By Ed Harris
Hostesses are a long standing tradition of the Apple Harvest Festival and this year’s group was inspired by the young ladies that came before them.
“They’ve been role models,” Natalie Nyerick said of the past hostesses. “I’d like to be that for other people.”
There are eight hostesses this year, Natalie, Alexa Mosley, Lily Herman, Antonia Cavallo, Maisey Ayer, Amanda Pedrak, Sarah Dibenedetto and Lindsey Starr.
Festival organizers interview the prospective hostesses. They look for a history of community service, as the girls will be balancing their hostess duties along with many other activities.
In the coming months, the hostesses will appear at numerous Southington events, including the Italian-American Festival, the Taste of Southington, and Music on the Green concerts.
Sarah Dibenedetto said that a few of her friends had served as hostesses in the past and their service had inspired her.
“They were doing a lot of good stuff for the community,” she said.
Maisey Ayer also looked up to the hostesses. She said the hostesses were what you thought of when you think of the Apple Harvest Festival.
The hostesses wear iconic red shirts and sashes as they make their way around the festival and other events, helping out with the various activities or generally acting as ambassadors.
Lily Herman’s sister Grace was a hostess two years ago and it inspired Lily to follow in her footsteps.
“I saw how much fun she had and I wanted to do it too,” Lily said.
The hostesses have attended the festival for as long as they can remember, with the parade being the big attraction. This year the girls will take part in the parade instead of watching from the sidelines.
“Ever since I was little I’ve always gone to the Apple Harvest Festival,” Lindsey Starr said.
Alexa Mosley said that growing up in town she had always gone to the festival.
“The Apple Harvest [Festival] is so exciting,” she said. “It’s the best part of fall.”
For Amanda Pedrak, being a hostess is a way to give back to a community that welcomed her when she came to Southington at the age of 2.
“Everyone welcomed me,” she said. “I felt like a part of the community.”
The annual gala will be held about a week before the festival and one of the girls will be selected as the Apple Harvest Queen.