Kayla Marie Jackson was crowned the 2019 Lincoln County Apple Queen on Saturday night by 2018 LC Apple Queen, Destiny Shaelyn Self. Scarlett Victoria Berryhill was first runner up; Mary Carol Field came in second place, and Kacy Francela Solera-Cubillo took the third-place title. Kayla Marie Jackson scored the highest of all contestants in the swimsuit segment, and Gia Kate-Nicole Rudisill scored highest in evening wear.
As Lincoln County’s new reigning Apple Queen, Jackson said: “I’m feeling so many different feelings right now. I’m so thankful for this opportunity.” When she first heard her name called, she said her first thought was: “I was like ‘no, they did not say my name.’ It was crazy and mind-blowing. It took a second to sink in. I wanted it so bad, and I’m so glad I achieved it.”
Sophie Arin Powell was named Miss Congeniality for this year’s pageant. The Noel Beam Howard Essay Scholarship winner, in honor of the late 1971 Miss Lincoln County Noël Beam Howard, was Raemy Brynn Wensil. The winner of the Signature Page award with a $300 cash prize, given to the contestant who sold the most advertisements for the Apple Queen booklet, was also Raemy Brynn Wensil. The People’s Choice award, known as the “Apple of My Eye” winner and was voted on by audience members, was Mary Carol Field, who won the same award last year.
This year’s theme reflected women’s empowerment. The pageant opened up with the usual choreographed dance routine from contestants and their apprentices. During the routine, girls stood in the back portraying different occupations women have held that are traditionally underrepresented in media. Among the career fields represented were astronauts and firefighters.
During the pageant, contestants were judged on business wear and an on-stage interview response, swimwear and athleticism, and evening wear. The swimwear portion of the evening was prefaced with a note from the emcee of the event, Bryce Carey, that the committee for the pageant asked the contestants if they were comfortable with including swimwear as an on-stage category. The swimwear event was also made explicitly body positive, with Carey telling the audience that fitness can come in all body shapes and sizes. There was a picture frame on the stage that contestants stood behind that read “Every body is a swimsuit body.” Another part of the scores judges gave the young women was a grade on a report done by each contestant on the woman they admire most in history.
Between each segment of the pageant, an apprentice came on stage to give a brief bio of women in Lincoln County who are role models and give back a great deal to their community, including women leaders such as Kathy Vinzant, Councilperson Mary Francis White, and Cathy Davis. In pre-recorded statements, contestants spoke on what confidence and being a strong woman meant to them. Some of the young women spoke on the obstacles they have faced with traditional beauty standards, speaking on body acceptance issues and struggling with having a different hair type than their peers.
Self gave her farewell address, calling her time as Apple Queen “the job of a lifetime.” Her tearful goodbye expressed gratitude to her family, Cheryl Burgess, and recent past Apple Queens who guided her in her journey. Her last thank you was to Lincoln County for “giving her a whole town to call family.”
The Business and Professional Women’s Club of Lincoln County hosts the Apple Queen pageant each year. The BPW strives to help women grow in their professional careers and foster an environment for young women to enter the workforce with confidence and enthusiasm. Apprentices Carly Stanton, Grace Houser, and Emily Dellinger were given a $100 cash prize from BPW for the impression they made on the Apple Queen pageant committee.