2017 Strawberry Festival Royalty

Louisiana Strawberry Queen XLVI
Katie Renee Robinson

Hello everyone and welcome to my hometown of Ponchatoula, Louisiana! I’m so glad you’re all here to see why we call our little town “Strawberry Paradise”. I hope each and every one of you have a berry sweet time as we celebrate the 46th annual Ponchatoula Strawberry Festival. Take the time to eat your weight in strawberries. You can find them fried, chocolate covered, stuffed, mixed in drinks, or baked into delicious, sweet treats. Enjoy a stroll through this beautiful Antique City and you’ll see that the people here are just as sweet as our strawberries!

I’m so honored to be your 46th Louisiana Strawberry Queen. I am the 23-year-old daughter of Jeremy and Amy Robinson and I have one younger brother, Trevor Robinson, who all enjoy the festival just as much as I do. I was born and raised right here in Ponchatoula. I attended Ponchatoula High School where I graduated as Valedictorian in 2011. I also recently graduated with honors from Southeastern Louisiana University in 2015 with a Bachelor’s Degree in the Science of Nursing and I am currently employed as a Registered Nurse at a local hospital.

The strawberry industry is something that I hold very near and dear to my heart. It has been such an honor traveling throughout the state of Louisiana promoting my town and my festival. The memories made this year will forever be etched in my mind and the friendships formed will always hold a special place in my heart.

Growing up in Ponchatoula, I’ve learned how important our farmers are to our town, our community, and our economy. I want to extend a tremendous thank you to each and every farmer in the state of Louisiana who work year round to produce this precious crop. It brings me so much joy and pride to see everyone coming together this time of year to buy, share, and enjoy local Louisiana strawberries. It is truly a privilege and an honor to represent my festival, my community, and my farmers!

I’d also like to thank my King, Mr. Bill Wheat; my Chairman, Mr. Jimmy Schliegelmeyer; my Grand Marshal, Mrs. May Stilley; and the entire Strawberry Festival Board for all that you have done for me and for this festival. It would not be what it is today without all of your hard work and dedication. Your love for our town and festival has made me love it all the more. I love each and every one of you and I thank you for making my year as Queen one that I will never forget.

Have a Berry sweet time at the Berry best festival in Louisiana!

Katie Renee Robinson

Louisiana Strawberry Queen XLVI

2017 Ponchatoula Strawberry Festival King
Bill Wheat

Growing up on a small farm on the east side of my hometown of Ponchatoula, strawberries were always a part of my childhood. Whether it was my parents, Bill and Athlea Wheat who raised strawberries to supplement their income or my grandmother, Katie Robertson Mathews, who made farming her means of supporting her family, I enjoyed the benefits of their labor with an abundance of these fresh, juicy strawberries which are unlike anywhere else in the world.

As a tribute to their hardwork and family values, I am honored to be the 2017 Ponchatoula Strawberry Festival King. It is with great pleasure that I, along with my wife, Andrea Hebert Wheat and four children; Derek, Dana, Kristen and Kellie welcome everyone to our City of Ponchatoula for this year's Ponchatoula Strawberry Festival.

Every year since 1972, our community celebrates a long history and tradition of strawberry farming with a festival that honors our dedicated farmers. Like these farmers who work year round to produce the best strawberries anywhere in the world, our Strawberry Festival Board, made up of civic club members and volunteers, is working tirelessly on planning our festival to make it the greatest festival in Louisiana.

We are proud of our farmers and our City of Ponchatoula. Our secret to our beautiful berries and our charming community share some common ingredients including a fertile environment for growth, hard working people, respect for life, and a love of neighbors.

Thank you for your visit and enjoy everything our Strawberry Festival has to offer. On the main festival grounds at Memorial Park you will find a wide variety of food and entertainment including; music, games, rides, and tons of booths manned by the many non-profit organizations who raise money for wonderful causes. Don't miss the strawberry eating contest, egg toss, and sack races! Be sure to schedule your activities around the Strawberry Bidding Auction. These are definitely worth seeing. Heck, you could even take home the grand champion Flat of Strawberries!

All around our beloved City of Ponchatoula, the “Strawberry” will be highlighted everywhere you look. So, be sure to explore 6th Street, Hickory Street, and the main festival grounds. Go uptown and visit our many wonderful antique shops and craft alley (on SE Railroad Ave). Check out the train depot and be sure to visit one of our most prestigious citizens, “Ole Hardhide”, our community alligator who knows all about our city.

Make it a challenge to see how many different ways you can enjoy our majestical fruit “The Strawberry”. A few suggestions might include Strawberry Shortcake, Chocolate Dipped Strawberries, Fried Strawberries, Strawberry Beignets, Strawberry Cheesecake or maybe a Strawberry Daiquiri. Personally, my favorite way to enjoy them is fresh right off the stem. So, buy a flat and bring some home to extend the fun!

My beautiful queen, Katie Robinson, and I will be touring all around our city,and our Parade Grand Marshall, May Stilley, will reign over the parade. Give us a shout out! We would love to visit and share our stories about strawberries and what makes our City of Ponchatoula such a great place to visit and live.

Again, have a pleasant visit to our town for the 2017 Strawberry Festival but don't wait so long to come back for another good time.

Have a Berry Special Time!

2017 Ponchatoula Strawberry Festival King
Bill Wheat

2017 Ponchatoula Strawberry Festival Chairman
Jimmy Schliegelmeyer

Our 2017 chairman is Jimmy Schliegelmeyer. He is the first of three sons of Jimmy and Evon, and is the father of Gavin and Colby. His maternal grandparents, Mr. & Mrs. Robert Jenkins, raised strawberries west of Ponchatoula until turning over the farm to their son, the 1982 Strawberry King, Jesse Jenkins. In addition, his paternal grandparents, John and Willie Lee Schliegelmeyer, also grew strawberries until the late 1950s.

He is a 1986 graduate of Ponchatoula High School where he was a member of the band throughout his high school years. After graduation, he worked for Lowes until he accepted a job at Brown and Root in Norco, Louisiana. With the rapidly growing home building industry and the desire to own his own business, he became a licensed residential contractor and electrical contractor. In his spare time, Jimmy enjoys scuba diving and is an avid LSU and Saints fan.

He is a member of St Joseph's Catholic Church and has supported the PHS Band for 8 years as an active member of the Band Boosters. Jimmy enjoys volunteering, organizing and participating in many fundraising activities throughout community and finds great joy in helping others by making himself available whenever possible.

His involvement on the Strawberry Festival Board progressed from his many years of dedicated service to local civic organizations that participate in the festival. In 2009, Jimmy became a member of the Strawberry Festival board as the chairman of the construction committee. Jimmy was instrumental in remodeling the Strawberry Festival building as well as the construction of the ticket booth and kitchen renovations. He spends countless hours planning and assisting in preparing for the festival.

Jimmy welcomes you to the 2017 Ponchatoula Strawberry Festival!