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Anna Fassler is Almond Blossom Queen
Newly crowned 2013 Miss Almond Blossom Anna Fassler, right, stands with 2012 Miss Ripon Ashley Bloemhof, center, and first runner-up Alyssa Drennan during Thursdays 51st annual queen coronation at the Ripon Community Center. - photo by HIME ROMERO

• WHAT: 51st annual Ripon Almond Blossom Festival
• WHEN: Today noon to 9 p.m., Saturday, 10 a.m. to 9 p.m., and Sunday
10 a.m. to 5 p.m.
• WHERE: Mistlin Sports Park in Ripon. From Highway 99 take the Jack Tone exit and head north to River Road and turn right.
• ADMISSION: Free. There is a $5 parking charge.
• CARNIVAL: At Mistlin Sports Park today from 4 to 11 p.m., Saturday from noon to 11 p.m., and Sunday from noon to 5 p.m.

Anna Fassler’s boyfriend couldn’t make it to the Almond Blossom Queen coronation ceremony Thursday night.

It’s not like Gonzaga University – tucked way up in Spokane, Washington – is an easy commute.

So Brian Newburg, a 2011 graduate of Ripon High School, had to settle for listening to his girlfriend get crowned the 2013 Miss Almond Blossom over his mother’s iPhone.

It meant the world to Fassler, who gave some celebratory hugs and posed for a couple of pictures before she could make her way over to Debbie Newberg and use her phone to speak to him for the first time since being crowned.

But putting it into words was no easy to task.

“It’s really hard to describe the feeling,” said the visibly emotional Ripon High senior – wafting air towards her face and shaking slightly. “I thought, ‘Did they call the right name?’

“It’s just amazing to be standing here. My mom did this when she was in high school, and I’ve always wanted to do it because it. Now I get to represent Ripon, and that’s such a great honor.”

Fassler, the daughter of William and Ardette Fassler, described herself as bright, eccentric and amiable on the application that she submitted. She plans on attending Dominican University in San Rafael, and credits hiking, fishing and gardening as some of her hobbies.

She serves as an altar server at St. Anthony de Padua Catholic Church in Manteca, and earned a service award from the local Serra Club.

Alyssa Drennan was named first runner-up.

Fassler’s rein will officially begin today when she and the rest of the Almond Queen court are paraded through Ripon on their way to the Canal Street Grill for an afternoon lunch before continuing on to the Almond Blossom carnival at the Mistlin Sports Park.

The queen candidates will once again be on display when they are paraded through downtown Saturday in the 51st annual Almond Blossom Parade that starts at 1 p.m.

But Thursday’s ceremony was also about the passing of the torch – the transition of the crown and sash from one queen to another. And while 2012 recipient Ashley Bloemhof said that she’ll miss being in the position that has opened her eyes to the wonders of her community, she knew that she’d be turning over the post to an able successor.

“One of the greatest things that I got out of this was knowing that little girls were looking up to me and knowing that I could be a role model,” Bloemhof said. “I always loved Disney princesses, and I got to feel like a queen for a whole year. I’m grateful that I got to give back to a community that has given so much to me.

“But if I can offer anything to the future queen – cherish every moment, make lots of friends and take lots of pictures because the moment will be over before you know it.”