This Saturday's 44th Miss Lincoln County Apple Queen Pageant (6 PM at the James Warren Citizens Center) will see one of 18 lovely young ladies crowned the winner for 2022.
The Apple Queen Pageant started in the late 1970s, a welcomed addition to the Lincoln County Apple Festival.
For those who don't remember (and many who weren't yet born), the Apple Festival started in 1972. The first one was held at the Fellowship Hall of Boger City United Methodist Church. A couple of years later, it moved to the National Guard Armory, and then to West Lincoln High School.
Finally, it migrated to downtown Lincolnton, where it was held the third Saturday in September. That lasted until a weather postponement got it moved to October, and since October was much cooler and thus more pleasant for an outdoor event, that's when it is now held every year.
The Apple Queen Pageant (as it was originally known) is held the first Saturday in August. The Miss Lincoln County part of the current name was added years ago when for a short time, the pageant sent its winner to the Miss North Carolina contest. That association ended, but the name stuck, so it is officially the 'Miss Lincoln County Apple Queen Pageant.'
There has been an Apple Queen Pageant every year but one since 1978. Billie Lucinda Watts (Lawson) was the first. She also competed in the North Carolina Apple Queen Pageant at the NC Apple Festival in Hendersonville. Our Apple Queens did that each year through 1983 when the decision was made to become a preliminary pageant for Miss North Carolina.
Amy Heavner Savage was the only Queen to serve two years; there was no pageant in 1995. The Miss North Carolina pageant requires that preliminary events have a certain number of contestants, and there just weren't enough. In those days, a talent portion was a part of the pageant. That's when the decision was made to return to a local pageant and do away with the Miss North Carolina preliminary designation. The talent portion was dropped.
The Miss Lincoln County Apple Queen Pageant is one of two major community efforts by the Lincolnton Business & Professional Women's Club; the other is their naming of the Lincoln County Woman of the Year at each year's Chamber of Commerce banquet.
There's a lot of interesting history involved with the pageant. Shirley Smith oversaw much of the pageant for many years. Cheryl Robinson Burgess served as the coordinator until last year, when she stepped down in favor of former Apple Queen Erica Miller. Miller, who was chosen Queen n 2013, had been involved in directing the pageant since 2015. She graduated from law school at UNC-Chapel Hill in May and recently took the bar exam. She'll likely be joining the Jonas Law firm when she gets word that she passed.
Cheryl knew she would have to step down at some point because her daughter, Kathryn, had expressed an interest in being a contestant back in 2008 when she met her first Apple Queen. Cheryl couldn't keep running the pageant if Kathryn became a contestant--and she is this year.
One Apple Queen had a tragedy during her year. Ana Acela Perez Ochoa lost her father in a traffic accident on Thanksgiving eve 2017.
Only once has the pageant had twin contestants. Ava Parnell was crowned in the most unusal pageant ever. Her twin sister Grace was also a contestant. The pageant during that year of COVID was limited to family and a few friends attending; everybody else had to watch it online.
We'll be posting an article with photos of this year's contestants tomorrow, but for today, we thought readers might enjoy a look back on a Lincoln County tradition.
While the pageant begins at 6 PM Saturday, doors to the Citizens Center will open at 5:30. Admission is $15 for adults, $10 for students; children under three will be admitted free with a paying adult.