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Apple Festival names 2013 Apple Ambassador

Madison Vaughn is the 2013 Apple Ambassador. (Photo by Josh Wentzel) Madison Vaughn is the 2013 Apple Ambassador. (Photo by Josh Wentzel)

A West Henderson High School student who aspires to teach elementary school has been named this year's Apple Ambassador by the North Carolina Apple Festival.

Madison Leigh Vaughn, the daughter of Ray and Tamra Vaughn, grew up in Henderson County and has always attended the annual Apple Festival. Her family lives in the heart of the apple country, where her grandfather, Dean Griffin, and an aunt and uncle, Carla and Kevin Lyda, raise apples. Madison has a brother, Brian.
The Apple Ambassador promotes the festival, growers and the county's $24 million apple industry throughout the year. Apple Ambassadors attend the Apple Festival throughout the Labor Day weekend and the opening ceremonies of the Mountain State Fair as well as meetings of the Apple Growers Association.
Vaughn was chosen from a competitive pool of eight other contestants – two from each public high school in Henderson County.
"This award means a lot," she said. "I've been born and raised in Henderson County and it is such an honor to be chosen as a representative of the Apple Festival and the apple industry. And I'm just really excited to see all of the things I'll get to do."
The selection process consists of essays and interviews.
"I first had to send in an application, write an essay on why I would make a good apple ambassador or what the role of the apple ambassador should be, and also send in a resume of my activities," said Vaughn. "I received a phone call saying I could come in for an interview. So I went in for the interview, after which I had to deliver a short speech describing the Apple Festival to someone who had never been."

The first runner up was Lindsay McNair Patton, who will be a senior at North Henderson High School this fall. Patton, the daughter of Jeffrey and Stephanie Patton, won a $1,000 college scholarship. The other representatives are Kasey Marie LeClair of North Henderson High School, Carmen Elizabeth Cunningham of East Henderson High School, Margaret Anne Dillon and Alaina Nichole English of High School and Megan LeeAnn Raxter of West Henderson High School.
A hallmark of the Apple Festival, the Apple Ambassador program has been active since 1947. The honoree was known as the Apple Queen until 1993, when the title was changed to Apple Ambassador. Vaughn has always looked up to the young women who have had the title.
"It is something that I have known about since I was little," she said. "One of my former dance teachers was an Apple Ambassador so I've always known about it. My parents, teachers, and guidance counselors have always told me about it. I was so excited when I got the award. They called me late at night. I answered the phone and the former Apple Ambassador, Margaret Butler, congratulated me and told me that I had won."
Vaughn, a rising senior at West Henderson, is active in sports and service clubs.
"I plan to attend a university and major in elementary education. I want to stay in Hendersonville, so I'll teach around here," said Vaughn. Her college plans get a boost from the $2,000 scholarship that comes with the Apple Ambassador crown.
"I think I'll gain more confidence because I'm going to have to meet a lot of new people and be able to introduce myself, compose myself and be able to speak well," she said of her upcoming public role.
Vaughn's extracurricular activities include playing tennis and basketball for West, service clubs including Junior Civitan, Pride and Key Club and lifeguarding at the Elks pool. She is a member of Edneyville United Methodist Church.