The Queen and Her Court!

After a one year hiatus, the Maple Queen Pageant returned for the 2024 Highland County Maple Festival. To be completely honest, I’m glad I wasn’t a judge of this event, because any of the six young ladies who participated would have made excellent ambassadors for the county. That being said, a Queen and two princesses were chosen, so let’s meet them now.

“Hi, my name is Emma Brower and I am the Maple Queen for 2024 in Highland County. I’m a 14-year-old freshman at Highland High School and my parents are Malorie Brower and Brendan Brower.”

Emma talked about why she wanted to participate.

“I wanted to show people that Highland County can do big things.”

There was also another reason – maple royalty is a family tradition she wanted to continue.

“When my aunt Alicia Pitsenbarger Botkin was my age, she was in it. She was a Maple Princess at first, I believe, and then she was a Maple Queen years later, so I really wanted to be like her.”

Next, the first runner-up.

“Hello, my name is Mary Ann Rogers and I’m a 15-year-old sophomore at Highland High School, and I’m serving as this year’s 2024 Maple Princess. I live in Mill gap, Virginia, and my parents are Steve and Jessica Rogers.”

“I wanted to be in the Maple Queen pageant to be able to forge new relationships with other girls my age, as well as being a part of the community.”

Mary Ann was very confident and at ease during the speaking portions of the contest, and I asked her where her comfort came from.

“Well, definitely my experience with radio club as well as FFA, and the different experiences I’ve had as a youth liaison, because I feel like it set me up for being able to talk to different people in crowds. It’s definitely made me a public speaker, and I just kind of feel comfortable in that environment.”

Next, the second runner-up.

“Hi, I’m Sarah Liller, and I’m a Maple Princess this year. I’m a 15-year-old freshman at Highland High School and my parents are Jeff and Jessica Liller.”

“I wanted to be in Maple Queen pageant so that I could have a chance to represent my county and learn more about it during the Festival and all year round. I’m looking forward to touring all the sugar camps and getting to know more about maple syrup.”

If you weren’t in attendance at the pageant, you missed how Sarah used the flowing wings of her dress to their maximum effect. I thought I knew where the inspiration for her dress choreography came from, and she confirmed it.

“I actually learned that from watching Stevie Nicks do it and when I saw her in concert, she did that a lot.”

Keep an eye out for these young ladies as they represent the county during the Festival, and over the next year.

Story By

Scott Smith

Scott Smith is the General Manager for Allegheny Mountain Radio and Station Coordinator and News Reporter for WVLS. Scott’s family has deep roots in Highland County. While he did not grow up here, he spent as much time as possible on the family farm, and eventually moved to Highland to continue the tradition, which he still pursues with his cousin. Unfortunately, farming doesn’t pay all the bills, so he has previously taken other jobs to support his farming hobby, including pressman/writer for The Recorder, and Ag Projects Coordinator for The Highland Center. He lives in Hightown with wife Michelle and son Ethan. In his spare time, he wishes he had more spare time, especially to ride his prized Harley-Davidson motorcycle.

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