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Miss Almond Blossom may help her learn more about Ripon
Karena Stephens - photo by Photo Contributed


• WHAT: 48th Almond Blossom Festival
• WHEN: Thursday, Feb. 25, thru Sunday, Feb. 28
• WHERE: Ripon Community Center
• MORE INFO: Call Ripon chamber at 599-7519

RIPON – Karena Stephens admits that she didn’t know as much as she would have liked about the businesses in the place that she now calls home.

So rather than sitting on the sidelines wondering about the community she has grown to love, she threw her hat in the ring for the title of Miss Almond Blossom – hoping that the experience of being a part of the community tradition will open even more doors and shed some light onto how the community functions.

“I had heard that being a part of this was a great experience and something that you’d remember forever,” Stephens said. “I figured that it was something I would enjoy. I didn’t really know a whole lot about the businesses or the inner workings of the city, and I’m hoping that this teaches me a lot more about my town.”

Stephens will join Annaliese Ippolito, Sarah Ambrose, Joie Darretta, Chantyl Vasquez, and Megan Kuhn on tonight at the Almond Blossom Kick-off dinner at the Ripon Community Center.

The event – which begins at 7 p.m. – will conclude with each of the candidates delivering a prepared speech about the impacts of scouting on the community over the course of the last century.

The daughter of Vance and Esperanza Anderson, Stephens is currently a senior at Ripon High School where she serves as the Girls’ League Activities Director as well as a foreign student host.

She enjoys photography in her spare time, and also enjoys collecting, fashion, drawing, riding bicycles, and making bracelets that she gives to family members and friends.

Stephens is hoping to attend either a culinary academy or an art school that focuses specifically on photography, and she also harbors a desire to one day act in commercials.

Over the course of the next month, however, Stephens said she’s looking forward to building strong friendships with the other five girls currently vying for the title, and hopes to maintain those contacts long after the next Miss Ripon is crowned.

“When I signed up I knew all of the girls except for one, and the entire process up to this point has been a great opportunity to really get to know everybody that is involved with this,” she said. “Even if I don’t win I know that I had the opportunity to meet new people.

“I’m also hoping to win the scholarship that’s given out on the night of the Coronation ceremony. That would really help me in being able to go to college.”

The 2010 Ripon Almond Blossom Festival will begin on Thursday, Feb. 25, with the crowning of the 2010 Miss Almond Blossom at the Community Center. The carnival and the festival will begin on Friday, with the parade to begin on Saturday morning.