2021 Klamath Basin Potato Festival Queen Message
The Klamath Basin and Potatoes go together like French fries and ketchup. The Potato Festival is a time when people come together to celebrate the importance of hard work and dedication to tradition. The Potato Festival Queen’s Court is an honored tradition that allows for new friends, and new challenges, and teaches the students from every school in the Klamath Basin the power of a community brought together by agriculture. The festival allowed me to represent the town I call home and to make connections with the people I would never have met otherwise. To the future contestants, my advice would be to have fun and make so many memories, and remember your chaperones always have your back! I met the most loving and supportive group of people, which gave me the confidence to rise above my fears. I have had a stutter my whole life, which can sometimes alter the way that I present myself. I was terrified to talk to strangers for fear that I would get caught in a stutter and the people I was selling to wouldn’t understand me. At the beginning of the festival, I remember crying out of fear before selling tickets, but my community and the people involved with the festival gave me the confidence and the strength to believe in myself! I was able to double my ticket quota, and I saw so much growth in who I am as a person. Next year I will be attending Purdue University in Indiana, but I am taking the lessons I’ve learned growing up in the homeplace of the Potato Festival with me. (The Potato Festival Queen will be my fun fact whenever I’m asked!) Winning the title of Potato Festival representing Lost River is an honor, and I give thanks to everyone who supported me along the way. To everyone who rooted for me and supported Lost River by buying tickets, I thank you; not only because it helped me come closer to a better future, but for supporting the festival that brings so many people together. And to the future Potato Festival Queen candidates, I wish you all the best, and remember to have fun!
2022 Klamath Basin Potato Festival Queen Candidates
Henley – Karishma Malakar Hernandez
Karishma Malakar is Henley High School’s Potato Festival Candidate. Karishma is the youngest of four kids and the daughter of Kiran and Vitalina Malakar. Karishma is an active member of her community and an involved student at Henley High School. In her studies, Karishma is kept busy with her full schedule of honors and dual-credit college courses through Klamath Community College and the Oregon Institute of Technology. Aside from academics, Karishma enjoys participating in extracurricular activities. She serves as Henley’s student body vice president, a member of the Honor Society and Key Club, and actively volunteers for a nonprofit program that assists food-insecure individuals in her community. While these activities have exposed Karishma to different causes, teachings, and opportunities, her early involvement with Migrant Summer School, where she volunteers as a student tutor and has become a friendly and familiar face to students, is now a tradition and something she looks forward to volunteering at every summer. Karishma’s dedication to her community stems from her late grandfather, who is her inspiration for running for Potato Festival Queen. Her grandfather dedicated his life to agriculture, serving various local farmers and businesses in Merrill, Malin, and Klamath Falls including Cheyne Brothers and Circle C Marketing. Her grandfather’s passion for agriculture and commitment to his community reminds Karishma of the importance and value of work ethic and rural communities like hers. As a candidate for Potato Festival Queen, Karishma hopes to continue her grandfather’s legacy by using her platform to share her passion. In the future, Karishma’s platform will further support her desire to continue giving back to her community after graduating high school. As Karishma goes on to pursue a career as a secondary school teacher, her services to others will continue in a new form.
Eagle Ridge – LeOna Sparrow Santos
Representing Eagle Ridge High School, LeOna Santos was born in Houston, Texas, and raised in Klamath Falls, Oregon. She is the daughter of Marta Mixell and Walter Santos and the 2nd oldest of four siblings. She is Incan Peruvian and a Cherokee descendant. She is a part of the National Honors Society as well as Sources of Strength and Leadership at her school. She competes in volleyball, basketball, and track. She also coaches and referees local youth sports, all while maintaining a 4.0 GPA. She has been a suicide awareness advocate with the You Matter Movement for 4 years and speaks publicly about her experience with mental health and how she worked through her struggles with suicide. LeOna has found a way to incorporate her indigenous side by performing a spiritual healing tradition called Jingle dancing. She grew up learning the meaning and art behind Jingle dancing and now dances for the sick and her ancestors that couldn’t dance for themselves. Her culture has allowed her to connect with animals which later grew into a passion. At the age of 9, she became the youngest permanent worker at the Badger Run Rehab Center, which helped her earn over 1,000+ hours of community service. This leads her to receive 2 gold presidential awards for outstanding work in her community. Although animals are one of her many passions, her other passion and future career is makeup. Makeup artistry has always been a creative outlet for her. Growing up, LeOna struggled with many bullies which caused her to be introverted, which developed into anxiety and suicidal thoughts. Makeup became her way of communicating with her family and at the end of the day made her feel like the best version of herself. After high school, she plans to attend the cosmetology program in Klamath Falls to get her Esthetician License and then move on to getting a Cosmetic Chemistry degree at The University of Oregon, in pursuit of her goal to create an environmentally friendly makeup line. She feels it is an honor to be able to represent Eagle Ridge High School, which helps young adults learn who they are and get where they are going.
