2020 Strawberry Festival Royalty

Louisiana Strawberry Queen XLIX
Samantha Marie Hebert

… Where the strawberries are sweet and everything is antique… Perfectly nestled in the heart of Louisiana’s berry belt, Ponchatoula celebrates its Klondike, the Strawberry, annually. Please join us in celebrating the Ponchatoula Strawberry Festival from the 3rd to the 5th of April 2020. We have so much to offer from berry delicious treats to bands that make you want to dance in the streets. I cannot wait to see you there!

Hi everyone! My name is Samantha Marie Hebert, your Louisiana Strawberry Queen XLIX. A recent graduate of Louisiana State University, I am currently a 1L at Loyola University New Orleans College of Law where I plan to get my Juris Doctor in Civil Law and a certificate in Environmental Law. Upon law school graduation, I dream of obtaining my Master of Laws in Maritime. Growing up, here, in South Louisiana has placed a desire in my heart to protect and defend our environment and navigational seas. When I am not studying or travelling our beautiful state, you can find me on-the-go. I keep myself surrounded by my amazing friends and family.

Overjoyed does not even begin to describe how I feel being your Louisiana Strawberry Queen XLIX. To be able to represent a community and industry so near and dear to my heart is a feeling that cannot be explained in words. The Ponchatoula Strawberry Festival has enhanced lives via economic growth, livelihood, farming education, and good ole fun. The festival portrays tradition, family, fun, and celebration of local, hard-working strawberry farmers- all of which, I proudly stand for. My great-grandfather, Sam Tantillo, was one of those hard-working strawberry farmers who farmed for over 30 years right here in the best parish, Tangipahoa. To be the 49th face that promotes and educates others on the economy that revolves around the Strawberry industry is a dream come true. Remember, shop local and thank a farmer!

Sweet love always,
Samantha Marie Hebert
Louisiana Strawberry Queen XLIX

Ponchatoula Strawberry Festival King
Braville J. LeBlanc

Hello and welcome to the 49th annual Ponchatoula Strawberry Festival. I am your 2020 Ponchatoula Strawberry Festival King, Braville J. LeBlanc. I have 9 years of service with the Strawberry Festival and am both humbled and proud to serve with this year’s royalty. This free event is second only to Mardi Gras in its magnitude. This festival board prides itself in providing fun, food and entertainment that the whole family can enjoy.

I am a life-long resident of Ponchatoula and a Ponchatoula High School Graduate. I am an Eagle Scout, Class of 1979. I attended Louisiana State University earning my Bachelor of Science degree in Electrical Engineering. I have over 30 years of experience in the oil and gas industry. I am active member of the Associated Builders and Contractors of Louisiana Bayou Chapter and was a founding member of the LSU Student Chapter of Instrument Society of America.

I am an active volunteer with 20 years of dedicated service with the Ponchatoula Volunteer Fire Department as a Fire Fighter and First Responder serving my 8th year as First Assistant Chief. I am a former Planning & Zoning Board member for the City of Ponchatoula and was elected in 2006 to represent Ponchatoula District “A” on the City Council. I have been selected numerous times by my council peers and currently serve as Mayor Pro Tempore. I am also an active member of the Ponchatoula Chamber of Commerce. I coached both of my sons in baseball for both Ponchatoula Dixie Youth Baseball and Holy Ghost school ball.

I am married to Lou Ann Ragan LeBlanc and have 2 children. Joshua is both an LSU graduate in Biological Sciences and a graduate of South College in Knoxville, TN with his Doctorate of Pharmacy. Tyler is a junior at Southeastern Louisiana University studying Engineering Technology. Please join me in supporting our local area farmers, local businesses and non-profit organizations who participate to make this festival a success. We welcome you April 3, 4 & 5 to help us celebrate the berry best festival this state has to offer.

Ponchatoula Strawberry Festival Grand Marshal
Linda Ball Ryan

I was born in Independence, Louisiana to Bob and Leona Ball, and grew up in Springfield. My high school sweetheart, Larry, and I have been married for 51 years. We have two children, Jeff and Ashley and six grandchildren, Lauren, Jackson, Averie, Lyndsey, Annalise and Jude. I also have three sisters, Lois Anglin, Gwyn Babin, and LaVon Samuels.

I am a graduate of Ponchatoula High School and Southeastern Louisiana University. I also received a certificate from Benz School 0f Floral Design at Texas A&M. I am a certified master floral designer and have been a professional floral designer for 48 years. I also taught floral design at SLU for 23 years. I am a member of the Hammond Garden Club and a member of the First United Methodist Church of Ponchatoula.

It is with great pleasure and honor to welcome you to the 2020 Ponchatoula Strawberry Festival. It all began in 1972 with a few food booths in a family atmosphere and has remained a family event. I attended the very first festival with my husband and 5 month old son and has been hooked ever since. I started working with Channel 17 in 1990. I have covered every Ponchatoula Strawberry Festival Parade since then.

We have something for all ages. Don’t miss our opening parade on Saturday morning, followed with games, contest, rides, food, and of course the judging of the best berries in town. Two music stages are constantly entertaining with big names entertainers. I know you will find the people of Ponchatoula glad to see you and welcome you to our community!

Ponchatoula Strawberry Festival Chairman
Shelley Matherne

Welcome to the 49th Louisiana Strawberry Festival!

When you visit our festival, you and your family are going to have a great time creating wonderful memories! You will also be supporting the Louisiana strawberry industry, our Louisiana farmers, our local non-profits and our community. Please look for the official booth signs and grab a booklet to help you see all that we have to offer. Visit Farmer’s Row on N 6th Street to buy your strawberries right from our local farmers. Then, visit the food and drink booths on the official festival grounds to support all of the local non-profit civic organizations.

My Ponchatoula roots run deep. I was born and raised here along with many generations before me. My great-grandparents were Elizabeth Drude & Peter Kraft. Their daughter, Mildred, was married to my grandfather, Lawrence Miller. I am the proud daughter of Susan Miller Douglas and the late Dale Douglas, Sr. My husband, Brad Matherne, and I have been married for 15 years. We have one daughter, Brylee Elizabeth who is 8 years old. Brad and I are blessed with two beautiful nieces, Brittany and Olivia, and four amazing godchildren, Ashley, Jeremy, Nathan and Micah. I am a graduate of Ponchatoula High School and Southeastern Louisiana University. I have been part of the Elmer Chocolate family for the past 11 years.

Volunteering and giving back to the community has always been a passion of mine. In 2008, I joined the Ponchatoula Jaycees. They are one of the founding organizations of the Ponchatoula Strawberry Festival and have continued to build leaders and serve our community in so many different ways through the years. While serving as President of the Ponchatoula Jaycees in 2013, I was selected to be one of the two Jaycee voting members that sit on the Strawberry Festival Board. This was a huge honor for me. I had always admired the work of the Festival Board, but never realized I would actually have the chance to be a part of it. I served three years as a voting member, two years as the Public Relations Officer and served last year as Chairman-Elect. I have learned so much through the years and have made so many wonderful friendships. I have a much deeper appreciation and love for this community than ever before. I am so excited to be your 2020 Chairman and look forward to creating memories that will last a lifetime.

On behalf of the Ponchatoula Strawberry Festival Board, we hope to see you on April 3rd, 4th and 5th. You’ll find everything strawberry along with the best food, rides and music entertainment around. We know you will have a berry good time!