Queens set to be crowned

Published 10:49 am Tuesday, September 15, 2015

More than $4,500 in scholarships is on the line at this year’s Miss and Junior Miss Pageants for the 2015 Four Flags Area Apple Festival.

The event will be at 6 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 19, at the Niles High School Auditorium.

Veterans receive free entry in keeping with the Apple Festival’s theme of “Apple Festival Salutes our Troops.”

People can get $2 off the ticket price by bringing a non-perishable food item that will be donated to the Salvation Army food pantry of Niles.

Otherwise, the cost to attend is $9 or free for children ages 5 and under.

Eleven girls will vie for the title of Miss Apple Festival, while seven compete for the title of Junior Miss Apple Festival. Both pageants will be held at the same time.

Miss Apple Festival will receive a $1,000 scholarship, while first runner-up gets a $750 scholarship, second runner-up a $500 scholarship and Miss Congeniality a $750 scholarship.

Junior Miss Apple Festival will receive a $500 scholarship, while first runner-up gets a $300 scholarship, second runner-up a $250 scholarship and Junior Miss Congeniality a $300 scholarship.

Pageant director Reegan Albright said this is the second year in a row they have offered increased scholarship amounts to winners as a result of dropping the pageant’s status as a qualifier for Miss Michigan USA.

“It is expensive to send girls to that contest,” Albright said. “In lieu of qualifying, we’ve upped every scholarship dollar amount and added scholarships for the junior miss contest.”

The pageant also does random drawings for a pair of $250 scholarships for contestants in addition to offering prize packages provided by the Apple Festival and various community businesses.

Contestants will be judged on three things: interview (60 percent), overall stage presence (20 percent) and formal appearance (20 percent). The interview takes place Saturday morning prior to the pageant.

The show will open with a dance number before contestants change into formal attire and do two formal appearances.

After that, judges will choose the top five competitors from each contest and bring them back out for an on-stage question. Judges will use the contestants’ answers to help determine the order of finish.

The pageant contestants determine who receives each Miss Congeniality title.

Albright said she hopes to see a large crowd watching Saturday night.

“We think it will be a nice show to watch and it is also important to support the young ladies who are trying to compete for a scholarship,” she said. “It is way out of their comfort zone for these ladies, but they are enjoying it so far.”

The queens and their courts will participate in all of the festivities at the 43rd annual Four Flags Area Apple Festival, which runs Oct. 1 through Oct. 4 in Niles. They will also perform many community service projects throughout the year, including downtown Niles trick-or-treat and ringing bells for the Salvation Army of Niles.

Haley Akey was crowned 2014 Miss Apple Festival, while Mackenzie Wideman was 2014 Junior Miss Apple Festival.

Albright said Akey is using her scholarship money to attend Baker College.