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Apple Ambassador has missed lots of festivals

Kayce Lancaster has missed the Apple Festival because she's usually working at the family's Grandad's Apples. Kayce Lancaster has missed the Apple Festival because she's usually working at the family's Grandad's Apples.

A committee interviewing candidates for the North Carolina Apple Ambassador title stumped Kayce Lancaster when it asked, “What’s your favorite part of the Apple Festival?”

“I’ve heard it’s fun,” she says.

The daughter of Leslie and Pat Lancaster, Kayce has worked every Labor Day weekend at the family’s retail apple stand, Grandad’s Apples and Such, at the gateway to apple country on U.S. 64 East. Only occasionally on a lunch break has she been able to go.
“Well, I never get to, like, enjoy the Apple Festival,” she says. “And so they thought that was kind of cool that I saw the other side.”
She must have impressed the committee, because they called her five minutes after her interview to tell her she had won.

This year she’ll get to see the Apple Festival plenty. Her entire childhood, it seems, has led to this moment. When she was learning to walk, Kayce’s parents would tether her walker to a pole at Grandad’s. Customers and friends still remember her as that small child.
As she grew up, she began to spend all of her free time helping out at the store. “I started out when I was about 10 years old, and then I started getting paid like three years ago,” she says.
Kayce loves her job and is seriously considering carrying on the family business after college. She plans to attend N.C. State University after graduating from North Henderson High School next June.

“I’m going try to go for marketing and education," she says. "I don’t know if I want to be a teacher yet or not, but I want to do something with marketing. I’m also going want to do a minor in agribusiness or something.”
As the child of successful apple growers, “It’s a lot of pressure, because people come in and are like, ‘Well, are you planning on taking over the business?’ And I’m just like, ‘Yeah. Well, maybe.’”
“It’s a lot of fun,” she adds. “People know who we are, and a lot of people come in here from around the world.”
Her role as Apple Ambassador might seem a mere extension of her everyday life, and she was a perfect candidate, but she worked hard to get the position. “You had to apply,” she says. “You had to go to a school here in the county. You had to write an essay, and then they pick two girls from each school to come in for interviews. We did individual interviews, and then we each had to do a speech.”
Many duties come with the honor.
“Right before the Apple Festival, there’s the kick-off party, and I’m handing out awards to all the sponsors,” she says. “Then I’ll be at the Apple Festival all four days. I do a short speech at the beginning to start off the festival.” She’s been instructed to to remind people to wear sunscreen, in addition to welcoming them and wishing them a good time. “Then I get to ride in the float for the Apple Parade. And then I go to the State Fair.”
Instead of selling apples at the family store, she’ll be selling the Apple Festival and promoting the industry that it honors.