• WHAT: 52nd annual Almond Blossom Festival
• WHEN: Feb. 21-23
• WHERE: Ripon’s Mistlin Sports Park
• INFO: For information or applications for the parade, Almond Blossom Fun Run or to be a vendor go to the Ripon Chamber of Commerce site at www.riponchamber.org. You can also drop by the chamber office at 929 W. Main St., Ripon, or call 599-7519 Monday through Friday from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.
Alyssa Sikkema has always looked forward to the Almond Blossom Queen.
She remembers watching the princesses riding in the Almond Blossom Parade and thinking that maybe one day she’d have an opportunity to be in that same position.
So when the Ripon Christian Junior got the chance to take out an application and be a part of the 52nd annual Almond Blossom Festival Queen’s Court earlier this year, she figured, “Why not?”
“It got closer to the deadline and I thought to myself, ‘Yeah – go for it,’’ Sikkema said. “I’ve always wanted to do it and now that I am I’m glad that I did.”
And when you’re as busy as Sikkema is, adding anything to the roster is a solid sign of dedication.
For three years she’s been her class representative at Ripon Christian, and a regular member of “The Knightengales” – an all-girls singing group. She spent two years playing soccer and has been active in drama, starring in “The Pink Panther” last year and “The Canterbury Tales” during its run this school year.
That’s not all.
While most of her friends were enjoying their summer vacations, Sikkema served as part of a missionary group that traveled to Ethiopia to help spread the Gospel. She’s active in her youth group at Zion United Reformed Church, and helps every year with their Vacation Bible School outreach.
She hopes to carry that experience into her campaign as Miss Ripon – picking up additional skills throughout the six-week contest. On top of a personal interview, Sikkema will be judged on an essay, fundraising ticket sales for the Ripon Chamber of Commerce, the speech that she delivered at the Almond Blossom Kickoff Dinner and her performance at the upcoming Soroptimist International Fashion Show.
It’s a lot to take in. But for a lifelong Ripon resident, Sikkema said she’s glad to be a part of an event that plays such a big part of the community.
“I love the closeness of Ripon and how everybody is just very friendly with one another,” she said. “I’ve always like the parade, and I’m very excited that I’ll get to be in it this year.”
Sikkema, the daughter of John and Melinda Sikkema, hopes to attend a Christian college after she graduates from Ripon Christian next year – pinning her hopes on Cal Baptist University, Dordt College and Liberty University.
She harbors ambitions of becoming a pediatric nurse at a top-flight children’s hospital, and hopes that a minor in something like sign language or nutrition will further aid in her pursuit of a career in healthcare.