1974 Dairy Festival Queen Lasca Williams Anderson.
1974 Dairy Festival Queen Lasca Williams Anderson lives in Destrehan, La.
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The Golden Jubilee: 1974 Dairy Festival Queen won title in gown purchased at a garage sale

By TERRY MATHEWS, News-Telegram Arts Editor

Oct. 19, 2008 - When 1974 Dairy Festival Queen Lasca Williams Anderson needed an evening gown for the competition, her mother, Mary Jo Williams, came through.

"My mother had a friend whose daughter was selling her evening gowns," Anderson said. "So, she bought one of the dresses at a garage sale for $25. It had only been worn once. I would never have told anyone about this at the time, but now it is funny."

Anderson's mother was raised in the Peerless community, the daughter of Bessie Arnold and granddaughter of Johnny and Agnes Evans. Anderson was born in Dallas, but moved back to Hopkins County when she was in the third grade.

"Mother always wanted a dairy, but dad was a city boy and never agreed," she said. "We did have other animals on the farm."

Anderson graduated from Sulphur Springs High School in 1975, where she was voted "Friendliest" by her classmates.

After high school graduation, she married and became a stay-at-home mom.

"I was a member of the Mother's Culture Club," she said. "I served as their president one year, and I was actively involved in First Baptist Church, where I taught Sunday school, children's choir, Girls in Action and vacation bible school."

Anderson and her husband, Stan, a native of Bogata in Red River County, have two daughters, April Wilkie of Luling, La., and Amber Wieniewitz of Knoxville, Tenn.; and three grandchildren, Madeline Wilkie, 7, Jacob Wilkie, 3, and Abbie Wieniewitz, 2.

In 1985, Anderson enrolled at East Texas State University, receiving a bachelors of science degree in education with a math specialization in 1988.

"After graduation, I started teaching sixth grade at Brandenburg Middle School in Garland," she said. "Of course, we moved to Garland, where we lived until my husband was transferred to New Orleans."

"We moved to Destrehan, La., during the Christmas holidays in 1991, and I started teaching sixth grade math at Cammon Middle School in the parish," Anderson said. "I was selected to be a member of the New Century Leadership Team and as a turn-around trainer for the school district."

She also provided lesson design training for new teachers until she was moved into an administrative position.

In 1998, Anderson received a masters of education with administrative certification from Southeastern University in Hammond, La. She served as an assistant principal for six years before being selected to serve as principal of the satellite center, a school for juniors and seniors.

In 2003, Anderson was nominated by her peers to receive the St. Charles Parish Public School's "School Administrative Support Employee of the Year" award.

Anderson has fond memories of her preparation for the Dairy Festival pageant.

"Building the float, preparing for the competition, attending meetings and practices took time," Anderson said. "But it was fun and worth every minute. It is a great opportunity to improve yourself and meet new people."

For the talent portion of the competition, Anderson chose the song, "I'm Just a Girl Who Can't Say No" from the popular musical "Oklahoma."

"It took a while to find the right song," she explained. "I remember looking at music with my best friend Patti Harbor. My friends teased me about the title of the song."

Anderson remembers wearing a "peach dress, gloves that my mother wore at her wedding and a big floppy hat." The stage seemed huge to Anderson, so she found an old trunk backstage that was being used in another part of the program, so she asked if she could use it.

Anderson said, "It was scary getting in front of the large crowd. The only thing that saved me was that the spotlights prevented me from seeing the audience. I was still scared, but I just remembered my drill team training to 'look up and smile.'"

The Business and Professional Women's Club sponsored Anderson in the pageant.

"Mrs. Jimmie Harbor was the one who came to me and asked that I represent the club," Anderson said. "I never imagined having this opportunity. I was just a girl who was raised in the country. I was honored to be asked. Then, being selected as queen, wow!"

When it came time to practice crowning the queen, pageant officials asked Anderson to demonstrate what to do because, as she says, "I was the one closest to the emcee. I laughed because I knew I would not win."

But win she did. And she made her father cry.

"My dad, the late Herbert Williams, cried when I was crowned," Anderson said. "I don't know if he was crying because he was proud of me or because he knew we were going to be responsible for storing the Queen's float."

As it turned out, Mr. Williams didn't have to worry for very long, as Tim Kelty allowed the family to store the float in one of his buildings.

Anderson advises young women to enter the pageant because, "being in the Dairy Festival gives you confidence and the opportunity to meet new people and to represent Hopkins County."

(Editor's Note: In June 2009, the Hopkins County Dairy Festival will celebrate its 50th anniversary. In the weeks leading up to the festival, the News-Telegram will visit with former Dairy Festival queens to reminisce about the festival, the pageant and what it meant to wear the crown.)

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