Bowman crowned 2017 Watermelon Queen

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Hightower named Miss Congeniality

By LYNN DEJARNETTE Citizen Correspondent


As the Watermelon Festival parade through downtown Chiefland ended Saturday, parade participants and spectators made their way to the old train depot for the watermelon auction, food, fun, shopping, presentation of festival royalty and crowning of the 2017 Watermelon Festival Queen.

Emcee Daniel Jerrels began with the introduction of this year’s royalty followed by a rousing auction of some of the larger watermelons.

Teen Queen Marlee Coonradt said she entered the pageant because she wanted to represent her age group. She enjoyed talking to people and getting dressed up, but her favorite parts of the pageant and festivies were the dance routine at the pageant and riding in the parade.

Marlee said participating in the pageant has taught her how to keep her composure and has helped her with speaking in public. She plans to compete for the title of queen when she is old enough.

Then came the big moment, the crowning of this year’s queen. Tiffany Hightower and Catherine Bowman made their way to the stage. Tiffany wore a blue gown while Catherine wore a blue and silver gown. Before the winner was announced, Ashley Bruce, who works with the queen throughout the year, said goodbye to the 2016 Watermelon Queen Emma Sapp.

“Emma had been a pleasure to work with and was always willing to do anything that was asked of her,” Bruce said.

Emma received a scholarship as part of her farewell gifts.

Then it was time for Emma to perform her last duty as reigning queen, presenting ribbons and crowns to the winners. Tiffany won the title of Miss Congeniality and Catherine was named 2017 Chiefland Watermelon Festival Queen.

When asked why she entered the pageant, Catherine said, “It’s a dream of a lifetime. I grew up on a farm and love agriculture. Watermelons are a big part of the farming community here locally and in North Central Florida as a whole.”

Catherine said the competition, which includes an interview with the judges,speech, evening wear, and onstage questions, builds interview and public speaking skills, as well as, speech writing skills. She said she has “learned a lot about how the agricultural industry works and how many people it takes to get watermelons fromseed to the local stores and look forward to being an advocate for the watermelon industry and going on farm tours to see how the entire process works.”

When asked what advice she has for a young girl thinking about competing in the pageant, Catherine said, “I would tell them to do it. You become involved in the agriculture industry; the pageant builds self-confidence and teaches you how to present yourself to make a good impression.”