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Apple Festival names 2021 Apple Ambassador

Callie Stepp McCall is the 2021 Apple Ambassador.

Callie Stepp McCall, a fourth generation member of the family that owns Stepp’s Hillcrest Orchards in Edneyville, has been named the 2021 Apple Ambassador by the North Carolina Apple Festival.

The daughter of Rex and Danielle McCall, Callie is a student at Mountain Gems Academy. She will receive a $2,000 college scholarship. The Apple Ambassador represents the festival, making public appearance throughout the event's four-day run Labor weekend, and at other events locally and across the state. Each year, the Festival selects its Ambassador from local rising high school seniors.

Like many Apple Ambassadors before her, Callie brings a rich family legacy to the job of promoting the apple industry. Her great-grandparents, J.H. and Yvonne Stepp, started one of the first U-pick apple orchards in Henderson County, in 1972, and her grandparents, Mike Stepp and Rita Stepp, a retired teacher, currently run the multi-faceted farm along with other families.

Regarded as a model of agritourism, the Stepp farm in addition to pick-your-own apples has an on-site bakery and shop selling apple cider, jams and other farm products, a pumpkin patch and tours and wagon rides for students and other visitors. Mike Stepp was named Apple Farmer of the Year at the 2019 North Carolina Apple Festival nine years after his father won the honor.

The Apple Ambassador and runner-up are awarded the Evelyn Lutz Hill Memorial Scholarship, named in honor the longtime secretary of the North Carolina Apple Growers for many years. Hill was serving as president of the North Carolina Apple Festival when she died in 2004.

Apple Ambassador runner-up was Sadie Anna Rowe, a rising senior at Hendersonville High School and the daughter of  Charles and Debbie Rowe. She will receive a $1,000 college scholarship. Other applicants were Kylie Varnadore, of Hendersonville High School and Anaya Padilla, Savannah Crisp and Kera Putman, all of West Henderson High School.