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Almond royalty hopefuls model
Almond Blossom Festival queen candidate Sarah Hall models clothes from the Dress Barn. - photo by HIME ROMERO

Kaitlyn Batterton was quick on her feet. 


The fog machine that had helped create an awesome special effect for the 53rd annual Almond Blossom Fashion Show at Spring Creek Golf and Country Club Thursday night had also created an unexpected side effect – a slick runway. 

And as the Almond Blossom Festival queen candidate made her way down towards the judges, she slipped – catching herself before tragedy struck. 

Ironically it was the slip that broke the ice for the Ripon High School senior who said that the butterflies came before the quick recovery. 

“I didn’t expect that. That’s when people said that I made a quick recovery,” Batterton said. “Honestly it’s the public speaking part that I’m the most terrified of. I’m hoping that this entire experience will help make me a better public speaker.”

Batterton was one of nine candidates that modeled off clothing from a handful of local stores and boutiques including Ripon’s Belissima Boutique and Boutique Couture and Manteca’s Dressbarn. 

Joining her in the modeling was the reigning Miss Ripon Jessica Carmona and fellow candidates Kylie Stevens, Grasiela “Grasie” Franco-Carreno, Draelynn Dabney, Mariah Rivera, Amanda Jean Neely, Sarah Hall, Jenna O’Brien and Aubrey Lien. Maddi Bettencourt and Kayleigh Douglas. 

The event, which was organized by the Ripon Chamber of Commerce, was well attended by local businesses and paid tribute to the local wineries that are being honored this year. 

“This is a great chance to showcase the grape growers that we have in here in our community and having them here has brought in a lot of people,” Ripon Chamber Executive Director Tamra Spade said. “We have nine queen candidates this year which is more than we’ve had in a long time and that’s been great and there has been a lot of interest from the business community and something like this brings everybody together. 

“Tonight we have McManis Family Wines and The Wine Group here and it’s a chance to celebrate the festival and these businesses and these queens.”

And Carmona, who literally got out of class at Santa Clara University and jumped in a car to fight traffic and make it to the event right after the first flight of girls made it down the runway, said it was an event she wasn’t going to miss. 

The role of being the outgoing queen, she said, is one she’s taking very seriously. 

“Last year I had Anna (Fassler) who kind of played the same role I am right now and she helped all of the girls and prepared us for what we were going to do and now this is my chance to put my own spin on things and help wherever I can,” Carmona said – still catching her breath. “There’s a lot I’m going to miss.”