Karlie Carol White was named "Queen Yam" of this October's 76th annual East Texas Yamboree festival Friday, continuing a family tradition since her late grandmother and two of her aunts held the title.
She won a 12-day contest of selling tickets to Yamboree events and collectible souvenir "chips" featuring the festival's logo. The seven contestants for queen, all high school girls sponsored by civic clubs, raised a collective total of $163,038, said Kelly Stretcher, president of the First National Bank of Gilmer.
The new queen will reign over the Yamboree Oct. 16-19, receiving her crown in two performances of the annual coronation/pageant Oct. 17. The festival annually draws thousands to Gilmer.
Stretcher announced Miss White, nominee of the 20th Century Club, as the winner in a ceremony at the bank late Friday afternoon. Melani Williams, daughter of Eric Williams and Sherry Rawls and nominee of the Gilmer Bluebonnet Club, was runner-up, he announced.
Miss White, a 17-year-old Gilmer High School senior, is the daughter of Kelly and Deana White. The new queen's grandmother, Carol Cox White, reigned over the 1954 Yamboree, while Miss White's aunts, Tory Mitchell and Kay White Bowles, held the title in 1986 and 1988, respectively.
"It's been a tradition in my family, and I just wanted to keep it ongoing," the new Queen Yam said after learning she won. Although her grandmother who won the title died before the new queen was born, Miss White said, "Ever since I was little, I wanted to be like her."
She said she was "so excited" to be named Queen Yam, adding "It's such a blessing … I really did work hard." She noted she was ill during part of the contest.
Miss White aspires to become a pediatrician and eventually work with children in underprivileged areas as "I love kids." She plans to major in pre-med at Texas A&M University before entering medical school.
She traced her interest in medicine to the fact her parents work in the medical field. Her father is a firefighter/paramedic for the Longview Fire Department, and her mother is a radiologist at the Diagnostic Clinic of Longview.
The new queen is the granddaughter of Kenneth and Raye White of Gilmer, Drew and Earline Daniels of Gilmer, and Tommy and Penne Duke of Longview.
Other candidates for Queen Yam this year and their sponsors included Emily Buettner, Gilmer Lions Club; Macy Elms, Gilmer Rotary Club; Shaylee Fennell, Beta Sigma Phi; Iesha Fluellen, Iris Garden Club; and Katelynn Meadows, Kiwanis Club of Gilmer.
All are Gilmer High School students except Miss Elms, who attends Harmony High School. Miss White succeeds Paige Linder, who last year became the first Queen Yam from Gladewater.