Tri-City Royalty vying for Blossomtime titles this Sunday and Monday
By Annette Christie
A sure sign of spring is the happening of the Mr. Blossomtime Contest/Showcase of Queens and the Miss Blossomtime Pageant. The events will be held March 12 and 13 at the Lake Michigan College Mendel Center. Sunday night will start at 6:30 p.m. and Monday night will start at 7:00 p.m.
New this year is an opportunity for the public to help in sending their favorite of the 24 community queens to the Top 10 of Miss Blossomtime. By visiting the Blossomtime website (blossomtimefestival.org), the public can cast their ballot for their favorite young lady to send to the Top 10.
Tickets for both events are still available and can be obtained by contacting the Blossomtime Office at 269-982-8016. Tickets for Sunday are $15 and Monday are $20.
Coloma’s own Ashley Sipla will be giving up her title of Miss Blossomtime as she crowns the 2017 Miss Blossomtime at the culmination of the two-night event.
Cassidy Fickett is Miss Coloma and Miss Congeniality. She will be representing the community of Coloma in the Miss Blossomtime Pageant.
Fickett, 18, is the daughter of William Fickett and Corine Fickett. She is a senior attending Coloma High School. Her future plans include attending the University of Michigan to pursue a bachelor’s degree in International Studies with a double minor in business and Asian language studies. She hopes to volunteer with the Peace Corps and eventually become a Foreign Service Officer.
In school, she is involved in Student Council, National Honor Society, Academic Challenge team, marching band, concert band, jazz band, and tennis.
In her free time, she enjoys reading, playing the ukulele, meditating, writing, geo-caching, baking, and traveling.
Representing the community in the quest for Mr. Blossomtime will be Jacob Sharpe and Zack Heater.
Jacob Sharpe, 17, was named Mr. Coloma 2017. He is the son of John Sharpe and Candi Gabrielse.
Sharpe is a senior attending Coloma High School. He is involved in marching band and concert band. Following high school, he plans to attend the University of Northwestern Ohio to study diesel mechanics.
In his free time, he enjoys golfing, hunting, fishing, tubing, and wake boarding.
Zack Heater was a double winner as he was named Mr. Nice Guy by his fellow contestants and second runner-up. He is the son of Mike and Audrey Heater. The 18-year-old is a senior attending Coloma High School.
In school, he is on the varsity soccer and bowling teams. He is also involved in the AYSO Soccer League and the Kickers Club Indoor Soccer League. In addition, he is in the Coloma Lanes Youth Bowling League.
Following high school Heater plans to attend Lake Michigan College before transferring to a four-year university for a major in a health profession or marketing.
2nd Runner Up Mr. Coloma
Mariel Hallgren, Miss Hartford, will be representing her community as she seeks the title of Miss Blossomtime.
Hallgren, 18, is a senior attending Hartford High School. She is dual enrolled at Southwestern Michigan College where she will earn her associate’s degree in Communications. Following that her future will find her attending the Kendall School of Design at Ferris State University to obtain a bachelor’s degree in Arts and Communications.
The daughter of Eric and Beth Hallgren, she is on the National Honor Society and has earned an academic letter. In addition, she is in marching and concert band, soccer, sideline cheer, Quiz Bowl, Science Olympiad, and The Tribe (pep club).
Hallgren volunteers with Hospice at Home, Hartford Lions Club, Picnic in the Park, Christmas in Hartford, and the Hartford Foundation Annual Christmas Bazaar.
She hopes to expand the role of Miss Hartford into visiting nursing homes with her court and organizing fun activities for the residents, especially those that do not have regular visitors. As a life-long resident of Hartford, she hopes to serve and positively influence her community by being a good example for her peers and the children that might look up to her.
Seeking the crown of Mr. Blossomtime will be Hunter Ackerman, Jake Griffith, and Garrett Brandt.
Hunter Ackerman was named Mr. Hartford 2017. The 17-year-old is a senior attending Hartford High School. He is also a middle college student attending Kalamazoo Community College. His future plans include transferring to Grand Valley State University or the University of Michigan to pursue a bachelor’s degree in biomedical science or biology. He hopes to become a dentist.
The son of Gary and Tammy Ackerman, he is also the Student Council Executive President and is on the National Honor Society. He participates in baseball, basketball, jazz band, marching band, Quiz Bowl, and Science Olympiad.
1st Runner-up Mr. Hartford
Jake Griffith, 17, was selected as first runner-up. He is the son of Tony Griffith and Telisa Griffith. He is currently a senior at Hartford High School. He plans to attend college to further his education in business and management.
He is involved in soccer, basketball, and baseball. He is the captain of the soccer team.
Garrett Brandt, 16, was named second runner-up. He is the son of Gregg Brandt and Laura Burfield. A junior attending Hartford High School, he plans to further his education at Western Michigan University to study aerospace engineering.
2nd Runner-up Mr. Hartford
He is the captain of the football team, has been named Student of the Week, and is on the Honor Roll.
Kaylee Ann Chapin will be vying for the Miss Blossomtime title, to bring it home to the community of Watervliet for the 2nd time in the history of Blossomtime. She is the 2017 Miss Watervliet.
Chapin, 18, is the daughter of Allen and Ginnette Chapin. She is a senior attending Watervliet High School. In school, she is active in cheerleading, dance team, and is a member of the Quiz Bowl team. She serves as the class co-president and the National Honor Society vice president.
Her future plans include attending Western Michigan University to eventually become a physical therapist. She is involved with the Blue Roof Church outreach ministries and volunteers at Watervliet Hospital.
The three words she chose to describe herself would be artistic, compassionate, and tenacious.
Brent Simmons will represent his community in the Mr. Blossomtime contest.
Simmons, 17, is a senior attending Watervliet High School and the Berrien County Math & Science Center. He is the son of Jack and Carla Simmons. He has received varsity letters in track, cross country, marching band, and academics. Simmons is also a member of the National Honor Society, Quiz Bowl team, and Science Olympiad team. Following high school, he plans to attend college to study medicine. He hopes to become a plastic surgeon.
Once the Mr. and Miss Blossomtime courts are decided, they have a full calendar of events to participate in.
The Coronation Ball is a dinner/dance held in honor of all reigning royalty and their friends and family. This event typically has more than 500 people in attendance.
The Lansing Tour is hosted by our local state representatives and includes a visit to the Capital for a tour and luncheon. This also includes a visit to the Michigan State Police Academy.
The Shriners Hospital Tour has been a tradition since 1979 for all community queens and the Mr. Blossomtime Court. This includes a tour of the hospital and a chance to entertain the children at the hospital.
The Farm Tour takes place throughout Southwest Michigan and includes tours of farms and agricultural facilities.
The Blessing of the Blossoms kicks off the Blossomtime Festival and provides a nondenominational ceremony of music and readings. Community queens will participate in an exchange of the blossoms with their sister queens.
The Mayors Banquet allows an opportunity for local dignitaries to present each queen and king with the key to their community.
The Goodwill Tour takes the community queens and the Mr. Blossomtime Court around the area visiting elementary schools, middle schools, and assisted living facilities.
The premier event of the Blossomtime Festival is the Grand Floral Parade, held the first Saturday in May. It draws approximately 250,000 spectators into the Benton Harbor/St. Joseph area to watch the 2.5-mile parade containing more than 125 units.