2014 ALMOND BLOSSOM FESTIVAL
• 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.
Last year was the first time that Kaylie Schaeffer went to the Almond Blossom Queen coronation ceremony.
And she knew, right then and there, that it was something that she wanted to be a part of.
The Ripon High School senior – an aspiring veterinarian – saw all of the families in the front row and all of the people in the crowd and the way that the entire town had turned out for one single event. Sure she knew about Miss Ripon, but seeing everything play out before her put it into a different perspective.
She hopes that come February, she’ll be the one standing on the stage with the shocked look on her face.
“It’s an event that means a lot to the community,” Schaeffer said. “I’m glad that this year I get to be a part of it. I get to see it from a different light.”
Schaeffer is one of seven young women currently vying for the Almond Blossom crown – joining Kaitlyn Bradley, Francesca Arnaudo, Jessica Carmona, Desirey Ormonde, Krista Tyhurst and Alyssa Sikkema in the pursuit of the crown and sash.
On the surface, she knows that it’s a competition.
Each of the girls will be put through a number of paces that will test their composure and their public interaction skills as they march towards the February festival, including a personal essay and interview and speech and even a trip down the runway.
Schaeffer believes her spontaneity – she credits being happy and crazy as two of her strong suits – will weigh in her favor and allow her to pick up certain traits that she knows are important.
But she also sees it as much more than just a competition. The other six contestants, she said, will all likely become close friends if they aren’t already. The tools that she’ll learn either through experience or from the handful of informational sessions that are held for the candidates will benefit her beyond the Almond Blossom parade and even her time at Ripon High School.
The small community that she calls home, she said, has been a blessing to her and her friends. Now it’s all about doing what she can to represent it to the best of her ability, and giving back wherever she can.
“It’s such a tight-knit place where everybody knows everybody else – it’s something that everybody always says but it’s true,” Schaeffer said. “You know that this town has your back. I like that.”
Schaeffer plans on attending Stanislaus State after she graduates in the spring. She’s currently involved with Girl’s League, the Fellowship of Christian Athletes, the Gay-Straight Alliance and Drama Club. She has also participated on the water polo, volleyball and swim teams and has volunteered in the nursery at Shelter Cove Community Church.
Shaeffer is the daughter of Stacy Blumberg and David Schaeffer.