GTPulse: Sierra Moore: Two Year Cherry Queen
Last June I was following four National Cherry Queen candidates in their quest to become crowned the 2019 Cherry Queen. During the week of the festival, they were required to stay in a hotel with the other girls, wake up early to get ready to attend a variety of different activities. From pit spit competitions to pancake breakfasts, parades, tea time, and many other cherry themed festivities, they were in constant contact with the public and had to be aware of their demeanor and appearance at all times. For the young women running, it’s an exhausting and exciting experience. For the young woman chosen, those activities and standards become apart of their everyday life for a year until next year’s festival queen is chosen. But what happens when there’s no National Cherry Festival?
Last year Sierra Moore was chosen to be 2019’s Cherry Queen. She understood that accepting the crown meant being the face of NCF and the Northern Michigan cherry industry. What she couldn’t have known was that she would be queen for two years.
Last summer each candidate showed me around their favorite places that remind them of home. Sierra’s childhood was spent on Old Mission Penisula where her family home is and we spent an afternoon eating white cheddar with crunchy edges at the Old Mission General Store, walking along Haserot Beach, and hanging out with the family chickens that live in her backyard.
“Yes, the chickens are doing well!”
She’s home from Kalamazoo College where she studies biology and psychology but will be returning to campus soon for her last semester, which will look a bit different than the rest of her college experience as most of her classes will be virtual.
Spending her last year as Cherry Queen has been memorable for Sierra. She was able to promote the region as the #th queen, and without a festival happening this year she will spend a second year with the title.
“Once I got crowned I started right away. So for a lot of the rest of that summer, every weekend I was traveling to a lot of local communities. When fall came around I attended agricultural events. I was down in Lansing promoting the awesome cherry industry we have in Traverse City. I’ve also done a lot of work with kids and have visited different local elementary schools and got to read the kids some fun books and tell them how we live in such a unique town where we grow 70 percent of the nation’s cherries right here. It’s been a lot of educating from both sides.”
It had been a great year as queen until the coronavirus took over. Sierra’s school life, social life, and cherry queen life all rapidly changed.
“Everything was great up until this pandemic. A few things had to change. We had a few scheduled media trips that had to be canceled, and then of course the Cherry Festival.”
She didn’t know what those changes would look like for NCF until it got canceled. It’s a tradition for the reigning cherry queen to accompany then running candidates (the ‘queen’s court’) to all of the busy and exciting scheduled events. At the end of the week when a new queen is chosen, it would have been Sierra crowning the new queen. But this year, NCF and the queen’s committee asked Sierra if she would consider remaining queen for another year.
“Honestly, I felt relieved and grateful for it,” she said.
This year’s activities weren’t completely snuffed out for Sierra. Festival princes and princesses are children from local area schools participating as enthusiastic and adorable festival ambassadors. Every year a parade float is built to represent Junior Royalty from different schools.
“I’ve been lucky enough to have been apart of cherry power hour with all the prince and princesses. For several weeks we met via zoom for a cherry trivia night, cooking, a movement class, and many many more. During this period I was really able to interact and engage with the kids to keep their cherry spirit alive making them feel super special during this difficult time. I even made a few runs around town to deliver their cherry prince and princess outfits and other goodies. We also had a porch parade where all the kids decorated their own cars and we were escorted around town waving to folks and checking out the decorated cherry porches. It was a once in a time experience for me as the cherry queen to be able to hang out so much with the prince and princesses!”
At events nationwide, the Cherry Queen is an advocate for Michigan’s cherry farmers. IT’s customary for queens to visit cherry farmers across the region, but that was another tradition that had to be mostly foregone.
“This past harvest season, I didn’t get out too much. I made a trip out to the Sayler’s farm to a cherry pie make and bake with gt pie co. I was able to roam around for a little bit and talk to Mr. Sayler about harvest season but unfortunately not too much. Trying to keep our distance and keep everyone safe. Although the festival has been putting out educational videos on Facebook to keep everyone informed of the cherry harvest this season.”
There’s always hope that next year may give her an opportunity to enjoy some of these things. For now, Sierra is promoting in ways that are safe, socially distant, and mostly virtual. But she’s still getting to do what she loves; promote our region, farmers, and cherries.
“Past queens have told me that some of the most special moments are being able to be cherry queen during the Cherry Festival. I wouldn’t have felt like I fulfilled my year if I didn’t get to roam downtown with my court during Cherry Festival as queen.”
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