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Almond Blossom Fashion Show showcases hopefuls
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Fashion never goes out of style as models in the Ripon Almond Blossom Fashion Show dubbed “A Century of Memories” demonstrated Monday night.

The nine Almond Blossom queen hopefuls plus 12 community members modeled fashions before a crowd of 300 in the Ripon High School’s Multi-Use Room. The annual Almond Blossom Festival takes place Feb. 21-24 at Mistlin Sports Park in Ripon. For details, go to The 2019 Almond Blossom Queen will be crowned in ceremonies starting at 7 p.m. on Thursday, Feb. 21, at the Ripon Community Center where the Ripon Lions will serve their annual spaghetti dinner.

The queen candidates are Alanna Bartels, Kassidy Isham, Perris Larson, Maira Ortega, Kaitlyn Smith, Maria Soto, Jaden Sanford, Annalise Welsh and Molly Ysit. They were joined Heidi Pedrioli, Arline Weststeyn, Shannon and Mitch Crawford, Dave Christensen, Shawn Maguire, Jason Fullmer, Max Pedrioli, Jo Weststeyn, Lana and Landon Crawford and Taya Christensen.

Master of Ceremonies Todd Davis of Sound Express gave brief biographies of each queen candidate as they were presented on stage They are all juniors from Ripon High School except for two hailing from Ripon Christian High.

The princesses modeled evening gowns in the third act of the evening show.

Maria Soto was escorted by her father Carlos – both avid collectors of music, particularly CDs – that they enjoy searching out at thrift stores and music shops.  They have a joint collection of over 1,000 discs from a wide variety of classical to Korean pop, disco, jazz and country.  As a result of her exposure to such a variety of music, Maria is always involved in many musical activities.  She loves to sing, dance and play the ukulele and trumpet.  Her Dad plays the guitar in his spare time as well.  The father-daughter duo loves music almost as much as spending time together.

Annalise Welsh was escorted to the runway by her Dad Jim noting they enjoy spending time together.  They might take off exploring new places or finding new things of interest.  Annalise and her Dad also sing together and see the latest in the new movie releases.  “Thank you, Dad, for wanting to spend time with me,” she said.  Annalise is a junior from Ripon Christian High School.

Perris Larson was escorted by her cousin, Austin Deshields.  She is the daughter of the late Dr. Melford Larson, M.D. and Fay Larson.  Perris and her cousin have always enjoyed competing with each other at a local bowling alley.  The time Perris beat him, he conveniently claimed that he let her win.  To this day Perris doesn’t believe him, she says. She is one of two candidates from Ripon Christian High School.

Jaden Stanford was escorted by her grandfather who didn’t let his wheelchair from a recent medical issue keep him from his granddaughter’s side.  Jaden and her grandfather Glenn Stanford have always been very close.  When Jaden started kindergarten, her Grandpa would pull her in a wagon behind his bike to and from school every day. He is a retired minister having served in five churches.

Molly Ysit took the arm of her Dad Mario – a long time Ripon Police officer – who donned a tuxedo rather than his uniform.  Her Dad has taught Molly how to shoot a gun, ride motorcycles and drive a stick shift vehicle.  They have enjoyed running half-marathons together, going off-roading in their jeep and kayaking.  The best advise her Dad has given her: “You can either do something about your problems or suck it up and move on,” she quoted him as saying.

Kaitlyn Smith was escorted by her Dad Stephen.  They worked together to create personal hygiene kits and donated articles of clothing for fire victims in fire-ravaged Paradise.  Kaitlyn recalls it being an amazing hands-on interaction with the victims and being able to learn how to help more people who are victims of disasters.  Kaitlyn said she appreciates her Dad for providing the experience to help her prepare for the future.

Kassidy Isham came out from behind the stage curtains on the arm of her Dad, Mike.  She says he has taught her how to do many things including snowboarding, riding dirt bikes and surfing.  This passion for adventure and trying new things has taught Kassidy the life-lesson that if you want something – no matter how uncomfortable it might me – you have to go for it and you will always find it wort the effort. 

Maira Ortega was escorted from backstage by her cousin Lauro Barajas.  When Maira and Lauro were younger, Maira’s mother worked very long hours and her aunt would babysit.  She and her cousin grew up together despite the age difference Lauro has always been here for her – giving her advice about high school and college – being the closest to an older sibling.  Maira is thankful she has her cousin to look up to and to serve as her mentor.

Alanna Brtels came on stage on the arm of her Dad Alan.  They have had a mutual love for 4-wheel-ATVs, so much so, that on her fifth birthday Alanna received a pink camouflaged quad.  She and her Dad would ride together in the dunes at Pismo Beach.   At home he would build mounds of dirt around a little track so that Alanna could circle and jump with her quad until she either tired or broke something off of the quad.  To this day Alanna continues to look forward to rainy days so her Dad can take her out quadding in the mud.

Miss Ripon, Saylor De Abreu from Ripon Christian High School was escorted by her Dad Ralph.  She said her favorite times with her Dad are when they are talking about his culture.  Born and raised in Brazil, Saylor said she loves to hear about his childhood and where he called home.  While she is not fluent in Portuguese, she has picked up some words along the way.  Saylor loves her father and feels “so blessed” to be able to spend time with him and to learn more about the family history.

The chairs of the Queen Committee handling the logistics for the fashion show were Debra Emig and Shirley Jorgensen.  Also on the committee was Connie Jorgensen who spent the last year creating the table center pieces.  Also involved in the event were Char Witke, Julee Fulmer, Melissa States, Vi Sikkema, Diane Ratto and Angela Kackley.

Helen Caetano created the bouquets of roses for Miss Ripon and the nine princesses.

The shops providing the fashions for the evening include Dress Barn, Maurice’s in Manteca, Tractor Supply in Ripon, Royal Robbin, Modesto; and Pencie & Ginger in Escalon.

To contact Glenn Kahl, email