A RICH FAMILY TRADITION
It was a mixture of joy and relief for 17-year-old Cabrillo High School student Emily Rich when she was selected as the Lompoc Flower Festival’s 2019 Flower Festival Queen on Saturday — a victory that continues what has become a long-standing family tradition.
Ms. Rich is the fourth person in her family to achieve the honor, which was won by her older sisters Miranda (2007), Christina “Charlie” (2008) and Karina (2012). Ms. Rich’s crowning as queen culminated a six-month period of requisite fundraising for the Flower Festival and preparing speeches and interviews with judges.
When the judges finally called her name, Emily said her feelings of intense pressure were suddenly alleviated.
“I didn’t get any pressure from my family to do this, but there was a lot just on my own,” she said.
As queen, Emily got to announce the festival’s opening on Wednesday evening and cut the ceremonial ribbon. While today she will be walking around the festival and enjoying a free day, she will spend the following three days handing out festival awards and riding on a float in the Flower Festival Parade Saturday.
This is not the first time that Emily has won a pageant.
In 2012, the same year her sister Karina won Flower Festival queen, Emily won the Little Miss Lompoc contest. When it comes to pageantry, Emily’s favorite aspect is the community engagement that goes with it.
“I’m not really the beauty queen pageant type… I enjoy the pageants that allow me to get close with my community,” she said.
According to her mother Cheva Miranda, the Rich family’s Flower Festival queen tradition began as a suggestion from one of the children’s aunts, who wanted to go out for the pageant herself but never did. She encouraged the family’s oldest daughter Miranda to seize the opportunity, resulting in the first of four queens.
When each of Ms. Rich’s older sisters won the title, she looked to them as role models and enjoyed watching them grow as people through serving the community. Ms. Miranda told the News-Press that she saw the growth in her daughters as well, with each of them coming out of the experience “much more mature” than when they went in.
Having seen how engaged her sisters became with the people of Lompoc, when it came time for her, Emily thought going out for Flower Festival queen was the best way for her to serve the community. However, whereas many former queens go out for the title in their senior year of high school and try to juggle college with staying involved and helping the incoming candidate later in the year, Emily chose to enter the pageant as a junior.
“I did it in my junior year so I’m till in my hometown to help the next queen candidate,” she said.
Throughout her year as queen, Emily will attend community functions around her hometown such as Lompoc’s Old Town Market, where she will give speeches and interact with young children and just like her sisters were for her, act as a positive role model for them. The newly crowned queen told the News-Press she hopes the experience will bring her closer to the Lompoc community and reveal to her new aspects of the town.
“I’m really excited about getting to know our community, hear their stories, and see a new side of Lompoc that I hadn’t before,” she said.
In the more immediate future, Emily is looking forward to riding the float in the Flower Festival Parade, which she described as “a dream come true.” During Old Spanish Days’ Fiesta Historical Parade on Aug. 2, Emily will also make an appearance as Flower Festival queen, riding on a float sponsored by Garcia Dance Studio, where she has danced since she was 3 years old.
The 67th annual Lompoc Flower Festival runs until Sunday at Ryon Park, with the Flower Festival Parade beginning at 10 a.m. Saturday. Admission prices and carnival ticket prices can be found at explorelompoc.com.