By TAMMI NAUDUS
The changes of the fall season are upon us, but one thing remains constant in the town of Southington. The tradition of the Apple Harvest Festival will be in full swing beginning this weekend.
The unofficial start came on Thursday, Oct. 24 with the annual Apple Harvest Gala at the Aqua Turf. The event kicks off the fall festival and crown’s the 2015 Apple Harvest Queen.
“Before the festival comes about, there is actually a lot of preparation,” said Apple Harvest Festival Hostess Chair Alyssa Pappas. “The hostesses are chosen by a group of people. There is an application process and an interview.”
Pappas went on to explain how all the girls chosen as hostesses volunteer their time to serve the community. The hostesses have served in many aspects, including the weekly Elk’s pasta dinner, Music on the Green, and other charitable events.
The evening began with a welcomes from Festival Coordinator Jim Champagne and co-chair Chris Palmieri. Both thanked people of the community for their participation in the festival.
“Our theme this year is about growing community pride,” said Palmieri. “It seems very appropriate. We know it’s not only about the two weeks of the festival that we are about to embark. It’s also about the benefits the festival brings year round.”
Palmieri went on to explain how yearly scholarships and charitable donations are funded by the money raised during the course of the annual festival. Palmieri also applauded the parents of the hostesses. “I’d like to thank you for the inspiration that you give to our girls to make a difference in our community,” he said. “We know that it comes from home.”
Entertainment for the evening included past Southington ICON contestants, Erin Gibney and Beverly St. Onge.
In addition, Jim and Rosemary Champagne recognized Lucy Leach for her years of volunteer service to the Apple Harvest festival.
Then, came the main event. The hostesses voted Sophia Possidento as this year’s Miss Congeniality. First runner up to the crown was Katerina Belales. The evening culminated with the crowning of this year’s Apple Harvest Queen, Rebecca Caisse.
“To be honest I was really in shock at first. It is a huge honor to get to represent the entire festival and the community,” Caisse said, but added that all of the hostesses are ready to fulfill their roles to the festival. “I can’t wait to just go to the parade to be able to walk around and talk to people that you normally don’t get to see,” she said.
The 74th Apple Harvest Festival is set to begin on Friday, Oct. 2 at 5 p.m. Opening ceremonies will be on the main stage at 6 p.m.