The Smoke Signal

The Miss Ripon Experience

Aiko DeArth, Journalist

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The blossoms are in full swing and with it comes excitement for the festivities to come.

This year’s group of Almond Blossom Princesses and current Miss Ripon line up for a picture, days before the coronation. Left to right: Elysia Medina, Kate Phelps, Gianna smith, Jessica Harlan, Saylor De Abreu, and Savanna Mendoza. Photo taken by Birch and Blossom Photography.

It’s February, and with it comes Ripon’s most exciting time of the year: Almond Blossom. One of the town’s most anticipated Almond Blossom Festival events is the announcing of the Almond Blossom Queen.

The event will take place on Thursday, February 22nd, held at its annual location of the community center. The crowning is combined with the Almond Blossom Spaghetti Dinner for a night of excitement.

The process begins with Ripon’s 11th grade girls who must submit their applications by December. There are multiple aspects of the competition, including an interview, essay, speech, attendance and participation in events such as the fashion show, and selling the required 1000 raffle tickets at one dollar each.

“If you don’t put in the work then you aren’t going to do your best,” explains Jessica Harlan, currently reigning Miss Ripon. “Ultimately you just have to try your hardest and work hard.”

Harlan won last year, following the precedent of her sister Megan Harlan, who won in 2016.

“The best part about running is spending time with the girls I ran with,” Harlan says. “We really became like a family.”

This year, Ripon High School students Kate Phelps, Elysia Medina, and Savanna Mendoza are contestants.

“I want to be Miss Ripon because I thought it would be fun and I knew it would be a really cool experience,” says Phelps.

Miss Ripon has duties such as going to different places to represent the city and the Chamber of Commerce. That is on top of being featured in several Almond Blossom events.

“One of the best ones I went to was a gala for Golden Valley Health Center where I sold raffle tickets to benefit the organizations,” explains Harlan.

Harlan concludes with a final statement of advice for the girls running this year.

“Enjoy it. Embrace it all, talk to everyone you can, and stay humble,” she says, “win or lose it is one of the most amazing experiences and I would not trade it for anything.”

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