Introducing the 2011 Michigan Apple Queen and Court
Alyson Wendzel – 2011 Michigan Apple Queen
Hello, my name is Alyson Wendzel and I am proud to hold the title of Michigan Apple Queen 2011. I am from the small farming community of Watervliet, Michigan and my family is part of Grandview Orchards, Greg Orchards, and Coloma Frozen Foods in the Southwest Michigan area. I have lived on the family farm my whole life and apples are definitely a huge part of it and mean a lot to me.
The queen contest, which was held at the Amway Grand Plaza Hotel in Grand Rapids on December 7 was a day full of nerves, excitement, and a lot of hairspray. It started out with practice in the Ambassador Ballroom. I was nervous at first, but it passed quickly when I realized how nice all of the other contestants and committee members were. It also helped that the very first thing we did was eat a delicious snack provided to us by the apple committee. Rehearsal went by quickly, but I felt like I was ready for the on stage part of the pageant. Next was the reception with the judges and our interviews. I was definitely nervous for this part but soon found out that the judges were very nice and I was able to talk to them with ease. After our interviews we were sent back up to our rooms to get ready for the pageant. I was getting excited now. We then took pictures in the lobby of the hotel and I was able to see my family one last time before I went on stage. The stage looked beautiful. The pageant was exciting and before I knew it, it was all over and I had been crowned 2011 Michigan Apple Queen! I was overwhelmed with excitement.
The next day my first runner up Hillary Heeren and I headed down to the Expo floor and got to meet a lot of great people from the agricultural industry. We took a lot of pictures and spoke to many people. We also attended a luncheon and a formal dinner, both of which had amazing speakers that I really enjoyed. And although at the end of the day I was exhausted, I was ecstatic about everything this upcoming year has in store for me. I soon realized that my year will be filled with many exciting activities such as parades, visiting classrooms and farm markets! It is such a great honor to hold the title of Michigan Apple Queen and I am looking forward to an exciting and eventful year representing the Michigan Apple Industry and our wonderful Michigan apples.
Hillary Heeren – First Runner-up
Greetings, I am Hillary Heeren. I was crowned as the Michigan Apple Court Representative for 2011.
Growing up in the heart of Michigan apple country known to those who live there as “The Ridge”, I had beautiful apple orchards surrounding my childhood home. It was there I first dreamed of one day partaking in the Michigan Apple Queen Pageant. My bloodlines from my mother’s family run deep with the Michigan Apple growing tradition, it goes back as far as anyone alive now can remember. Both of my parents have longstanding ties in Alpine Township where my mother’s family grew apples and where Heeren Brother’s Produce, the business started in 1931 by my great-grandfather and his brother on my father’s side, began packing and shipping Michigan apples. I am proud to be a part of my family’s strong traditions within the agricultural industry.
Being in the Michigan Apple Queen Pageant is a family tradition on my father’s side. All of my cousins who are older than I am have run in previous years. The first Michigan Apple Queen Pageant I remember was when my cousin Jamie Versluis ran. She was crowned the Michigan Apple Queen that year and I was so excited when I was able to visit her at the beautiful float she was on. Having been crowned as a court member I feel as excited as when I was little all over again only this time with my own shiny crown!
The pageant was everything I hoped it would be and more. Throughout the process of preparing for the pageant, during the pageant, and after the pageant the other contestants were very kind. My favorite part was getting to bond with the other ladies at a pizza party held after the pageant in our chaperone’s room.
I know events such as reading at schools, visiting the quaint farmer’s markets and, seeing the many towns which I will be traveling to will be very exciting. I know this will be a wonderful opportunity where I will meet many people and have lots of fun! I am very excited to get started and looking forward to a great year!
All photography is courtesy of Lisa Shafer Photography.