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When plans for the Lincoln County Apple Queen Pageant were started last fall and even into January and February, no one had any idea the extent that the COVID-19 pandemic would impact just about every annual event held in Lincoln County.

“Once we realized the impact of the pandemic, we had to figure out how to do things differently,” organizer Cheryl Burgess said. “We talked with the moms and the girls and everyone wanted to move forward knowing we’d have to make adjustments. Everyone was totally on board.”

The pageant will be shown virtually this year this Saturday, Aug. 8. There’s a large group of young women competing, and all 21 girls are making wearing face masks fashionable. Burgess had special masks made for the girls from fabric printed with apples.

“When the Citizen’s Center said they were closed through September, that was another bump in the road,” she said. “We started to look for another location and Erika (Miller) kept pushing me to do a livestream. That’s totally out of my comfort zone. I don’t have a clue as to how all that works.”

As it turned out, a man that Burgess goes to church with works for a company that specializes in livestreaming. After he explained the process to her, she realized it could be done. For the first time in its 40 plus year history, the Lincoln County Apple Queen Pageant will be livestreamed.

The entire process has been cleared through the Lincoln County Health Department, according to Burgess. 

“As long as we are recording for entertain purposes, we can do it in a space such as the cultural center,” she said. “We checked with a judge on the mandate and we’re okay.”

Contestants are coming from all four Lincoln County Schools with one from Long Shoals Wesleyan Academy and another homeschooled. There are also several girls who are returning from previous pageants.

Tiffany Alvarado is a class of 2021 senior at Lincolnton High School. She plans to attend East Carolina University or Coastal Carolina University to study psychology. 

“When I was younger, I always loved the apple festival and seeing all the different queens,” she said. “They all have such unique stories and are so empowering. I’ve always wanted to do it, but it’s way out of my comfort zone. My parents really pushed for me to do it this year.”

The reigning Apple Queen has always been an inspiration for girls throughout the county. Many young women enter the pageant, not because it’s a beauty pageant, but because of the confidence-building aspects of it and, perhaps more importantly, because they were influenced by a previous winner. 

“The other girls are wonderful, and they all deserve to take home the crown,” said Alvarado who admits to being shy. “Getting to know them over the summer has been such a great experience for me. It’s been a chance for me to come out of my shell and doing something new for myself.”

Alexia Chapman will be a senior this year at East Lincoln High School. She plans to attend either Davidson College or the University of North Carolina Chapel Hill to study biochemistry and astrophysics. 

“I knew Kayla Jackson (the 2019 Apple Queen), who went to East Lincoln,” she said. “I saw all the posts about entering this year and it looked like so much fun. I talked to Kayla and she got me to decide to enter and I’m really glad I did. I’ve seen my confidence grow a lot and I’ve made friends with the girls from other schools.”

Growing up, Chapman said that she was a tomboy and never thought she’d enter a pageant but said that anyone could do it. 

“It’s more than just outer beauty which I think growing up I might have seen it as,” she said. 

A rising senior at North Lincoln High School, Georgia Dellinger hopes to attend Stanford to study chemical oceanography or ocean sciences to study the impacts of climate change on oceans to help save coral reefs. As a woman going into the STEM field, she wanted to help support other women who are going into male-dominated fields.

“I feel like the pageant would give me a greater platform to help others and get my message out there,” she said. “My favorite Apple Queen was Maddie Woodie and I had a personal experience with her growing up. She was one of the most supportive people that I know.”

Woodie grew up in Dellinger’s neighborhood and was her babysitter when she was younger. At the time, she was running track which sparked an interest in Dellinger.

“I ended up running track for a few years, but I had to stop due to injuries,” she said. “It was nice to share that experience with someone.”

Emily Dellinger is a rising senior attending West Lincoln High School. She plans to attend Appalachian State University to study criminal justice. Dellinger has been a part of the pageant apprentice program for the past two years. 

“I was never really a pageant girl so the experience as an apprentice helped me to come out of my shell and make new friends,” she said. “Last year I was awarded the apprentice award for my leadership.”

Dellinger’s first experience with the apple pageant was in 2016. She personally knew the winner, Keely Stempien and was struck by her confidence and beauty.

“I had seen her strength and maturity throughout her life when facing hard times,” Dellinger said. “I think she’s an inspiration to all girls and is one of the reasons why I entered this year.”

Jade Marlow is a graduate of Long Shoals Wesleyan Academy. She plans to continue to attend Gaston College to begin her studies to become a vet tech or marine biologist.

“The pageant was brought to my attention a year ago,” she said. “I decided to try it this year since I graduated and don’t have any more high school. All the girls have been so helpful.”

Marlow was so impressed by watching the pageants in years past.

All 21 contestants and their apprentices include:

Contestant 1 - Scarlett Berryhill

A 2016 Lincoln County homeschool graduate, Scarlett is competing this year for her 2nd time. She plans to attend CVCC and begin studying nursing. 

Parents: Shawn & Amanda Berryhill

Apprentice: Madilynn Burgin, LHS

Contestant 2 - Anna Digh

Class of 2021 senior at North Lincoln High School. Anna plans to attend East Carolina to study business. 

