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Festival announces this year's Apple Ambassador

Jackie Hernandez

Jackie Hernandez, a rising senior at Hendersonville High School, has been named Apple Ambassador for the 2023 North Carolina Apple Festival, the festival board announced Tuesday.

The Apple Ambassador program provides two scholarships each year and is open to all rising seniors in Henderson County. Hernandez will attend all four days of the festival and will also represent the festival at the NC Mountain State Fair as well as other events across the state throughout her senior year.

“This year we had 20 applicants for the Apple Ambassador scholarship, and it was difficult to pare it down to 10. We are excited to announce Jackie as this year’s Ambassador," board President Mark Shepherd said. "She, as well as all the applicants, will make great additions to our all-volunteer led team and we look forward to embracing their input and participation in the 2023 NC Apple Festival,”

Hernandez is the daughter of Josefina N. Ades. She will be awarded a $2,000 college scholarship upon graduation from high school in June 2024.

“I am so honored to receive this scholarship and be chosen as the 2023 Apple Ambassador," she responded when told she had been chosen. "I look forward to serving the community that has given me so much."

The runner-up is Destiny Simotics, a rising senior at East Henderson High School. Simotics is the granddaughter of Mike and Laura O’Connor. She will be awarded a $1,000 college scholarship.
In addition to Hernandez and Simotics, this year’s finalists included Dakota Corn and Madison Corn from East Henderson; LaShea Morlu and Emily Rhodes from West Henderson; Ramsey Ross from Hendersonville; Elizabeth Graham and Leiann Marshall from North Henderson; and Maggie McCall from Mountain Gems Academy.
Applicants for the scholarship are required to submit transcripts, list of activities, provide letters of recommendation and write an essay on the Apple Festival and the importance of the apple industry to this area. The Apple Ambassador is selected based on this information and through an interview process. The scholarship is named for and honors Evelyn Lutz Hill, who served as the Secretary of the North Carolina Apple Growers for many years. She was serving as president of the Apple Festival when she passed away in 2004.

The Apple Festival is held every year over Labor Day weekend. This year it will be Sept. 1-4 in downtown Hendersonville.