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Eight teens compete for Pear Blossom crown

From top left to right: High school seniors Chloe Acosta of Butte Falls High School, Ruby Cabrera of South Medford High School, Sophia Edwards of Logos Public Charter School, Madelyn Mayer of Phoenix High School, Anna Meek of Crater Lake Academy, Jordan Sandler of North Medford High School, Cara Stanek of Eagle Point High School and Tiana Williams of Cascade Christian High School will vie for the title of 2022 Pear Blossom Queen.

Eight Jackson County high school seniors have won $750 scholarships after being named Pear Blossom princesses, but only one will reign over Medford’s Pear Blossom Parade.

Chloe Acosta of Butte Falls High, Ruby Cabrera of South Medford High School, Sophia Edwards of Logos Public Charter School, Madelyn Mayer of Phoenix High School, Anna Meek of Crater Lake Academy, Jordan Sandler of North Medford High School, Cara Stanek of Eagle Point High School and Tiana Williams of Cascade Christian High School will vie for the title of Pear Blossom queen at the festival’s 32nd annual scholarship competition, to be held at 7 p.m. March 26 at Cascade Christian High School.

The competition will allow the young women to exhibit their school leadership skills, academic achievements, community involvement and ability to think on their feet, according to Pear Blossom Festival President and pageant director Darcey Mann-Self.

The competition involves an essay, interviews with judges and impromptu questions on stage. Self said in an email that they’re looking for “active, involved and intelligent” young women who are “well-rounded individuals, serious about their education and concerned about the well-being of their community.”

The young women named as finalists were selected out of more than 50 applicants.

School activities directors hand out applications to interested senior girls, and each school works with the Senior Royalty Committee to choose five students, then narrow it to a single princess per school.

Each princess has a grade point average of at least 3.5, and contestants participate in classes for speech presence, presentation, manners, interviews and stage presence.

“We aren’t just preparing them for the competition, we are preparing them for life ahead,” Mann-Self said. “We strive to give them the confidence needed to talk to a roomful of people and enjoy it and feel comfortable and at ease doing it.”

The queen will receive another $2,750 scholarship sponsored by Kogap Enterprises, plus the royal treatment at the Pear Blossom Parade occurring April 10 in downtown Medford.

Mann-Self co-created the pageant with Val James and the late Patti Bills to “add a new dimension to the Pear Blossom Festival, and to add a scholarship opportunity,” according to the release.

Since 1991, more than 250 students have received more than $200,000 in scholarships.

The festival’s roots go back to April 1954, when a former resident named Barbara Roddy was inspired by a similar Apple Blossom Festival in Wenatchee, Washington, and encouraged the local Chamber of Commerce, the Fruit Growers League and other Rogue Valley community groups to put together a similar festival and parade.

The 2022 festival parade is expected to include more than 150 entrants, 5,000 participants and as many as 25,000 spectators.

Reach web editor Nick Morgan at 541-776-4471 or nmorgan@rosebudmedia.com. Follow him on Twitter @MTwebeditor.