Living in the OC: Getting in the ‘Spear-It.’

June 1, 2016

‘Living in the OC’ is sponsored by Springstead Law Offices, with locations in Hart and Fremont, 231-873-4022 (Hart), www.springsteadlaw.com.

OCEANA COUNTY — Four local women are vying for the title of Asparagus Queen for the 43rd Annual National Asparagus Festival.

The winner will be crowned this Saturday, June 4, during the Asparagus Queen Pageant/Fundraiser at the Shelby High School, beginning at 6 p.m.

The asparagus festival is set for next weekend, June 10-12, with the Joan Glover Grand Royale Parade on Saturday, June 11, at 2 p.m. in Hart.

New this year, the winning candidate will be awarded a $1,000 scholarship to apply toward 1) furthering her education in an accredited institution or 2) a charitable Oceana County organization approved by the National Asparagus Festival Board of Directors.

During her reign, the Asparagus Queen will be featured in various parades and festivals throughout the State of Michigan, promoting the asparagus industry, Oceana County and the National Asparagus Festival.

As Oceana County gets in the “spear-it” for its unique festival, take a look at the four candidates competing for the titles of queen and runner-up. Asparagus Queen 2015 Courtney Kokx and Runner-Up Konnie Vandervelde will crown their successors.

Mandy Achterhof

Mandy Achterhof

Mandy Achterhof

Mandy, 18, describes herself as kind, honest and dependable. From Walkerville, she grew up on a dairy farm and graduated in 2015 from Walkerville High School, where she was Student Body President, National Honor Society member and Valedictorian. She now attends Grace Bible College in Grand Rapids, majoring in elementary education and still finds time to play on the women’s basketball team. She currently works for the Sands Restaurant in Silver Lake.

Mandy loves playing basketball, cooking and baking, seeking adventures and volunteering for many school and community functions, including the 2015 National Asparagus Festival. She plans to use her prize money to further her education. Having picked asparagus since she was 10 years old, she says her favorite way to eat it is grilled or deep-fried.

Sponsor: Sands Restaurant, Silver Lake

Mary Harris

Mary Harris

Mary Harris

Mary, 25, describes herself as motivated, ambitious and friendly. She was born and raised in Lapeer, Michigan, moving to Hart after her freshman year of college for an internship. Graduating from Michigan State University in 2013 with a degree in crop and soil science, she now works full-time as an agronomist for North Central Co-op. She is an active member of the Young Farmers of Farm Bureau, Pomesters Club, and volunteers in the West Shore, Hart and Fremont High School ag classes. She hopes to improve her career and help more young people become interested in agriculture.

In her free time, Mary enjoys backpacking, bowling, playing guitar, softball and running. She is in the process of running a half-marathon in all 50 states. She plans to donate her prize money to Future Farmers of America. Her favorite way to eat asparagus is deep-fried or in cheese soup.

Sponsor: North Central Co-Op, Hart

Kendra Quick

Kendra Quick

Kendra Quick

Kendra, 26, describes herself as enthusiastic, determined and compassionate. Graduating from Mason County Central schools in 2007, she went on to attend Cottey College in Nevada, Missouri, where she earned an associate’s degree in arts. She returned home to attend West Shore Community College for a year, and then received her bachelor’s degree in general education with an emphasis in special education from Western Michigan University. She works at Oceana Home Partnership, which will be the recipient of her prize money. As the client services coordinator, she is passionate to end homelessness and provide safe and stable housing in our community.

Kendra serves on the Board of the Manistee Civic Players, having had an avid interest in theatre since childhood. She loves acting on stage, and floating with her husband on the Pere Marquette River. She says, “All asparagus is great asparagus, but pickled and fried can’t be denied.”

Sponsor Ruby Creek Store LLC, Branch

Amber Splane

Amber Splane

Amber Splane

Amber, 17, describes herself as outgoing, independent and compassionate. She will graduate from Shelby High School in June 2016. Her family moved to Hart during her sophomore year and she admits she has been amazed by the agriculture and amounts of fresh foods available in Oceana County. Last year she was awarded the CBYX (Congress-Bundestag Youth Exchange) Scholarship and spent a year in Germany studying and representing the United States. This year, she is working hard to receive her nurse’s aide certification, and then on to Ferris State University in the fall, where she has a full academic scholarship. At Ferris, she will study to obtain her degree as a nurse practitioner, using the prize money to further her education.

Amber says she has enjoyed seeing the Asparagus Queen in parades and treasures a photograph of the Asparagus Queen and herself in Traverse City when she was only 10 years old. She loves to eat deep-fried asparagus dipped in ranch dressing.

Sponsor: West Coast Integration, Hart

For more information about the festival and the queen’s pageant, visit www.nationalasparagusfestival.org or check out the National Asparagus Festival Facebook page.

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