EXPENSIVE GOWNS, sparkly crowns, and hairspray galore … these are just a few things that come to mind when one thinks about the pageant world. While these are some physical representations of this year’s Miss Florida Citrus Pageant — hosted in Winter Haven this past March — one particular young lady brought home more than just a beautiful crown … She now has a responsibility to represent the Florida citrus industry.
It’s been more than ten years since the last Miss Florida Citrus was crowned. On March 21, 2015, Ormond Beach native Summer Foley was crowned the 2015 Miss Florida Citrus at the Miss America preliminary pageant. Foley was crowned by 2004 Miss Florida Citrus, Nikki Upthegrove Matthews, who was the last person to hold this title. “I represent not just one part of Florida, but an entire industry,” says Foley. “My favorite part so far about holding this title is getting the opportunity to meet so many new people and to not only share my story, but the importance of the citrus industry!”
Sponsored by Florida’s Natural Growers, Foley will represent the industry in the Miss Florida Pageant this summer. Along with her participation in this next pageant, Foley will also represent the Florida citrus industry at various speaking engagements and functions around the state. “During my tenure, I hope to raise positive awareness for the industry, and for an issue my own loved ones face, substance abuse support,” says Foley.
The newly crowned Miss Florida Citrus has already started making her rounds and embracing her new title. “Over the past two weeks, I have learned about industry issues, like the developer-local balance and citrus greening disease. I have met growers, farmers, and some of the most lovely families,” says Foley. And on top of this, “I have eaten some of the best barbecue I have ever had,” she adds.
Along with an entry into the 2015 Miss Florida Pageant and an official Miss America crown and trophy, Foley also received a $1,000 scholarship to the college of her choice along with various other prizes. “I plan to attend a musical theater conservatory where I will continue training in voice, acting, and dancing …” she explains. A performer at heart, Foley hopes to make it on Broadway one day.
The winner of the Miss Florida Pageant, taking place in June, will advance to the Miss America Pageant in September. While Miss Florida Citrus was only her second pageant she’s ever participated in, Foley hopes to continue on this journey of pageantry. “I hope to take full advantage of the opportunity I have as Miss Florida Citrus to represent the Florida citrus industry with dignity and respect,” she continues, “including pursuing the positions of Miss Florida and hopefully Miss America.”
For more information or to schedule Miss Florida Citrus for an appearance, you can contact Florida Citrus Hall of Fame Executive Director Brenda Eubanks Burnette at BBurne1003@aol.com.
article by ANDREA REEVES