Three queens will be crowned Saturday at the S.C. Strawberry Festival and reign over the town of Fort Mill for the next year.
Twenty-four contestants will compete in the pageant that will take place at 7 p.m. April 28, at Fort Mill High School. Winners will start work right away at festival events throughout the week and weekend.
Organizers encourage all to come out to support the contestants who are competing in one of three categories – Teen (ages 14 to 18), Miss (ages 19 to 30) and Ms. (women over the age of 21 who are married, divorced or single with children).
“It’s really the first big event of the Strawberry Festival,” said Beth Vanderwalker, Strawberry Pageant director. “It’s a great time to get everyone to cheer on the girls and get in the mood for the Strawberry Festival.”
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Participants are judged on their performance in interview, fun fashion wear and evening gown competitions. Throughout the night, contestants are able to promote their charity of choice and causes they support.
Those who are crowned Strawberry Queens serve as ambassadors for the town of Fort Mill at the festival (main days are May 4-5 in Waler Elisha Park in downtown Fort Mill) and at many other town and regional events throughout the year.
The ladies taking home the Teen and Miss crowns will also qualify to compete at the state level for the titles of Miss South Carolina Teen USA and Miss South Carolina USA.
Most important of all, Vanderwalker said, it is an opportunity for all contestants to meet new friends and improve their interviewing, speaking and networking skills. Contestants help each other at practice and form a bond.
“We are a drama-free pageant,” she said. “We grow a lot of friendships.”
Queens from past years, including Daisy Burroughs who was crowned last year’s Miss S.C. Strawberry Queen, say the opportunity helped them grow personally and professionally.
Want to go?
What: Ninth annual South Carolina Strawberry Festival Pageant
When: 7 p.m. Saturday, April 28
Where: Fort Mill High School, 225 Munn Road East, Fort Mill