The Lady of the Lake program has made a glorious, if unusual, return to Lake Cowichan.
The program had to make some changes this year due to the COVID-19 pandemic and the cancellation of Lake Days, but the beloved tradition came back after a two-year absence, and new royalty was crowned on Saturday, June 12.
Mariah Segee was named Lady of the Lake for 2021, with Megan Rowbottom as first princess and Macey Anderson as second princess. As part of the British Columbia Ambassador Program, the trio will represent the Cowichan Lake region to the rest of B.C. for the next year.
“They will make a great Ambassador team and we are very excited to have them represent our community,” said Jocelyn Lundberg, president and program coordinator of the Cowichan Lake Lady of the Lake program and program coordinator for the British Columbia Ambassador Program. “They all have different strengths and we look forward to working with them over the near year.”
Conducted largely online, this year’s program was unrecognizable in some way from those of past years. Training for the seven candidates began in early March, and all meetings were held via Zoom.
“We had a Toastmasters consultant conducting our speech training on Thursday evenings, as well as various other workshop facilitators who typically joined us for sessions on Tuesday evenings,” Lundberg related. “The candidates received the same core training and knowledge they would have received during a ‘normal’ year, however the method of delivery was just different.”
The judged pageant events took place in a different venue than in previous years, with approved COVID-19 protocols in place. While the events were not open for in-person attendance, they were all broadcast live on Facebook.
Lundberg thought the modified event was well-received by participants and the larger community.
“The convenience of Zoom meetings meant we could have workshops facilitators from different geographic areas and they didn’t need to worry too much about schedules or travel time,” she said. “Of course it was disappointing to the community, mainly friends and family of candidates, to not be able to watch the pageant events in-person; however the fact that the events were live-streamed also meant people from out of town could view the events. There were positives and negatives to this different format for sure, but like I tried to stress to our candidates, it’s important to view this as a new learning experience and an opportunity to learn a slightly different set of skills.”
In 2019, Lake Days went on without Lady of the Lake, and in 2020, both had to be cancelled. This year, Lady of the Lake took place without Lake Days, which Lundberg admitted felt strange.
“I think the feelings were the same as how people reacted to the online format,” she said. “That ‘community’ feeling was just missing.”
They tried to recreate that feeling with a drive-by parade on the morning of the awards and crowning ceremony. The candidates and their sponsoring organizations each set up a display in Ts’uubaa-asatx Square and community members were invited to drive past and show their support.
“It was a fun, COVID-19-friendly way to involve our sponsors and the public, and helped fill a little of the void of not being able to have a Lake Days parade for the girls to ride in,” Lundberg said.
In addition to the three ambassador titles, five awards were handed out based on the candidates’ participation and performance during the training period and pageant events. Segee received the Miriam Coghlan Memorial Award sponsored by Angie’s Esthetics and the Lundberg family and the Miss Congeniality award sponsored by Countrywide Village Realty, Rowbottom received the Essay Award sponsored by BRI Security and the Catherine Boeckber Memorial Award sponsored by the Friends of Catherine Boeckner, and Shandra Laframboise was named Miss Blossom, sponsored by Remedy Salon.