KU – Jordyn Bowers
Jordyn Bowers, Klamath Union High School’s candidate, was raised in Klamath Falls. She is the daughter of John and Patricia Bowers, and sister to Helena Boggs.
Jordyn is very involved in the arts program at Klamath Union, where she is the president of the yearbook, and has a leadership role in the Chamber and Acapella Choir. She has been on the honor roll since her freshman year and is involved in the National Honors Society and other extracurriculars. Jordan also takes honors and dual credit classes through SOU, OIT, and KCC.
Jordyn plans to enlist in the military, then pursue college and a degree in criminology.
Lost River – Alicia Venegas
Alicia Venegas of Lost River Jr./Sr. High School has been raised in Malin, Oregon her entire life. She is the youngest daughter of Carlos and Connie Venegas and has three siblings. Her father, Carlos, works as a mechanic for a strawberry planting company and her mother, Connie, works at Oregon Child Development Coalition and serves on the Malin City Council. Alicia believes these ties to her community and agriculture are what fostered her passion for both. She’s grateful to have the privilege of serving as the Lost River FFA Chapter President and Southern Oregon FFA District President, which both allow her to contribute to her community and advocate for agriculture. At school, Alicia is an Honor Roll student and is a part of the National Honors Society, Leo’s Club, FFA, and FBLA, as well as participating in softball and volleyball. Outside of school, Alicia enjoys raising Market Lambs and working with her dad and brother to raise and show their Jersey cattle. After high school, Alicia plans to further her education and eventually become an agricultural educator. She believes the development of young minds and instilling a value for service and agriculture are very important tasks. She is excited and honored to represent Lost River in the 2022 Klamath Basin Potato Festival!
Mazama – Maren Holbrook
Maren Holbrook is a senior at Mazama High School. She is the daughter of Craig and Myndy Holbrook and has an older sister, Baylin, and a younger sister, Reagan. Her dad is the manager of the Prather Ranch Meat Processing Plant and her mom is a teacher at Mazama High School. Maren has a long family history of farming and ranching in the Klamath Basin. Maren is involved in student government, basketball, and softball at Mazama. She has also participated in cross country and was an FFA officer. Maren is very involved in 4-H. She has been a member of 4-H for 9 years, where she has held several officer positions, has been a junior and teen leader, and completed photography, rabbits, replacement heifers, and swine projects. She has won multiple awards for all projects she has completed. Through 4-H, Maren has participated in numerous community service activities, such as community clean-up, senior citizen luncheons, making blankets for seniors at Christmastime, and canned food drives. Maren enjoys hanging out with friends and family, paddleboarding, hunting, watching the Golden State Warriors play, and showing pigs. After high school, Maren plans to attend Shasta or Feather River College where she will pursue a degree to become a school counselor.
Tulelake – Analeisa Greenwood
Analeisa Greenwood is Tulelake High School’s Potato Festival candidate. She was raised in the small town of Tulelake by her adopted parents Paul and Mindy Greenwood. Analeisa is very involved in FFA and is currently her chapter president. She competes in Agronomy and after placing first as a team and an individual at state, she went to nationals and placed as well. Analeisa is also now a member of the AG Mechanics team that placed 3rd last year at the state finals. She plays volleyball, basketball, softball, and track, is a member of ASB and the Rotary Interact Club, maintains above a 4.0 GPA, and enjoys raising her market sheep for fair each year. In addition to running for the Klamath Basin Potato Festival, Analeisa is also Ms. Tulelake for the Tulelake-Butte Valley fair. Analeisa is currently enlisted in the United States Army, after graduation she will be leaving for boot camp and AIT to become a 15T UH-60 Helicopter repairer. She plans to work her way to becoming crew chief for the Blackhawk helicopter.