Miss Apple Festival connected to event’s history, Jr. Miss excited for new experience

Published 9:10 am Monday, September 21, 2015

Leader photo/CRAIG HAUPERT Ellie Hurd was crowned Miss Apple Festival Saturday night.

Ellie Hurd was crowned Miss Apple Festival Saturday night.

For most Niles area residents, the Four Flags Area Apple Festival is a family tradition.

For Ellie Hurd and her family, the tradition means more than most.

When the 18-year-old was crowned Miss Apple Festival 2015 Saturday night, it wasn’t the first time she had received a title. Preceding a long list of crowns including Miss Heart of Blossomtime and Miss Congeniality to Miss Blossomtime, Ellie was crowned Jr. Miss Apple Festival in 2012.

“This festival just means so much to me. My grandpa was one of the founders of the festival, and it’s near and dear to my heart,” Ellie said.

Just moments after being crowned, Ellie thanked the judges, her fellow contestants, her parents and her “Apple Festival family.”

“I hope you’re ready for round two,” she said.

Ellie is the daughter of Doug and Marion Hurd. She is a Galien native and a Buchanan High School graduate. She currently attends Southwestern Michigan College, where she is working toward a degree in nursing.

Rounding out the Miss Apple Festival court of honor are Kayla West, who was crowned First Runner-Up and Miss Congeniality, and Amber Celie, who was crowned Second Runner-Up.

Kayla is 16 years old, and the daughter of Dwane and Kara West. She attends Niles High School and participates in track, student council and basketball. She plans to pursue a career in pediatrics.

Amber is the 16-year-old daughter of Jeffery and Mechelle Celie. She attends Niles New Tech where she participates in girls soccer club, the mentor program and student council. She hopes to attend college and pursue a degree in psychology.

Jr. Miss Apple Festival 2015 will be tending to her festival duties with fresher eyes than Hurd, but judging by her reaction to being crowned, she is no less excited for her upcoming reign.

Upon hearing her name during crowning, Tressy Tressy broke down in tears, visibly showing the honor she felt came with her new title.

After the pageant, however, the Niles High School student who was born in Bangladesh said she felt the bigger honor came with her Miss Congeniality crown.

“One of the biggest things with this pageant is getting to know all of the girls, and to know that they chose me as Miss Congeniality, that meant a lot,” Tressy said.

In her bio, Tressy said she feels the Niles community has treated her like a princess since the day she arrived in the United States, and she would love to return the favor.

Tressy, 15, is the daughter of Albert and Shelly Mazumder. She hopes to eventually attend Stanford University to become a surgeon.

Joining Tressy during her reign will be First Runner-Up Alexia Martinez and Second Runner-Up Erica Lovett.

Alexia is the 14-year-old daughter of LaTonya Hull and Tony Martinez. She attends Brandywine High School, and hopes to eventually become a physical therapist or veterinarian. Martinez holds a 4.0 grade point average and participates in student senate, basketball, soccer and cheerleading.

Erica is the 13-year-old daughter of Eric and Melissa Lovett. She attends Ring Lardner Middle School and participates in Yearbook Club, show choir, cross country, basketball and track. She hopes to pursue a degree in veterinary science after high school.

One contestant in each pageant received a $250 random draw scholarship. Kayla Cornell received the scholarship for the Junior Miss portion, and Ellie Hurd received it for the Miss portion.

Maggie Mokwa and Maribel Villafana each received two $25 gift cards for selling the most good luck ads and receiving the People’s Choice Awards for their respective pageants.

Both Apple Festival courts will join Apple Festival volunteers in promoting the Apple Festival at various events and parades throughout the year, and will be given the royal treatment at the festival, where they will attend and participate in as many events as possible.