Parent: Rob & Hope Digh

Apprentice: Jocelyn Ruiz, Lincoln Charter School

Contestant 3 - Savanna Brooks

Class of 2021 senior at West Lincoln High School. Savanna plans to attend Lenoir Rhyne University to study to become a physician’s assistant.

Parent: Melody Brooks

Apprentice: Sam Cox, NLHS

Contestant 4 - Grace Parnell

Class of 2021 senior at North Lincoln High School. Grace plans to attend the University of Florida to begin studies towards becoming a dentist.

Parents: Kelly Koonse

Apprentice: Gracelynn Schronce, WLMS

Contestant 5 - Mary Field

Class of 2019 graduate of North Lincoln High School entering her sophomore year at UNCC. Mary is studying to become an elementary teacher.

Parent: Bryan and Carol Field

Apprentice: Chloe Soorus, NLHS

Contestant 6 - Laura Brown

Class of 2021 senior at West Lincoln High School. Laura plans to attend Ole Miss University to study to become a dental hygienist.

Parent: Brent & Trina Brown

Apprentice: Jordyn Powers, LHS

Contestant 7 - Alexia Chapman

Class of 2021 senior at East Lincoln High School. Alexia plans to attend UNC Chapel Hill to study biochemistry and biomedical science.

Parent: Sandy Parks

Apprentice: Taylor Turner, WLMS and Ashley Fisher, LHS

Contestant 8 - Leah Matney

Class of 2021 senior at West Lincoln High School. Leah plans to study photography in college. 

Parents: Tim & Lori Matney

Apprentice: Ava Godfrey, WLMS

Contestant 9 - Haylee Kinman

Class of 2021 senior at West Lincoln High School. Haylee plans to attend UNC Wilmington to study business and marketing. 

Parents: Deana Lail

Apprentice: Kalee Randall, WLMS

Contestant 10 - Emily Dellinger

Class of 2021 senior at West Lincoln High School. Emily plans to attend ASU to study criminal justice.

Parents: Gary & Amber Dellinger

Apprentice: Sydney Field, NLHS

Contestant 11 - Hadleigh Curles

Class of 2021 senior at North Lincoln High School. Hadleigh plans to attend NC State University and study veterinarian medicine.

Parents: Terry & Kim Curles

Apprentice: Maddie Plonk, Lincoln Charter School

Contestant 12 - Gwyn Reep

Class of 2021 senior at West Lincoln High School. Gwyn plans to attend Wake Forest University and study political science.

Parents: Robert & Jennifer Reep

Apprentice: Kayla Wehunt, WLHS

Contestant 13 - Tiffany Alvarado

Class of 2021 senior at Lincolnton High School. Tiffany plans to attend East Carolina University to study psychology. 

Parents: Felix & Josefa Alvarado

Apprentices: Kayden Cook, Lincoln Charter School and Kiley Welch, Lincoln Charter School

Contestant 14 - Jade Marlow

Class of 2021 senior at Long Shoals Wesleyan Academy. Jade plans to Gaston College to begin her studies to become a vet tech.

Parents: Tim Marlow & Tonya Wyatt

Apprentice: Mikayla Rainwater, ELHS

Contestant 15 - Torie Taylor

Class of 2020 graduate of West Lincoln High School. Torie plans to attend Gaston College to begin her studies to become a paramedic.

Parents: Billy & Kristi Taylor

Apprentice: Isabella Brown, NLHS

Contestant 16 - Georgia Dellinger

Class of 2021 senior at North Lincoln High School. Georgia plans to attend Stanford to study chemical oceanography. 

Parents: George & Stephanie Dellinger

Apprentice: Grace Houser, WLMS

Contestant 17 - Ava Parnell

Class of 2021 senior at North Lincoln High School. Ava plans to attend the Naval Academy and study physical therapy/sports medicine. 

Parents: Kelly Koonse

Apprentices: Emma Carpenter, WLMS and Carolina Richardson, LHS

Contestant 18 - Halee Reinhardt

Class of 2021 senior at West Lincoln High School. Halee plans to attend NC State University to study civil engineering.

Parents: Tyler & Brandi Reinhardt

Apprentice: Sidney Black, NLHS

Contestant 19 - Addie Milburn

Class of 2021 senior at North Lincoln High School. Addie plans to attend UNC Chapel Hill to study business.

Parents: Sam & Jenny Milburn

Apprentice: Quinlynn Avery, WLMS

Contestant 20 - Melanie Mora

Class of 2021 senior at West LIncoln High School. Melanie plans to attend Gaston College to begin her studies in nursing.

Parents: Jose & Leonila Mora

Apprentice: Lauren Padgett, WLHS

Contestant 21 - Ashlynn Eurey

Class of 2021 senior at West Lincoln High School. Ashlynn plans to attend NC State University to study animal science.

Parents: Nathan & Amy Eurey

Apprentice: Kylee Andrews, NLMS

To purchase tickets using Venmo, which are $25 through @lincolntonbpw. Be sure to include your Facebook name as it appears in the comment section. After paying, search “Lincoln County Apple Queen Pageant Livestream” in Facebook Groups and request access. Payment is also available through PayPal – visit the Apple Pageant Facebook page for the link. The pageant is Saturday Aug. 8. Livestream will open at 6:15 p.m. with pageant starting promptly at 6:30 p.m. Contact lincolncoapplequeen@gmail.com with any questions.

 

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