posted on June 02, 2021
LANSING, Mich. – Victoria Wittenbach of Belding, Mich. will serve as the 2021 Michigan Apple Queen. Sarah Rasch of Grand Rapids, Mich. is first runner-up. They were crowned as Michigan Apple “royalty” in December 2019, however, the COVID-19 pandemic brought the program to a halt. With schools shut down in the spring, parades cancelled in the summer and events going virtual in the fall and winter, the Michigan Apple industry’s representatives were not able represent the industry at all during 2020.
“With all the uncertainty around events and activities that make up the Michigan Apple Queen program, I spoke with our board of directors as well as Ms. Wittenbach and Ms. Rasch,” said Diane Smith, executive director of the Michigan Apple Committee. “The decision was made to press the pause button on the program and allow the ladies who were crowned at the end of 2019 to have the Queen and Court experience in 2021. We remain hopeful that most of the planned events will go on as they have in the past.”
Their debut event in 2021 will be the Bavarian Festival Parade on June 13 in Frankenmuth, Mich.
Wittenbach is the daughter of Michael and Marnie Wittenbach, and is a student at Grand Valley State University. She is the sister, daughter and granddaughter of apple growers.
“I am very grateful to have my reign extended in hopes that I will get to attend some events. When I was crowned, I was excited to meet so many people and share my love of apples with them. Pausing the program in 2020 means that I will still have that opportunity in 2021,” Wittenbach said.
Rasch is the daughter of Barb Rasch and the late Ed Rasch, and is a graduate of Grand Valley State University. She is the daughter, granddaughter and niece of apple growers.
The Michigan Apple Queen and Court typically spend their reign attending events and festivals across Michigan as the face of the Michigan Apple industry. These spokespeople for the industry are customarily selected in December at the Annual Michigan Apple Grower Appreciation Luncheon in Grand Rapids. For nearly 70 years, the annual competition has selected the apple representatives based on poise, beauty, apple knowledge and public speaking ability.
Queen contestants must be between 17 and 23 years of age and have a link to the Michigan Apple industry. The Michigan Apple Committee sponsors the annual event. The queen and first runner-up each receive scholarships from the Michigan Apple Committee and the Michigan State Horticultural Society.
The Michigan Apple Committee is a grower-funded nonprofit organization devoted to marketing, education and research activities to distinguish the Michigan apple and encourage its consumption in Michigan and around the world. For more information, visit www.MichiganApples.com.