Applications are currently being accepted, through June 15, for the 35th annual Miss Lincoln County Apple Queen Scholarship Pageant.
The event, which will be held at 7 p.m. on Saturday, Aug. 3 at the Citizens Center, is open to residents of Lincoln County who are at least a rising senior in high school by this fall and are no older than 23 years of age, as of Sept. 30.
Having started in 1978, the pageant, sponsored and directed by the Lincolnton Business and Professional Women’s Organization, is considered the kickoff to the Apple Festival celebrations. Judging categories include interview, swimsuit, evening gown and on-stage questions. There is no talent portion.
The queen is awarded a $3,000 scholarship, with the first runner-up receiving $1,500, the second runner-up receiving $1,000 and the third runner-up receiving $750.
The contestant named “Miss Congeniality” also receives a scholarship of $500.
Joyce Dorsey, festival liaison at the county’s Cooperative Extension Office, said the pageant is no longer just about beauty.
“The focus is on intellect, determination and drive,” she said.
Louise Clemmons, who is heading up public relations for the pageant, echoed her sentiments.
“We have some very bright, ambitious young women here,” she said.
Clemmons also stressed that the scholarships are gifts, not loans.
The organizers hope to gain greater participation this year. They had nine contestants in last year’s pageant, but had 21 at the first one.
Shanice Street, the reigning Apple Queen and a senior about to graduate from Lincolnton High School on Saturday, also hopes to see fellow young women take advantage of the opportunity.
Street is just the second African-American in the pageant’s history to wear the crown. She is also the second contestant to win both the title and the “Miss Congeniality” honors.
She joked that she was the youngest and shortest contestant, and she stressed that women thinking about participating shouldn’t let either be deterrents.
Street, who will be attending Wake Forest University in the fall with plans to study on a pre-med track, hopes to someday be an emergency room doctor.
The pageant, she said, opened a lot of doors and helped build her confidence. It was a good experience for her that has led to other good experiences, like reading to children at local elementary schools, speaking engagements and meeting lots of people.
“You learn from it, win or lose,” she said.
She heard about the opportunity last year from her school’s announcements, adding that she had always wanted to do a pageant.
And she’s glad she did.
She made friends of her fellow contestants and encourages new participants to do likewise and “have fun.”
“It’s more than a competition,” she added of the “learning and growing” experience.
As a bonus, the winner gets to keep her crown.
Street, who will be spending her summer as a camp counselor at the Lincolnton YMCA, said she will be there throughout the process for women participating in this year’s event.
The first 20 qualified applicants will be selected for the pageant. Those interested may access applications online at www.bpw-lincolnton.org and from counselors at the four county high schools. Completed applications should be emailed to email@example.com or mailed to BPW-Lincolnton, PO Box 533, Lincolnton.
For more information, call Cathy Davis at (704) 740-8313, Renee Moody at (980) 429-0333 or Holly Perkins at (704) 530-0846.