Our 2024 Willmar Fests Candidates


This year we welcome nine young women who will be vying to represent the City of Willmar as Willmar Fests Queen of Festivals, International Princess and Aqua Princess.

Adrianna Rodriguez - Sponsored by: Heritage Bank
Bethany Molash - Sponsored by: Slumberland Furniture
Dena Mathison - Sponsored by: Walt's
Deshawna Hodges - Sponsored by: Maurices
Esmeralda Conde - Sponsored by : Minnwest Technology Campus
Isabelle Eller - Sponsored by: Trena Clark, Edina Realty
Rae Holwerda - Sponsored by: Jess Kubesh, Edina Realty
Taylee Pahl - Sponsored by: Willmar Bus Service
Thelma Benitez - Sponsored by: Primrose Boutique

We would also like to thank Amy Hauge at Amy Hauge Photography for capturing such beautiful photos of these young ladies. We have many more to share in their spotlights throughout the day!

Adrianna Rodriguez

Adrianna Rodriguez is the 18-year-old daughter of Cindy Lubenow and Eleovardo Rodriguez Sr. She is the second youngest of six and is very family oriented. Her siblings are Roland, Eleovardo Jr., Jonathan, Maria and Alex Rodriguez. Adrianna is a Willmar Senior High graduate of the class of 2023. She is also the first of her siblings to graduate from high school. During her time in school, she was involved in pep band and student council. Adrianna has been playing trumpet for 4 years and the baritone for over 3 years. She loves music and everything it has to offer. While in student council, Adrianna helped plan and coordinate many events. She loves to be organized. Adrianna is currently attending Ridgewater college and is planning to pursue a major in marketing. She is also employed at Walmart in the pharmacy and is planning to become a Certified Pharmacy Technician. Adrianna loves her job and all the learning opportunities and new experiences it has to offer. In her free time, she loves reading, going to the gym, shopping, hanging out with friends and being around her family.

Adrianna’s Willmar Fests Sponsor is Heritage Bank.

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Bethany Molash

Bethany Molash is the 19-year-old daughter of Tommy and Amy Molash. She is a Willmar Senior High 2023 honors graduate. While in high school, Bethany participated in dance at The Main Pointe School of Dance where she also helped out with some of the classes offered to younger dancers. She also enjoyed participating in school musicals, track and field, and FFA where she served as the chapter’s secretary her senior year. Bethany currently attends college at Minnesota State University, Mankato where she is majoring in Elementary Education and hopes to be able to make a difference in her students’ lives. During Bethany’s first year of college, she volunteered at Lincoln Community Center in Mankato where she had the opportunity to be in a classroom helping students learn English. Outside of school, she works at Kwik Trip in Mankato and Runnings in Willmar. During her free time, Bethany enjoys being outdoors, singing loudly in her car, and spending time with her friends and family.

Bethany’s Willmar Fests Sponsor is Slumberland Furniture.

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Dena Mathison

Dena Mathison is the 19-year-old daughter of Steve and Jeri Ann Mathison. She is a 2023 graduate of Willmar Senior High School. While in high school, Dena was involved in volleyball, choir, 2701, and Key Club. She also managed baseball and attended Ridgewater College through PSEO. Dena enjoyed volunteering at Kennedy Elementary with the Lunch Buddy program and with preschoolers in Kidsworld at Willmar Assembly of God Church. Dena decided to further her education at University of Minnesota Duluth majoring in Integrated Elementary and Special Education. While there, she enjoys campus life by being involved in the Christian group Chi Alpha, Education Minnesota Aspiring Educators, and intramural volleyball. With her elementary degree, she hopes to return to the Willmar School District to teach. Currently, Dena works at Walt’s in Willmar and also as a nanny for her cousin. In her free time, Dena enjoys growing in her relationship with Jesus, spending time with family and friends, crocheting, reading, and being outside.

Dena’s Willmar Fests Sponsor is Walt’s.

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Deshawna Hodges

Deshawna Hodges is the 18-year-old daughter of Jacqueline and Joel Eberle. A 2023 graduate from Willmar Senior High School, she excelled in volleyball, soccer, basketball, track and field, and also participated in the choir. Deshawna was honored to hold captaincy positions on the track and field team as well as the basketball team and to be a recipient of the prestigious Debbie Negen Women Athlete of the Year award. During the summers, Shawna has taken pride in working as a summer custodial worker for Willmar Public Schools, contributing to a conducive environment for learning. Currently studying at North Central University, Deshawna continues to pursue her passion for sports as she balances her commitments to both the soccer and track and field teams. She is also an active member of the Student Athlete Leadership Council (SALC) at the university where she partakes in decision-making processes and engages in philanthropic endeavors. Majoring in Sports Management and Business, Deshawna aspires to leverage her education to become an impactful athletic coach while also exploring the realm of sports marketing. Her interests extend beyond the field and into psychology to gain insights into athletes' mental health, aiming to provide comprehensive support and guidance. With a heart deeply rooted in Willmar, Deshawna dreams of returning to her community as a dependable and compassionate coach, inspired by the mentors who guided her throughout her formative years. She also treasures her free time and spends it working out, indulging in delicious meals, worshiping, and cherishing moments with her loved ones.

