2022 Strawberry Festival Royalty

Louisiana Strawberry Queen 50
Avery Meyers

Welcome to my hometown, where the sweetest red jewels are grown, the delicious strawberry!

As a native of Ponchatoula, my roots run deeply through our beautiful city. My great grandparents, Dennis and Evelyn Hebert, worked hard picking, packing, and shipping strawberries at a very young age. My great-grandfather was Strawberry King in 1997 and several family members of mine have also been Strawberry royalty before me.

As time went on my grandparents, Marcia and Phillip Bougere, Helped pioneer the very first strawberry festival known as the Berry Bonanza. They served our community as Ponchatoula Jaycees and Jaynes.

My parents, Emily Hatfield and Jeff Meyers, witnessed the service to community was important as well and continued the tradition of being members of the Ponchatoula Jaycees. My mother also served on the strawberry board for many years and that is when my dream of becoming Queen began.

When I was 4 years old, I told the Ponchatoula Times that I wanted to be Strawberry Queen just like my mother who was Queen in 1998. This always remained true, and as I grew older I gained even more knowledge each year to prepare myself to represent my hometown, the Ponchatoula Strawberry Festival, and especially our Strawberry Farmers.

I literally bleed strawberry red and can honestly say I wanted to carry on my family traditions and the legacy of my great grandparents.

I am now a senior at Southeastern Louisiana University majoring in Mass Communications. I am also a singer/songwriter and value art in every aspect from photography, graphic design, marketing, and even makeup. I also have music on all streaming platforms ranging from Spotify to Apple Music.

I have amazing and supportive co-parents, Emily and Clint Hatfield and Jeff and Paula Meyers. I have two beautiful sisters Allie Berteau and Abigail Meyers and two brothers Castin Hatfield and the late Briar Hatfield.

I am truly honored to be known by you all as The Louisiana Strawberry Queen 50. It has been a dream come true, and I still feel like I am living a fairytale.

I am looking forward to seeing all of you at our festival April 8, 9, 10th in 2022 to have the berry best time!

Berry truly yours,
Avery Meyers
Louisiana Strawberry Queen 50

Ponchatoula Strawberry Festival King
Carl R. Wells

Hello and welcome to the 50th Annual Ponchatoula Strawberry Festival. I am your Ponchatoula Strawberry Festival King 50, Carl R. Wells. I have been associated with and supported the Strawberry Festival since it’s inception, having served on the first board that organized the Berry Bonanza Days and having served as Grand Marshal 2010. I am honored and proud to serve with this year’s royalty. Our festival is important to the vitality of the strawberry industry and is second only to Mardi Gras in terms of the dynamics of the event to Louisiana, as it is free to enjoy for all our citizens and visitors. The festival board works tirelessly year-round to insure a safe and exciting festival, while at the same time providing fun, food, rides and entertainment that the whole family can enjoy.

I am a native and lifelong resident of Ponchatoula and grew up on my parent’s strawberry farm on the east side of town where I still reside. My parents, Wallace and Golda Poche Wells are listed on the Strawberry Wall of Fame located at City Hall. I served active duty in the United States Army after I graduated from Ponchatoula High School. After my military service, I returned home to attend Southeastern Louisiana University, graduating in 1966 with a B.S. in Agriculture. After college I served a short stint as a schoolteacher, before eventually finding my niche in the forest industry. I started my forest products career with Louisiana Cypress Lumber Company and eventually retired in October 2007 from Temple-Inland. My forestry career spanned over 41 years, primarily servicing Southeast Louisiana and South Mississippi, working out of Ponchatoula and Bogalusa. I continue to maintain a consulting service, assisting local landowners with property and forest related activities.

I have been active in many professional and community organizations through the years including the Ponchatoula Jaycees, the Ponchatoula Kiwanis Club, the Ponchatoula Chamber of Commerce, the PHS Boosters, the Lions Athletic Association, BSA-Troop 100, the Kappa Alpha Order Fraternity and both the Louisiana and Mississippi Forestry Associations. I serve on the Board of Directors of the Tangipahoa Parish Forestry Association. I also participated for many years in coaching little league baseball in the Ponchatoula City leagues, where my two sons played baseball. I am an active member of French Corner Baptist Church.

I was honored to serve as the 2010 Parade Grand Marshal for the Strawberry Festival. I was also named Outstanding Citizen by the Ponchatoula Chamber of Commerce in 1999.

I was one of the seven charter members of the original Strawberry Festival Board, when in its infancy, was known as the Berry Bonanza Days - I represented the Ponchatoula Chamber of Commerce.

