AT A GLANCE
• 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.
Kaitlynn Bradley knows that the Ripon Almond Blossom Festival brings people together.
She’s seen it her entire life – whether its families coming back to town for the annual parade or kids from school getting together to enjoy the carnival games and the rides with one another.
And now the Ripon High senior gets the chance to play a major part in the festivities.
Over the course of the next six weeks, Bradley will serve as one of the seven young women vying for the title of Miss Almond Blossom – earning marks in a variety of graded arenas that include speech, writing, a personality essay, a trip down the fashion runway and the ability to sell raffle tickets.
It can be an overwhelming experience. More often than not the young women develop social graces on the fly, and most credit the experience after the fact for plugging them into the city’s circles and teaching them how to conduct themselves when out in the world.
But don’t expect Bradley to have any trouble with the writing aspect of the competition. An aspiring college English professor, Bradley – who considers herself tenderhearted, generous and considerate – keeps herself occupied with 4-H, Girl’s League, Renaissance Club, Block R and the Dance Club.
“I like how you really can’t go anywhere in this town without knowing somebody – it’s a very friendly community,” she said. “That’s really what you get out of the Almond Blossom Festival. And getting to be a queen candidate shows you some of that. It brings people together and it allows you to learn about the place that you live.”
The daughter of Shelly and Robert Alberti, Bradley says that she plans on focusing on forging a lasting relationship with her fellow contestants and developing skills that she’ll be able to carry with her when she moves on to college after graduating in the spring.
“I think that this is a really good chance to learn about certain things are prepare ourselves for the future, and I really do want to take advantage of these opportunities while I have them,” she said. “This is something that I know that I’m always going to able to look back on favorably. I want to make the most of that opportunity and grow from it.”