother, said it was a proud moment.

"I'm proud of both of them. I grew up here and I saw this in the footnotes, so I figured they try and compete together," she said. "She got some awesome prizes, too."

"I'm so excited," Asha said. "My favorite prize was the crown. I feel like a princess."

After the bubble gum blowing contest, it was time for the Junior Misses and Queens to hit the stage, starting off with a British-themed "Twist and Shout" number while they donned British costumes.

While it did not count toward their actual scores, the talent competition showed off the skills of the contestants. The talent portion ran the gamut from singing and dancing, to a comedy sketch from Cassandra Browning, who imitated a first-time on-air QVC host.

In the end, Samantha Brister won the talent contest with her rendition of Elvis' "Falling In Love" on the ukulele. She also won the Lehigh Spring Festival Queen title over the six other contestants.

It was not Brister's first rodeo, having won pageants before along with her sister.

"I'm super excited. I was surprised because there are a lot of great girls in this pageant," she said. "I won the Junior pageant before and my sister won two years ago. I had to bring the crown back."

Faith Carter won the Lehigh Spring Festival Junior Miss pageant, for ages 9 to 13. She could not believe that she had won over such a talented group.

"I didn't think it was me, then I looked down and saw my number and it was," she said. "There are so many other amazing girls who were so nice and anybody could win."

Carter competed with her sister.

"I had done it before and my sister wanted to, so she jumped in," she said.

The Lehigh Spring Festival will run through Saturday, March 18, at Veterans Community Park, at 55 Homestead Road S.

The schedule is as follows:

Today, March 15

- 6:30 p.m. Scavenger Hunt

- 6:30 p.m. Registration for Chili Contest (contest tent)

- 6:30 p.m. Horseshoe Tournament (behind beer garden)

- 8 p.m. Mark Phister Band

Thursday, March 16

Dress Like a Pirate Night

- 6:30 p.m. Scavenger Hunt

- 6:30 p.m. Registration for Flowers, Fruit and Vegetable Contests (contest tent)

- 6:30 p.m. Horseshoe Tournament (behind beer garden)

- 7:15 p.m. Pirate Costume Judging

- 7:30 p.m. Judging begins for contests

- 8 p.m. Lester Beleau Band

Friday, March 17

Free St. Patrick's Day beads

- 6:30 p.m. Scavenger Hunt

- 6:30 p.m. Horseshoe Tournament (behind beer garden)

- 7 p.m. Susan Katz Dance Studio

- 7:15 p.m. Wing Eating Contest (in beer garden)

- 8 p.m. Live N Learn

Saturday, March 18

- 10 a.m. Scavenger Hunt

- 10 a.m. Craft Show

- 11 a.m. Grand Parade (along Homestead Road, from Beth Stacey South to Arthur Avenue)

- 4 p.m. Showtime Cloggers

- 5:45 p.m. Horseshoe winners announced (Main Stage)

- 7 p.m. Dani Dease

- 8 p.m. ZstoneZ

Admission is free; a $4 parking donation per vehicle is requested, with the proceeds to benefit the Lehigh Youth Soccer League.

For more information, visit at: or visit on Facebook at "Lehigh Spring Festival."



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