5/11/2013 7:00 AM
By Kate E. Matthews Southcentral Pa. Correspondent
BIGLERVILLE, Pa. — The 60th Pennsylvania apple queen, Kristi Kraft, was crowned Sunday at the Apple Blossom Festival at South Mountain Fairgrounds in Biglerville, Pa.
Selecting an apple queen has been an Adams County tradition since 1951, when the wives of fruit growers got together to coronate a daughter of fruit growers at the original Apple Blossom Sunday event.
“I’m super excited! Thank you,” Kristi said upon receiving her cape and crown. When she first heard her name called as the 2013-2014 Pennsylvania apple queen, Kristi’s jaw dropped, and her bright smile carried her through the pictures, interviews and speeches — her first duties as queen.
Kristi is 17 years old and a junior at Fairfield High School. She is the junior class president and student council treasurer. She is involved in National Honor Society, National Art Honor Society, field hockey, health, fitness and the Envirothon. She wants to attend college for business management in arts and design.
As apple queen, Kristi said she looks forward to “the wonderful honor to represent” the apple industry and its people. She wishes to educate children and adults alike about the apple industry and fruit nutrition. Kristi is connected to the industry via her brother-in-law, and in middle school she worked at El Vista Orchards Inc., thinning apple trees.
Sandy Kime, of Gardners, Pa., marked her 30th term as advisor to the apple queen and her committee. Throughout the year Kime organizes and attends a multitude of industry and health-related events with the apple queen.
Apple Crunch is a state-wide month-long awareness campaign in elementary schools during October to get kids excited about local apples. Children get to compare Fuji versus Golden Delicious versus Red Delicious, and do apple-inspired art, games and field trips. The culminating day, Apple Crunch Day, is when the apple queen visits the schools to read children’s books about apples and apple harvest, and of course, share in a tasty treat.
The 2012-2013 apple queen, Joanna Krawczyk, said to the upcoming candidates: “Working with kids is the best thing you’ll do during your reign.”
Krawczyk plans to attend the University of Pennsylvania for biology and pre-med, with hopes of becoming a pediatrician.
Integral in choosing an apple queen is also choosing the best apple dessert. Each of the seven young women running for queen had to bake an apple dessert with no outside help. The 2013 Best Baker Award went to Julia Freed, 16, of Biglerville, Pa., for her original recipe, “apple cheesecake ravioli.”
Amber Warner, 16, of Orrtanna, Pa., Hannah Mangess, 16, of Fairfield, Pa., and Brooke Thomas, 16, of Biglerville, Pa., also ran.
Kime said the state’s apple queen is a “longstanding tradition,” and she nodded thanks to the judges — different each year — who choose the queen.
Both Kime and one of this year’s judges, Jen Reisinger, of Biglerville, Pa., said Kristi seemed like the best candidate because she is “very natural.” Reisinger added that she thought Kristi answered her questions well; she seemed down-to-earth, with a likable personality.
The first- and second-runners up in the contest will serve the year as apple princesses. Melissa Sheffer, 17, a junior at Biglerville High School, was first-runner up. Erika Nordberg, 16, a junior at Fairfield, was second. Both will attend promotional events, parades and festivals alongside Kristi.
Erika’s family recently purchased 13 acres of a retired orchard in the hills above Fairfield, Pa. Erika said it would become either 12 new houses or 13 acres of preserved land, and they decided on the preservation option.
Adams County has played a large role in apple royalty since the first apple queen was chosen in 1951. From 1967 to 1985, the National Miss Apple Queen USA competition was held here with apple queens from across the country competing for the national title. Funds ran out in the mid-80s for the nationals, but the Pennsylvania apple queen tradition carries on in the state’s largest apple producing county.