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Friday, May 6, 2016

Clarke crowned Queen

Sunday, September 7, 2008

First runner-up Ahnya Alstott (from left), 2008 Popcorn Festival Queen Ashley Renaee Clarke and second runner-up Morgan Keller are all smiles after being crowned the 2008 Clay County Orville Redenbacher Popcorn Festival court. Kimberly Gleason Photo. [Order this photo]
Every little girl dreams of wearing a crown and one day becoming a princess, however, Ashley Clarke is now a queen.

Clark was crowned the 2008 Popcorn Festival Queen at the Popcorn Festival Scholarship Pageant.

"I'm so excited I can't explain it," Clarke told The Brazil Times. "When my name was announced, I was thinking it can't be me."

Clarke is a current student at Northview High School and the daughter of Rod and Elaine Clarke.

Clarke, who is looking at the expense of college, decided to give the pageant a try

"I looked at the money," Clarke said. "The scholarship was the main reason I entered."

"I decided to compete because I have friends that competed in the last two competitions," first runner-up Ahnya Alstott said. "I saw the opportunities that it opened for them."

Alstott is the daughter of Rev. Richard and Rhonda Alstott and a current student at Indiana State University.

"I think my favorite part about the upcoming experience is going to be the parades," Alstott said.

"I'm really excited about going to the parades and festivals, but I think I'm more excited about being a role model for little girls," second runner-up Morgan Keller agreed.

Morgan is a student at Ivy Tech Community College and the daughter of Robert and Melanie Keller.

Morgan's sister Megan Keller was also a participant. Megan was awarded second runner-up last year.

"It was a different experience for me," Morgan said. "I was competing against my sister for the second time, and I won second runner-up."

Family involvement was noticeable with the members of the Redenbacher's family judging.

Gail Redenbacher Tuminello is the daughter of Orville Redenbacher. Pam Bertoli and Eric Jones are grandchildren to the area popcorn legend.

All three ladies agreed that meeting the family was amazing.

"I was excited about meeting the family," Morgan said. "It was a neat experience."

"I thought it was great to meet them," Alstott said. "I really admired them and everything that they do to support the local communities."

One of the highlights of the evening was listening to the 2007 Popcorn Festival winner Sandra Katherine Little give her farewell speech.

"As queen, I was given the opportunity to be a role model for other girls," Little said. "It was one of my favorite parts."

Little also talked about how competing at the state level against other festival winners has shaped her life.

"I've made friendships that will last a lifetime," Little said.

When Clarke was asked if she would compete at state, she replied, "Oh, yes."

Other 2008 contestants in the pageant were Mallory Danielle Heffner, Jennifer Dyan Jeffers, Olivia Nicole Kumpf, Brittany Marie Lucas and Rylee Cecelia Myers.

Luehr's Ideal Rides sponsored the 2008 pageant.

The 2008 Orville Redenbacher Popcorn Festival of Clay County will run from Oct. 2-5. Vendors and free entertainment begin at 4 p.m., Oct. 3.

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