• WHAT: 48th Almond Blossom Festival kick-off dinner
• WHEN: Thursday, Jan. 14, 6 p.m.
• WHERE: Ripon Community Center. 334 Fourth St.
• COST: $30 with ticket deadline this Friday
• MORE INFO: Call Ripon chamber at 599-7519
RIPON – Joie Darretta had heard rumblings about how much fun being involved with the annual Almond Blossom Queen Court can be.
So rather than sit on the sidelines, Darretta – a Ripon Christian junior – threw her hat into the ring to see exactly what the whole experience is all about.
“I had people telling me how great of an experience it is, and I thought that it would be a great way to get involved with the community,” said Darretta – the daughter of Joe and Lori Darretta. “I thought it would be a great way to build up some self-confidence and step outside of my comfort zone a little bit.”
Darretta will be joining Annaliese Ippolito, Megan, Kuhn, Karena Stephens, Chantyl Vasquez, and Sarah Ambrose as the six candidates vying for the title of Miss Ripon – currently held by Camila Sweaney.
With a long list of community involvement – including working at Vacation Bible School, volunteering time to assist local Ripon residents, volunteering at the Ripon Christian baseball and basketball camps, and working with the Almond Valley Youth Group (which includes mission work in Redlands, Calif. and at the Stockton Gospel Mission) – Darretta is no stranger to keeping herself occupied outside of school.
And with ambitions to attend a four-year university and study interior design, she’s aiming high when it comes to the future.
But while being involved with the Almond Queen Court is something she’s looking forward to, she’s also excited about the upcoming Ripon Almond Blossom Festival – which includes a parade and often draws thousands of people from outside of town that enjoy the quaint atmosphere on the festive weekend.
“I’m looking forward to the end of the buildup when everything takes place on the weekend of the fair,” Darretta said. “You get so many people that come to town once a year to see family and friends, and there’s a general feeling that everybody is there together. It’s great to be able to be a part of that tradition.”
Darretta will make her first public appearance with the other candidates on Thursday, Jan. 14, when she gives a speech at the conclusion at the end of Ripon Almond Blossom Festival Kick-Off Dinner at the Ripon Community Center. The dinner begins at 7 p.m.
The 2010 Ripon Almond Blossom Festival will begin on Thursday, Feb. 25, with the crowning of the 2010 Miss Almond Blossom at the Community Center. The carnival and the festival will begin on Friday, with the parade to begin on Saturday morning.