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Queen crowning kicks off Ripons 48th Almond Blossom Festival
2009 Miss Ripon Camila Sweaney, shown at this year’s fashion show, will end her reign on Thursday. - photo by HIME ROMERO


• WHAT: 48th annual Ripon Almond Blossom Festival
• WHERE: Mistlin Sports Park
• TIME: Festival grounds are open Saturday and Sunday at 10 a.m. and includes a carnival. The carnival is open tonight at 5:30 p.m. as well as Friday, Saturday, and Sunday. The parade is Saturday at 11 a.m.
• MORE INFO: Call the Ripon Chamber of Commerce office at 599-7519

RIPON – The reign of current Miss Ripon Camila Sweaney will come to an end Thursday.

That’s when Sweaney will hand over the crown and the position to one of six current Almond Queen candidates – Sarah Ambrose, Joie Darrettta, Annaliese Ippolito, Megan Kuhn, Chantyl Vasquez, and Karena Stephens. They have spent the last two months proving themselves to a group of judges that will ultimately decide who will next represent the “Almond Capital of the World.”

The annual Almond Queen Coronation ceremony begins at 7 p.m. at the Ripon Community Center – located at 334 W. Fourth Street. It immediately follows the annual Ripon Lions Spaghetti Dinner and Ripon 4-H pie sale.

Thursday also marks the first day of the Almond Blossom carnival at Mistlin Sports Park where $1 rides will be the main attraction.

It was more than a month ago when the six Almond Queen hopefuls were first introduced to the community at the kick-off dinner for the 48th annual Almond Blossom Festival – delivering prepared speeches detailing different aspects about the 100 years of Scouting and the benefits the organization has provided in that span of time.

Since then, they have collectively sold raffle tickets to help raise money for Soroptimist International of Ripon – the group that sponsors and runs the annual Almond Queen court – as well as write an essay about Boy/Girl Scouts of America at Ripon High School and strut their stuff on the runway at the organization’s annual Fashion Show fundraiser.

The money that the Ripon Soroptimists take in from the fundraising proceeds helps finance the handful of community outreach efforts they support on an annual basis.

While the entire court will be included in the Almond Blossom Parade on Saturday – that begins on Fourth Street before snaking down Vera Avenue and onto the homestretch of Main Street – it’ll be the newly crown Almond Blossom Queen that will be one of the event’s biggest highlights.

The parade will begin at 11 a.m., while the annual diaper derby will take place at the Ripon High School gymnasium at 10 a.m. a fun run will start at 8:30 a.m. while an 8K Almond Blossom run is scheduled to start at 9 a.m. The Almond Blossom Festival will formally open Saturday at 10 a.m. at the Mistlin Sports Park after the initial Friday opening brings the community together.