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Almond Blossom queen giving up crown next month
Joie Darretta, right, was crowned as the 2010 Ripon Almond Blossom Festival Queen by her predecessor Camila Sweany. - photo by HIME ROMERO


• WHAT: 49th annual Ripon Almond Blossom Festival
• WHEN:  Feb. 24-27
• MORE INFO: Call the Ripon Chamber of Commerce at 599-7519

RIPON – Joie Darretta works the room gracefully – taking the time to make eye contact with those she knows that she’ll have to talk to in sort of a “don’t leave, I’m coming” look.

It’s a sly move that very few people notice except for those involved in the exchange, and prior to last February, it probably wasn’t even something that Darretta thought she would have added to her arsenal of tricks.

Not that she’s a tricky sort of girl or anything.

After taking over the crown from outgoing Almond Queen Camila Sweaney – who reminded the crowd that it took humility, compassion, respect and honor to successfully hold the post – Darretta jumped right into her role tackling everything from store openings to parades.

“That was probably the hardest part – spending all of that time outside and just waiting for it to be over,” she said of the parades, “But I got to meet a lot of excellent people all throughout this year, so there isn’t anything I would change at all even If I had the chance.”

And she’s glad that she got her foot in the door when she did.

Darretta was awarded the crown when she was only a junior, which meant that she had her entire senior year to take in not only all of what the Almond Queen program had to offer, but she also didn’t have to worry about traveling home on the weekends to fulfill obligations – especially when she’s thinking of traveling out of state to attend a Bible College.

“I think that I got to enjoy it more than I would have if I would have been in college,” she said. “It works for some people, but not for me. I do better when I get a chance to give something my all.”

As far as any advice for who might wear the crown next, her comments are simple and straight to the point.

“Just be yourself. If you try to be somebody else people can see right through that. Everybody is unique for a reason, so show the judges why you’re unique.”