I married Sandra Dominguez in 1964, also a Ponchatoula resident. We are the parents of two children, both sons, Kelly and Kevin. Kelly resides in Ponchatoula and Kevin resides in Mulberry, Florida with his wife Julie Hazen Wells. Kevin and Julie are the parents of three children, two girls, Hannah and Emily, and one son, Parker.

My knowledge of the strawberry industry, from both current and past experiences, will enable me to be an effective ambassador for the local strawberry industry as I serve this year as King. I began working in the strawberry fields as a young boy, as my parents and both of their families, Wells and Poche, were strawberry farmers at the height of the industry years ago. My wife Sandra and I maintained a crop of berries for many years, that assisted us in surviving as a young couple, as I was a college student. I also assisted for many years, in growing strawberry plants for the Boy Scouts of America Troop 100 to sell at the Strawberry Festival as a fundraiser.

We are blessed to have the current farmers in our area that continue to grow strawberries, because the farmers are the ones that make it all possible. The Ponchatoula Strawberry Festival is very special and I'm proud to be the King 50 to represent our community and the strawberry industry.

Ponchatoula Strawberry Festival Blossom
Willie Mae Vicknair Cummings

Hello and welcome to the berry sweetest festival around. My name is Willie Mae Vicknair Cummings and I am proud to be the 1st Ponchatoula Strawberry Festival Blossom. It is an honor to represent the hard-working farmers, local non-profits, and the family atmosphere that is the Ponchatoula Strawberry Festival.

I am the daughter of the late Wille Lee & Bertha Vicknair, and I have one sister Vergie Byers. My husband Gary Cummings and I have been married for 44 years. I have one daughter Brandy Cummings Miller, and two-step children the late Gary (Randy) Cummings II, and Lisa St. Martin. Together my husband and I have eight grandchildren, Kerri Cummings, Amber Comeaux, Trenton Cummings, Avery St. Martin, Jason Kelley, Trevor Cummings, Bailey Miller, and Garrett Miller, and two great-grandchildren Maylee Kilmer, and Oakley Cummings.

I am a home-grown Ponchatoula Native, and a 1972 Ponchatoula High school graduate. Who knew that 50 years after attending my 1st festival I would be able to promote the industry with my own title. In 1987 my husband and I started working on his family’s farm and taking part ownership of Cumming’s Strawberry Farm. During this time, I was a major part of the daily farm routine, I worked side by side with my husband. I have picked and packed the berries, made the deliveries, kept the books, and handled all the finances for the farm. I was the “woman” behind the scenes. We are now proud to say we have “officially” retired but still enjoy supporting our hometown of Ponchatoula, the strawberry industry, and local farmers.

I enjoy being socially active. I am a current member of the Twisted Diva’s Crafting group, The Girls Just Wanna Have Fun lady’s society, and I also participate in my monthly pokeno group. In my spare time, I enjoy going down the river, crafting, traveling, and spending time with my family and friends.

I have been a Strawberry King’s wife, and a Strawberry Queen’s mom, and now I hold the title of Blossom. I am so excited to represent my hometown of Ponchatoula, and the strawberry industry that has been a major part of my life. I want to encourage everyone to support farmers by buying local and to always be Louisiana proud. Please join me on April 8-10 for the 50th annual Ponchatoula Strawberry Festival. You will have a “Berry” good time.

Ponchatoula Strawberry Festival Grand Marshal
Margaret McKneely Joiner

Hello and Welcome! I am Margaret McKneely Joiner and proud to be a lifelong resident of Tangipahoa Parish. A Ponchatoula native, I proudly exclaim that I have attended every single Strawberry Festival since 1972. I have been involved with the strawberry industry and festival in a variety of ways – from my mom’s strawberry patch, to being Queen’s Mother, to Grand Marshal’s Wife, to Little Miss Strawberry Festival Queen’s Grandmother, and now as 2022 Grand Marshal. For the past 20 years, I have had the privilege of living directly across the street from Memorial Park. I enjoy opening my home to friends and family each year during the Ponchatoula Strawberry Festival.

A retired teacher, I enjoy volunteering for the Antique Trade Days – Arts & Craft Fair, serving as Vice President for Dante’s Hope Animal Rescue, and outings with my Red Hat group. My pride and joy is my family! I love picking up my grand and great-grandchildren from school many times a week and watching the adventures they take.

I was married to the late Sonny Joiner for nearly 20 years and am the mother of three daughters, one stepson, seven grandchildren, and two great granddaughters.

One festival that holds a special place in my heart is the 2000 festival when my daughter, Emily McKneely Matise was Queen and Sonny Joiner was Grand Marshal. Sonny and I were not married during that time, so Emily did a great job playing Cupid.

My love for the Ponchatoula Strawberry Festival runs long and deep. I am tremendously honored to be the 2022 Grand Marshal and look forward to promoting the strawberry industry and festival.