With so many competitions, once a person wins or, in this instance, is crowned, the winner is eventually forgotten about. Not so with the Lincoln County Apple Queen. Not only does the winner make numerous public appearances throughout the year after her win, she also helps out with the next year’s pageant. In addition, former Apple Queens will also often help out contestants during preparation for upcoming pageants and sometimes take roles in the pageant.
In addition to all her appearances, interviews and helping out with the upcoming pageant, the Apple Queen picks a platform or cause to be championed throughout her year of reign. This is not a requirement of winners, it was started in 2012 and has been continued ever since.
For Destiny Self, the 2018 winner of the Lincoln County Apple Queen Pageant, it has had a whirlwind year that has gone by all too quickly. She made her last public appearance as the Apple Queen at the Alive After Five concert last week. She’ll be passing on her crown to the next winner on Saturday.
“It’s been a really good year,”she said. “I made a lot of memories and met some great people. I’m excited for the next girl.”
In particular, Self said that she enjoyed attending the Apple Festival and visiting schools. Like so many of the former contestants, she remembers when she was an elementary school student and how excited she was when she knew the Apple Queen was coming for a visit.
It was while working on her platform, "Family Ever After," that Self said she made the most memories and friends. Self, who was raised by her aunt and uncle, Heather and Shane Willis, wanted to focus on bringing awareness to children in foster homes and helping to find them permanent homes.
“A couple of weeks after I won, I met with Sandy Kennedy (adoptions program manager) at the Department of Social Services and went over the things that I could do throughout the year and the things they were doing for foster kids,” she said. “Sandy offered me an opportunity to raise money to go to their fund that supports extra needs that foster children may have like attending field trips, summer camps, buying prom dresses, buying school rings, taking part in recreational sports and other needs that may not be met otherwise.”
In May, Self and her uncle, Shane Willis organized a golf tournament and raised more than $3,000 which was donated to DSS to help foster children with these extra needs.
“Over the past year, Destiny has been an active member of the Department's Foster Adopt Movement (FAM) and has done an outstanding job in promoting her platform ‘Family Ever After’ by raising awareness to the need for foster and adoptive families and highlighting the importance of their role,” Kennedy said. “Destiny has encouraged and praised the families for stepping up and taking on the role of parents for children who are not biologically theirs. She has also encouraged foster youth by sending a message that they are not alone in their journey and that their circumstances do not define them. She made personal appearances at special events and helped at our annual fall carnival, celebrated with the families who were being honored at our annual adoption event and helped distribute gifts at the annual Christmas party hosted by the Child Advocacy Center.”
Over the past few weeks, Self has been attending practices with this year’s competitors helping them with answering interview questions and walking with heels.
“I keep telling them how important the pageant is for me and how it has a place in my heart,” she said. “I want them to be as passionate about it as I was. They’re doing really, really good. They’re learning a lot.”
When she won the pageant last year, Self was a rising senior at West Lincoln High School. She originally planned to attend the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill to study pharmacy. The school she’ll attend has since changed because she received an academic scholarship to attend Wingate University. Once she graduates, Self hopes to return to this area to start her own pharmacy business. She expects to continue to work with DSS and to adopt a child or children at some point in her life.
The Lincoln County Apple Pageant will be held on Saturday, Aug. 3 at 6:30 p.m. at the James W. Warren Citizens Center. Tickets are $10 and available at the door. The citizens center is located at 115 West Main Street in Lincolnton.