NAPPANEE — Eight young ladies vied for the title of Miss Apple Blossom Queen this year but only one — Amber Bost — received the crown.
Amber is 22 years old and a senior at Midway University in Kentucky where she’s majoring in Equestrian Science and Business Administration. Amber’s goal after graduating is to practice veterinary medicine.
Master of ceremonies Mark Mikel explained contestants would be judged on interviews with the judges, stage presence, essay on what they like about the festival and why they’d be a good representative and on-stage questions.
During the essay, Bost shared her first memory of attending the festival when she was 5 years old. She recalled seeing “Hannah Montana” perform.
“I still remember how excited I was and that’s the best part of the festival — the joy and sense of community it brings to attendees,” she said.
Bost said when she thinks of the festival she thinks of the rides, vendors, food, entertainment and “of course the largest apple pie in the state of Indiana!” She said her favorite parts of the festival are the parade and Special Olympics. She said she thought she’d make a good member of the court because of her ability to personally interact with people.
“More importantly, I’ve long held a love and passion for the Apple Festival, and I’d love to use that privilege to give back to the town and to those who make the festival possible every year,” she said. “If I was blessed enough to be queen, I’d use it to promote the festival as much as possible; to serve Nappanee and Elkhart County throughout the year and carry out the legacy of previous queens of going above and beyond.”
For Bost’s on-stage question, she randomly selected the question, “What is the most important positive trait you have?” She responded that she was outgoing and has the “ability to talk to everyone and make them feel special.”
One of the other contestants who struggled a bit with her question drew laughter at her response. Kayli Anglemyer, who had several supporters in the crowd, drew the question, “What would be your biggest challenge if you were to win and how would you handle it?’
She hesitated before answering, started haltingly and then replied, “Getting better at public speaking!”
The crowd laughed appreciatively at her honesty, and she said she’d handle it by putting herself in positions where she could get better.
Georgia Wiggins gave a history lesson in her essay saying her family has been in Nappanee for five generations, including her great-great-great-grandfather Jacob Walters who raised buffalo where NorthWood High School is now before opening a drug store in Locke in 1878, which he then moved to Nappanee; and her great-grandfather Kenneth Walters was once mayor of Nappanee.
Kloe Mills won the People’s Choice award, which is determined by the number of $1 votes placed by the audience, and first runner up. Mills is 16 and a junior at NorthWood High School. She is on the swim and dive team. As first runner up she received gifts from local businesses and a $750 scholarship. For People’s Choice, she won the cash award plus gifts from local businesses.
Second runner up was Mallory Wood. Wood is 20 and a junior at Trine University with a major in psychology and a minor in business. She’s a 2021 Goshen High School graduate. As second runner up she received gifts from local businesses and a $500 scholarship.
As the winner, Amber received additional gifts and a $1,000 scholarship.
LILIANA’S LAST WALK
Liliana Lomeli is the outgoing queen and shared her favorite event that she participated in while queen was Tim Tebow’s Night to Shine — a prom for those with special needs and at the festival her favorite event was the crosscut saw competition.
Lomeli is in her third year at St. Mary’s and plans to go on to the University of Notre Dame for nonprofit administration and law school.
In her farewell speech, she said her heart was “filled with gladness, nostalgia and sadness as I bid goodbye.” She said she was overwhelmed by the immense support and love from the community.
“As the first Latina representing the Nappanee community, I’m deeply proud of the progress we’ve made together,” she said. “As a small town Nappanee is making big strides to ensure all members are welcome and recognized. I’m delighted to share we’re implementing a Spanish translation initiative to make our festival and town more inviting and inclusive for our friends and family.
“We’ve come together as a community and celebrated our traditions and worked to make Nappanee a more vibrant and caring place.”
She thanked her parents and thanked pageant chairs Lizzie Odiorne and Morgan Jordan, saying their “unwavering commitment to young women is admirable” and she also thanked Mandy Gerber and the Nappanee Boys & Girls Club for believing in her and said the Boys & Girls Club slogan, “Great futures start here” became reality for her.
In closing, she said her love for Nappanee and its people will forever be in her heart and she plans to continue to be involved in the city that is her hometown.
After being crowned, Bost said, “I’ve been coming to the festival since I was 5 and it’s always been a source of fun and community enjoyment. I’m so thankful for the opportunity to give back to the people who put it on every year. I was raised in Elkhart County and it’s always invested in me. I’m so grateful for the opportunity to represent locally and at the state festival pageant.”
Bost has participated in other pageants, but this was her first time at the Miss Apple Blossom pageant. She said, “This festival is so unique and it brings in over 80,000 people in a few days.”
She said she’s most looking forward to participating in the Special Olympics at the festival because of her volunteer work at Loveway whenever she’s home from college.
“The individuals I’ve met there are the sweetest,” she said. “They have hearts of gold and represent what so many others are lacking in how they treat others with kindness. I’m looking forward to watching them show off their unique talents and abilities.”