Choosing The National Cherry Festival Queen

It’s a program that has survived the life of the National Cherry Festival.

Ninety-one years of choosing a young woman to represent the festival, the community, the industry and the region.

But crowning the National Cherry Queen is far from easy.

"It’s the best week of their lives they told me that this a.m.,” Kay Relyea, director, Queens Program said.It may be the best, but it’s also the busiest for the National Cherry Queen and her court.

The road to get here starts months before.

"We begin the process early November, we put the applications up on our website, we start receiving applications in March, April," Relyea said.

The base requirements for the job are simple, 19-24 year-olds who live in the state of Michigan, and they must be single, never married and have no kids.

But there’s a lengthy job description.

"We’re looking for a spokesperson, someone who’s well-spoken to represent the festival the National Cherry Festival, and our region our industry the cherry industry,” Relyea said.

This group of four was chosen during selection weekend in early June, and was narrowed down from 15 this year.

"Our girls are all kept together, they are without their cell phones and without any type of social media because we want them very present. And over the course of those two days they have four interviews and give a four minute industry speech,” Relyea said.

The judging continues secretly during the festival as the girls attend many events.

"For the first five days the girls do not know who the judges are so they’re being secretly judged, we have six judges so each of the judges does three observations,” Relyea said.

Then more interviews, and tonight Abby Kaufman will pass her crown on to one of them.

"We have been fortunate enough, we always get amazing young women the process it never fails us so we’re very, very lucky to have someone who’s such a great spokesperson for our community,” Relyea said.

The judging ended Friday morning and the new queen will be crowned Friday at 7 at the Queen’s Ball.

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