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Ripon chamber show a big success
ALMOND FASHION5-2-8-13-top
Current Miss Ripon Ashley Bloemhof poses with Paige Eddy, 8, who said she hopes one day to be Miss Ripon during Thursdays Ripon Chamber of Commerce Almond Blossom Fashion Show. - photo by HIME ROMERO

• WHAT: 51st annual Almond Blossom Festival
• WHEN: Feb. 22-24 at Mistlin Sports Park
• MORE INFO: Go to or drop by the Ripon Chamber of Commerce office on Main Street.

Denim on denim is the style for this year.

So when it came to sporting that casual look, Andrew Lee, executive director of Bethany Homes, appeared quite comfortable in the all-denim pants and shirt look while on the runway at the 51st annual Almond Blossom Fashion Show on Thursday.

He’s also a past president of the Ripon Chamber of Commerce, which sponsored the event held in the Ripon High Multi-Purpose Room.

This year’s theme is “Blossoming with Age,” honoring Bethany Homes, celebrating 50 years, as grand marshal.

Over 400 residents currently enjoy retirement living there.

But the evening belonged to the Almond Blossom Festival queen candidates: Graelyn Pope, Michaela Ratto, Alyssa Drennan, Morgan Scott, Anna Fassler, and Lauren Van Till.

Reigning queen Ashley Bloemhof, who is a senior at Ripon Christian, was also on hand.

For the six candidates, the fashion show was one of five required areas necessary in the quest to become queen. According to program commentator Shirley Jorgensen, they already completed the personal interview, public interview, and the written essay. Some were still in the process of selling the Chamber’s raffle tickets.

Serving as judges were Geri Lewis of the Howard Training Center; Joann Beattie of Agape Villages Foster Family Agency; and Tony Medina of Alfred Matthews. Jorgensen indicated that a secret judge was nearby to break any ties.

The winner will be crowned on Feb. 21 at the Ripon Community Center.

Meanwhile, Bethany Home employees and relatives also doubled as models.

Music and the lighting were provided by Jeremiah North of Kid Red Entertainment. Catering was by Barnwood Restaurant and Jake’s Coffee, Tea, and Sandwiches.

“Ripon did a great job,” Chamber executive director Rebecca Naranjo said. “I thought (the fashion show) was very successful.”

Over 350 were in attendance for the program consisting of dressy fashions and casual wears from places such as Rossini Men’s Wear (Modesto), Blush Boutique (Ripon), Dressbarn (Manteca), Ragamuffin (Modesto), Dick’s Sporting Good (Modesto) and Tractor Supply Company (Ripon).

Margie Denning-Maston, who is an executive assistant and activities director of Independent Living at Bethany Home, enjoyed sporting quarterback Colin Kaepernick’s No. 7 San Francisco 49ers jersey from Dick’s Sporting Good. She even did a little “Kaepernicking” with a quick bicep kiss.

Eddie and Alex Tavizon, who are the 8-year-old twin sons of Bethany Home housekeeper Juana Jaramillo, also enjoyed their time on the runway by playing to the crowd.

Not to be outdone, Tristan Alexander, 4, couldn’t wait his turn on the runway. Ditto that for Payton McCovey, 6, and Kayla O’Connor, 5. The two granddaughters of Bethany Home cook Carole DeGroot supported each other while modeling the latest in children fashion.

Thomas Young, who works in the Bethany Home plant operations department, showed off his golf swing while modeling the latest wear on the links from Dick’s Sporting Good.

The other models included Rob and Lori Van Duyn; Walter and Lucinda De Frietas; Adam Hutchings; Joy Dick; Diane Clewett; Peggy Anderson; Charlottee Holland; Barbara Camping; Beverly Warren; and 7-year-old Jaden Young.