CAMANCHE — Sunshine and blue skies welcomed the 35th annual Camanche Days celebration and organizers couldn't have been more pleased.

The opening ceremonies kicked off Thursday with the crowning of the Camanche Days King and Queen, Prince and Princess, Little Prince and Little Princess and of course, the Camanche Days staple, Little Cuties competition.

Taking home the crown for King and Queen were Ed and Ruth Evans followed by Prince Chod Gilbert and Princess Brettan Hilgendorf.

With a record number of participants in this year's contest, Camanche Days president Brenda Larkey said she was thrilled with the amount of support and enthusiasm everyone brought to Thursday's ceremony.

"The turnout was just fantastic," she said. "We had 24 little cuties this year. That's the most we've ever had. And the crowd was great for all of them."

The Little Cuties boy division winner, Alijah Davis, topped all other Penny-A-Vote contestants by raising $366 in the annual Camanche Days fundraiser, which provides for kids' activities, prizes and games throughout the entire weekend.

His counterpart, Monroe Lemon, who won the girls division of the Little Cuties, raised $308, with both Little Prince Tristan Smith and Little Princess Ahriana Carbajal raising around $200 a piece.

Though raising money to help fund all of the children's events during Camanche Days is a plus, Larkey said the contest and all of Camanche Days isn't about how much money they make.

"The goal is always not a dollar amount," she said. "But the amount of smiles we see from the people and especially the kids of Camanche."

One smiling face present for Thursday's coronation ceremony was Camanche Mayor Ken Fahlbeck.

Each year, Fahlbeck provides a short speech thanking the committee and the city of Camanche for always supporting the Camanche Days festival. This year however, he gave a special thank you to Larkey for all the work she puts into the community event each year.

"She does so much for this event that she deserves an extra round of applause," he said to the crowd of people gathered at the Platt Park tennis courts.

With her thanks, Larkey drew the attention to the sponsors who help make Camanche Days a reality, including the residents who donate their time and money each year to make it successful.

Those community members collectively donated $1,736 during the door-to-door fireworks drive put on by the Camanche Days TEEN Board. That coupled with an additional $3,114 of sponsor donations is the most money ever raised during the fireworks drive and Larkey said the people will notice.

"Do you remember the fireworks last year?" she asked the crowd. "Well the show will be even better this year."

Which is when she will finally find time to relax — when the fireworks show has ended and they close up Camanche Days until next year.

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