Deshawna’s Willmar Fests Sponsor is Maurices.

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Esmeralda Conde

Esmeralda Conde is the daughter of Rosario and Rosendo Conde. As of May 2023, she is a graduate from the Willmar Senior High School. While in school, Esmeralda enjoyed participating in the orchestra playing the violin. During her last few years of high school, she has had to fight inflammation in her spinal cord as well as a benign tumor which left her paralyzed for some time. After learning how to use her body again, Esmeralda was able to graduate early. She now enjoys helping her brother with his 2 baby boys as well as playing basketball in her free time. Esmeralda hopes to pursue a career in healthcare to inspire hope for others who may endure similar circumstances. She is currently employed at Kwiktrip.

Esmeralda’s Willmar Fests Sponsor is Minnwest Technology Campus.

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Isabelle Eller

Isabelle Eller is the daughter of Trena & Kris Clark and Bill & Bonnie Eller. Isabelle would like to share that she is adopted and has Spastic Cerebral Palsy which effects mainly her left side. Because of this, she shares that she has some development delays in learning, physical restrictions and is prone to seizures. Isabelle shares that she doesn’t let any of this slow her down or define her as it is the only life that she knows. Isabelle currently attends FOCUS House which is an extension program of the Willmar Public Schools. There she learns life skills such as cleaning, cooking, organization, how to get around the community, budgeting, grocery shopping and a variety of jobs. Isabelle has been able to try different jobs each trimester throughout the community. She has worked at Goodwill, the Bethesda Day Break program, at WEAC and helping Kindergarteners at Lakeland Elementary. Isabelle has one year left before graduating from FOCUS House and then plans to attend Ridgewater College’s Occupational Skills Program. Her favorite ways to spend her free time include FaceTiming with friends, listening to music, watching YouTube videos, and working on 1000 piece puzzles. She also enjoys swimming,riding 4-wheeler/side-by-side and spending time with her cat named Kasey, whom she loves very much. Isabelle also has half-brothers who are all married with children so she is an aunt even though she doesn’t see them much.

Isabelle’s Willmar Fests Sponsor is Trena Clark, Edina Realty.

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Rae Holwerda

Rae Holwerda is the 19-year-old daughter of Nicole Hengel and Scott Holwerda. She graduated in 2023 from Willmar Senior High with high honors. During high school, Rae was a member of the National Honor Society, speech team, 2701, and multiple musicals. During Rae’s senior year, she was one of the captains of the speech team and represented Willmar at the MSHSL AA at the CLC speech meets. Rae attended Girls’ State in 2022 and was Willmar's Representative for the American Legion Auxiliary. Rae is attending Gustavus Adolphus College in St. Peter, MN and she is currently undecided on her major. While at Gustavus, she is on her Campus Activities Board which plans events for the whole student body, and she serves as Co-Executive for Everyday Activities. Rae is a member of the American Cancer Society of Gustavus and next year gets the opportunity of being the Production Chair. She is also a member in the Choir of Christ Chapel. Rae will be working at Luther Crest Bible Camp in Alexandria, MN as a camp counselor during the summer months. In her free time, she likes to spend time with family and friends, getting caught up on homework, singing, and shopping.

Rae’s Willmar Fest Sponsor is Jess Kubesh - Edina Realty.

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Taylee Pahl

Taylee Pahl is the 18-year-old daughter of Justin and Amy Pahl. She is a 2023 high honors graduate from Willmar Senior High School. While in highschool, Taylee participated in cross country, Nordic skiing, track and field. She earned a varsity letter in Nordic skiing and also enjoyed serving as a mentor for students with special education needs. Taylee remains active in her church community in various ways. She is currently a student at Ridgewater College where she is pursuing education to become a Medical Assistant with plans for that to lead into a second degree to become a Radiology Technician. Following her education endeavors, Taylee hopes to continue working at the local hospital to pursue her career. She is currently employed by Centra Care Rice Memorial hospital as a CNA/PCA for mother-baby care, pediatric care and women's healthcare. In her spare time, Taylee enjoys spending time with her friends and family as well as spending time outdoors.

Taylee’s Willmar Fests Sponsor is Willmar Bus Service.

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Thelma Benitez

Thelma Benitez is the 19-year-old daughter of Maria A. Benitez Perrusquia and Armando Perrusquia. She is the eldest sister of Maria V. Benitez and Kathryn Perrusquia. Thelma is a 2023 high honors and academic distinction graduate from Willmar Senior High School. While in high school, she participated in the National Honor Society, FFA, and the floriculture team. She also enjoyed serving as a student assistant and teacher assistant for her peers and teachers. Thelma earned a varsity letter for academics throughout all four years of high school. She is active in her church community and enjoyed volunteering as a 2nd grade catechist her senior year of high school because she enjoys spending time with kids and helping others learn. Thelma is currently attending the University of Minnesota- Twin Cities and is pursuing a major in Developmental Psychology with a minor in Speech- Language- Hearing Sciences. She is also an active member of the psychology group on her campus. Thelma will balance her summer between working at Target and spending time with her loved ones. In her free time, she enjoys going to the gym, painting, spending time with her sisters and friends, and learning how to play pickleball.

Thelma’s Willmar Fests Sponsor is Primrose Boutique.

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