GILMER — A family tradition continued Friday as Alexis Marie Williams, a Gilmer High School senior, was named “Queen Yam” to reign over this October’s 77th annual East Texas Yamboree festival.
The 17-year-old daughter of Brian and Irma Williams is the great niece of two prior Queen Yams and the niece of a third. In addition, her father and grandfather are among four of her relatives who are past Yamboree presidents.
Miss Williams was among seven high school girls, representing local civic clubs, who competed for the title by selling tickets to Yamboree events and souvenir Yamboree chips. The 12-day contest ended Friday.
The new queen, nominee of the Twentieth Century Club and granddaughter of Paul David and Barbara Williams, was announced by Yamboree President Randy Duke in a late afternoon ceremony at the First National Bank of Gilmer.
The contestants collectively raised $130,614, Duke said.
Jaden Brooke Green, representative of the Gilmer Lions Club, was named runnerup.
Miss Williams told the Tyler Morning Telegraph that her relatives’ serving as Queen Yam was one reason she sought the title.
“It feels very awesome” to win it, although “I was really nervous” both running for and receiving the title, she said.
She will be crowned in two performances of the annual coronation/pageant at the Gilmer Civic Center on Oct. 15 and 16. The annual four-day festival, which draws thousands to Gilmer, is set for Oct. 15 to 18.
Miss Williams’ great aunts, sisters Donna Williams Farris and Nancy Williams Sawyer, served as Queen Yam in the 1960s while the new queen’s aunt, Tracy Williams, won the title in 1992.
The new queen’s father was Yamboree president in 2004. His father, Paul David Williams, held that title in 1985, while Paul David’s brother, Steve Williams, was president in 1980, and their father, the late Don Williams, held the title in 1950.
Miss Williams aspires to be a licensed massage therapist. Active in the Gilmer High School junior ROTC, she said she likes “to hang out with my family” and listen to country music.
She is a member of First United Methodist Church of Gilmer and succeeds Karlie White, who presented her a floral bouquet upon her being named queen.
This year’s other contestants and their sponsoring clubs included Bayley Noel LeGrand, Beta Sigma Phi; Savanna Nicole Jenkins, Bluebonnet Club; Erica Shavon Wesley, Iris Garden Club; Peyton Nicole Carter, Kiwanis Club of Gilmer; and Lauren Haylee Jones, Gilmer Rotary Club.