LINCOLNTON, N.C. ( L TOWN RADIO ) –
Thirteen young women, ranging from upcoming seniors at Lincoln County High Schools to 22-year-old college students, will compete for the coveted Lincoln County Apple Queen crown. This title also comes with community leadership responsibilities, scholarship monies, and prizes. There are multiple scholarship awards and accolades for the ladies to vie for, totaling more than $8,000. The Business and Professional Women’s Club of Lincoln County host the pageant every year, in part because of its mission. The organization aims to help women create a healthy work balance and where members feel valued and comfortable in their careers. The BPW welcomes women of all walks of life, from members who are blossoming professionals or seasoned pros in their field.
Cheryl Burgess has been actively involved with the Apple Queen Pageant for long enough to be dubbed the “Unofficial Apple Queen Mom.” Each year, she acts as a mentor for the newly crowned Apple Queen as a liaison for the BPW. She also serves as chair of the Apple Queen Scholarship Pageant Committee. She spoke on making the pageant more modern and accessible over the last few years: “We made a decision about four years ago to change some of the required formats so that it is more relevant to young ladies today. The pageant had been done the same way for most of the years it’s been in existence. That way was not wrong by any means; it was just not relevant to young ladies today. A prime example of that is the requirements to attend rehearsals. These young people work full-time jobs in the summertime; they go on mission trips and family vacations, and some of them take classes during the summer. So we had to change how we required them to prepare.”
As with many recent pageants, there has been a recent discussion whether the swimsuit portion of the evening is relevant or dehumanizes the young women, with some arguing that it objectifies contestants. Burgess countered that each year “ever since the Miss America organization made the decision to remove it, we discuss with the contestants and so far they’ve all wanted to keep it in, so we did.”
Erica Miller, the Apple Queen Pageant Director, also felt that communication with contestants and ensuring their confidence is key to running a successful show. As the 2013 Apple Queen, she can personally understand what the young women competing are going through. “I got so much from the pageant when I competed, and I love seeing each group of girls gain valuable tools and lessons from the experience,” she said. “The biggest obstacle these young women face is learning to be confident in their own skin and believe in themselves. Pageants are a new experience for most of these girls, and learning to embrace the challenge and be confident in what they are doing is the most important aspect.”
Among the modern changes, this year, young women who are homeschooled or attend charter schools were allowed to submit an application for consideration. Scarlett Berryhill, who has been a homeschooler for most of her academic career, was thrilled with this change that allowed her to compete. “I personally hope that through opening it to more students that it will help the pageant grow and be able to give everyone a good chance at scholarships for school who might not have a chance without the pageant,” she said. “I hope through opening it to all students; it will inspire more women to get out of their comfort zone and experience not only an incredible opportunity but to join a forever family.”
Since completing and submitting their applications to be contestants, the 13 women have rehearsed a group choreographed routine at Alternative Steps Dance Studio in downtown Lincolnton and finished one-on-one interviews with L Town Radio, both of which will be exhibited on stage during the pageant. They have also prepared outfits for multiple phases of the pageant, including swimsuit and evening wear.
Most Apple Queen contestants carefully craft a platform that represents who they are and what they stand for. Kacy Solera, 16 and a rising senior at Lincolnton High School, followed the same routine, adding in elements of her background and identity. “Being a daughter of immigrants, I hope to promote acceptance and unity, no matter our differences. I hope to share my culture here in Lincoln County,” she said. “I also plan to bring awareness to the severity of domestic abuse. I want my story to be heard, and I want my voice to make a difference. I hope I can empower those around me to speak up and seek help. I believe that no one should be a victim of domestic abuse, and most importantly, no one should ever have to suffer in silence. If I were to be the next Apple Queen, I would love to give back to the community that raised me.”
Community is a huge driving factor in why these young women want to participate in this pageant. Kayla Johnson, 17 and a rising senior at East Lincoln High School, said: “I think it takes someone who not only can be a role model to all of Lincoln County and younger generations but someone who advocates that anyone, no matter what can achieve what they strive to achieve. In order to win, they must be focused on not winning, but making an impact on our community in a positive way.”
So what does it take to be the 41st Lincoln County Apple Queen?
“I think it takes commitment, dedication, passion and of course a great love for Lincoln County and the people in it,” said Raemy Brynn Wensil, 16 and a rising senior at East Lincoln High School. “I feel that the crown is a way to bring the community together. It represents all walks of life [and] all ages. I will strive to continue to be that person with or without the crown.”
With every year comes a new queen but that means to say farewell to an Apple Queen that has served our County Well. Destiny Shaelyn Self, a graduate of West Lincoln High School, was named Apple Queen in 2018. After having fulfilled a platform in coordination with DSS this past year to bring awareness to the adoption and foster care systems in Lincoln County, Self will pass on the crown to another hopeful woman with another platform to work on and big shoes to fill. To read her farewell interview click here.
The contestants this year are as follows:
● Gia Rudisill
● Trinity Allman
● Alexa Bieberich
● Kacy Solera
● Chloe Brooks
● Jordan Kee
● Scarlett Berryhill
● Mary Field
● Raemy Wensil
● Ally Helms
● Sophie Powell
● Bailey Beam
● Kayla Jackson
The 41st annual Miss Lincoln County Apple Queen Scholarship Pageant will be Saturday, August 3 at 6:30 p.m with the doors opening at 5:30 p.m. at the James W. Warren Citizens Center at 115 West Main Street in downtown Lincolnton, NC. Admission to the event is $10 per person. Only cash or check, as no credit/debit cards will be accepted.
Melissa Cordell is an alumna of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill with a B.A. in Political Science and Women’s & Gender Studies and is the Staff Reporter to L Town Radio. To email Melissa with a story idea or news tip email at email@example.com