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Almond Blossom Queen hopefuls attend tea
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Almond Blossom Festival queen candidates Ashly Gomez, Kristen King and Nicolle Driesen were among those at the tea. - photo by GLENN KAHL/The Bulletin

The eight candidates for the upcoming Ripon Almond Blossom Festival queen contest attended a semi-formal tea Tuesday afternoon with the ladies of the Bethany Home Manor apartments.
Public outings are part of a scenario the Ripon Chamber of Commerce is putting the girls through in preparing them for the three-day event at the end of February.  Each contestant was introduced to the audience by queen contest chairman Laura Roots Spence who provided a brief biography on each of the teens.
At the request of one audience member  the girls returned to the lectern and shared what piqued their interest in running for the title of Miss Ripon and the thrill of wearing the Almond Blossom Festival crown.  Most have lived in Ripon for all their lives and told of being awed by former princesses and queens they had seen in the festival parade and wanting to follow suit when they were old enough.
All the girls, except for Nicolle Driesen, attend Ripon High School. Driesen is a student at Ripon Christian High and is just as bubbly as all of her peers.  Next Wednesday the girls will be the guests of the Ripon Rotary Club at Spring Creek Country Club where they will mix with Rotarians and have the experience of breaking the ice with more people they have yet to meet across a dinner table.
The senior citizen ladies were interested in knowing how the girls were selected to be in the contest and whether the numbers were the same each year.  Spence explained that the young ladies simply had to submit an application and added that the chamber tries to keep their numbers down to eight or nine in the contest.  The contestants are grilled yearly on the use of the perfect etiquette in everything from properly carrying themselves to the simple chore of setting a dinner table place setting and conversing with someone new to them.
She added that the girls are expected to sell $1,000 worth some tickets to the festival that will give them 20 points in their scoring toward becoming the queen.  The net proceeds of the ticket sales goes toward scholarships that are offered to the top scoring young ladies who are judged throughout the pre-festival challenges and orientations toward being a perfect lady.

To contact Glenn Kahl, email