LINCOLNTON — An exciting group of young women have been practicing for weeks in preparation for the 44ththannual Miss Lincoln County Apple Queen Scholarship Contest. Yes, it’s a pageant, and for some, it’s the dreaded P-word. There is no question that this group of young women is beautiful. In addition to their beauty, they will bring confidence, intelligence and a keen sense of social justice to the stage on August 6th. You want to change the world.
Take Brogan Heavner, a 2021 grad from West Lincoln High School who is now attending Mars Hill University and is studying criminal justice to become a lawyer.
“One of my parents is wrongly imprisoned,” she said. “Ever since he was taken out of my life, I’ve always vowed to go into the criminal justice arena and try to fix the wrongs and exert my influence in the criminal justice arena.”
If she wins, Heavner plans to partner with homeless veterans for her platform.
“I also come from a military family, so it really breaks my heart to see these people who have served our country and then live on the streets,” she said. “Homeless people break my heart anyway, but knowing there are veterans out there gives me a hard time.”
Before entering the pageant, Heavner had some difficulties with interviews. The practice that the girls went through helped her tremendously. Now she can “talk to anyone”.
Four of the entries for the 2022 contest are from Lincoln Charter School, the most ever submitted, according to pageant director Erica Miller.
Camilla Cevallos, a rising Lincoln Charter School senior, decided to attend the pageant to try something new. After graduation, Cevallos plans to go to college to study psychology. If she wins, she plans to use mental health as her platform.
“I think it’s really important and it’s not really talked about,” she said. “I want to shed some light on it and create more resources in our city, not only for youth but also for adults. Somewhere they can go and talk.”
Cevallos has always known about the Apple Pageant and decided to attend this year because she wanted to meet new people and make new memories. Confidence is something she hopes to gain through competition.
Sierra Church, a rising senior at West Lincoln High School, thought attending the pageant would be a way for her to step out of her shell and out of her comfort zone. A gymnast, Church plans to attend college to become a physical trainer or therapist.
“It was easier than I thought,” she said. “I’ve made a lot of new friends. Everyone was so nice.”
If she wins, Church plans to use the physical fitness awareness platform.
“I want to educate more people about how it can help with mental and physical health, especially when it’s younger,” she said.
Four participants are from West Lincoln High School.
Madilynne Burgin was a final year trainee and will begin her senior year at Lincolnton High School in August. Burgin has been in pageants all her life, so she’s comfortable with it.
“I think my apprenticeship training has helped me navigate the road,” she said. “It’s relatively the same every year. When I compete, I like to show people that it’s not what they usually think. A lot of people call me a pageant girl, which I am, but I do a whole bunch of other things.”
After graduation, Burgin plans to study social work in college. When she wins, her platform is called “KIDS” or “Children in Difficult Situations”.
“It’s about bringing children’s voices to life and really understanding what they’re going through,” she said. “I have seen several instances where children have been taken out of the foster care system. The family just decided they weren’t a good match so they were sent back. I feel like that’s really tough for a kid.”
Four participants are from Lincolnton High School. One candidate this year is homeschooled and five are from North Lincoln High School. There are no entries from East Lincoln High School this year.
The 18 participants will be competing for over $8,000 in scholarship funds this year. The theme is a night in the Big Apple.
“A lot of companies helped us this year,” said Megan Schrum Recore, Festival Chair. “The whole point of that is giving out scholarships in hopes they’ll use the money to get an education and then come back to Lincoln County and help it thrive. I think this is one of the strongest groups we’ve ever had. It’s going to be tough for the judges.”
The pageant will take place on Saturday, August 6 at 6 p.m. at the James W. Warren Citizen’s Center in Lincolnton. Doors open at 5:30am and the pageant begins at 6am. Tickets are $15 for adults and $10 for students, five years and under are free. Tickets are available at the box office or directly from the participants.