Houchin crowned at coronation

Hints of rain gave way to a beautiful sunny day for the coronation of Maid Silvia LXXVII Ashley Elizabeth Houchin on the campus of Davis & Elkins College Friday.

“It is a beautiful day, just a little overcast but with a nice breeze,” Mountain State Forest Festival Assistant Director Rich Nida said just before the ceremony. “The attendance for the coronation started out slow, but has picked up. That is usually the case when the weather is good – people shop for crafts and take in events right up to the start of the coronation.”

The coronation began with the presentation of the colors by the West Virginia Highlanders of Davis & Elkins College, including Dr. Randy Blackburn, Jenny Gear, Charlie McElwain and Brennen Weese. The McChoir Sisters performed the national anthem. Elkins resident Clark Martin served as announcer for the afternoon event.

Next to ascend Coronation Hill were the royal irumpeteers. Elkins High School senior Andrew Tenney, Elkins High School sophomore Alex Mach and Elkins High School senior Sara Weiford announced the royal court with many well-played fanfares. The trio’s tuxedos were sponsored by JoJo’s Floral.

This year’s Woodly the Elf is Elkins Middle School sixth-grade student Alexis Ayers. Her costume through most of the week included a green tunic with leaves, but by Friday, her tunic had turned red, just like the leaves on the trees.

Royal Scouts Mara Allegra Looney-Sanders, Lydia Kathryn Plishka, Aidan Garland Hedrick and Micah Lee Toney joined the entourage on the stage, and later in the program, helped the Honorable C. Randy Dye with the presentation of a tree.

The Royal Court Noblemen were next down Coronation Hill. The Honorable Randall Reid-Smith, director of West Virginia Archives and History, presented the history of the Mountain State Forest Festival. He also led the audience in singing “West Virginia Hills.”

The remainder of the group made their way to center stage, including Sen. Gregory Tucker, D-Nicholas; Del. William G. Hartman, D-Randolph; Elkins Mayor Van Broughton; Del. Denise Campbell, D-Randolph; state Commissioner of Agriculture Walt Helmick; President of Davis & Elkins College Dr. Michael Mihalyo; and Earl Ray Tomblyn, governor.

The princesses of Maid Silvia’s court then made their way down coronation hill, two-by-two adorned in distinct colors of the forest: Colleen Webley and April Kesling were in mountain mauve; Kaylee Rosencrance and Danielle Funk wore purple majesty; Erica Walker and Rachel Stuart wore slatestone; Lauren Young and Caroline Hamrick were in cardinal red; Abagail Bodkins and Alexis Bodkins wore warm brown; Chelsea Faris and Adrianna Bowley were in whispering pine; Kelcia Mullins and Elizabeth Proudfoot were in scarlet maple; Toni Binns and Hanna Ludwick were in blue flame; Alexandria White and Courtney McCauley wore royal grey; Jocelyn Phares and Amy Armentrout wore majestic ruby; Victoria Dorsey and Brianna Swecker wore rhododendron; Alissa Kerns and Taylor Epperson wore royal purple; Santana Beck and Erin Murphy wore smokestone; Gabriella Constable and Kaitlyn Collette wore wineberry; Rachel Facemire and Ashley Summers were in chestnut brown; Carson Cunningham and Jacqueline Everly wore forest green; Brittany Spencer and Jordan Holt were in holly berry; Stephanie Mace and Olivia Dotson wore evening mist; and Brittany Hall and Tennyson DeMarco wore royal red.

Next to descend coronation hill were flower girls Hannah Lee Phillips, Anna Grace Belan, Haleigh Marie Riggleman, Olivia Mae Harris, Addison Willow Berdine and Lauren Taylor Dodds, followed by Maids of Honor Amber Marie Karlen and Kara LeeAnne Parrack. Following the maids were Scepter Bearer Darby Denmark Bailey and Crown Bearer Ellyse Spencer Goddard.

As Houchin began her descent down the hill, the sun sparkled on the beading on her gown. Train bearers Ryan Paul DiBacco and William Chase Watson followed Silvia to her place on the stage. Following her were the Royal Jesters Morgan Lynn McCollam, Ani Ruth Reger and Alyssa Kristen Thompson.

Tomblin moved to center stage where he crowned Houchin. After her crowning, officials presented her with gifts.

Elkins resident Andrew Montgomery sang “Silvia,” a song written for the occasion by John Angotti.

After the ceremony, everyone was invited to the Queen’s Reception at Hallihurst Mansion.