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Howell, Manning crowned 2019 pumpkin queens

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SPRING HOPE — In a tradition that spans four decades, parents, friends and contestants’ family members packed the Spring Hope Elementary auditorium Saturday to crown the 2019 Miss and Little Miss Pumpkin Queens and officially mark the opening of the town’s largest annual event.

“I would now like to declare that the 48th annual National Pumpkin Festival has officially started,” said Spring Hope Area Chamber of Commerce President Allen Barbee. “What better way than with our Miss and Little Miss Pumpkin Queen Pageant, our signature event every year?”

Fifteen-year old Emma Vick of Wilson performed a special dance number prior to intermission with 2014 Little Miss Pumpkin Queen Taryn Reams performing a dance number in the second half. Also providing vocal entertainment was Samaria Baptist Church’s senior pastor Tyler Cone, who sang a number in both halves of the pageant.

At evening’s end, the reigning 2018 Miss Pumpkin Queen Marley Winstead and Little Miss Pumpkin Queen Avery Baker appeared.

“As I stand before you tonight, I cannot wrap my head around the fact that another year has come and gone,” said Winstead as she walked the runway and waved to those in attendance. “This year was everything I could have ever imagined and more. To the next Miss Pumpkin Queen; don’t blink, take in every moment. Never lose sight of your dreams and above all, always remember to simply believe.”

When former Pumpkin Queen Sherri Dew audited the final judge’s numbers, emcee and former Miss Pumpkin Queen Tracy Jackson announced that Sarah Howell had been crowned the 2019 Miss Pumpkin Queen and Annie Grace Manning had been crowned the 2019 Little Miss Pumpkin Queen.

The first runner-up for Little Miss Pumpkin Queen was Grayson Eleanor Moss. The Miss Congeniality award, an award voted on by the contestants themselves, was presented to Rachel Perry. The first runner-up for Miss Pumpkin Queen was Taylor Hall.

Howell is the daughter of Freddy and Kesha Howell and is a sophomore at East Wake Academy, making her the first Miss Pumpkin Queen to be named who is not a student or alumni of Southern Nash High School. The rules were amended this year to allow high school-age girls who either reside within the Southern Nash High School boundaries or have a Spring Hope address to compete, opening the contest to Franklin County residents with Spring Hope addresses.

Manning is the daughter of Greg and Jessica Manning. Annie Grace is in kindergarten at Wilson Christian Academy.

Activities for the Spring Hope National Pumpkin Festival will resume on Friday with the popular Friday night street dance featuring The Embers with Craig Woolard. The Embers begin playing at 7 p.m.

The Southern Nash News is offering digital videos of the pageant. Visit SouthernNashNews.com for more information.

”This is going to be a great festival,” Barbee said.

The annual Pumpkin Festival Parade will be held at 1 p.m. Saturday.