The much-awaited evening is almost here for 10 excited candidates at this year’s Apple Blossom Royalty Selection Pageant. Friends and families will attend Saturday’s festivities in the hundreds, though most — over 250 — in cardboard cutout form.

The pageant starts at 7 p.m. in the Numerica Performing Arts Center, preceded for an hour by the Countdown to Coronation. Candidates have been preparing for the event over the last few weeks.

Top 10 finalists are Olivia Fonville, Kamryn Fowler, Libby Gallaher, Sophia Hernandez, Tatum Kentnor, Olga Murillo, Brooke Perez, Kody Richards, Kaylynn Schmitten and Alex Toth.

On Thursday evening, two days before pageant night, candidates are scheduled to do a full dress rehearsal. Judges will meet on Friday, come up with panel questions and one-on-one questions before the main event on Saturday.

Saturday involves three judging segments: panel judging in the morning, one-on-on judging in the afternoon and selection night judging during the pageant.

Once the stage lights shine bright, candidates will perform an opening number after a choreographed dance from Fabulous Feet Dance Studio. During the routine, candidates introduce themselves to the judges and break the ice.

Finalists will then share a 2-3 minute speech on an unknown topic for the panel of five judges.

Next up is the impromptu segment, where candidates will answer three separate impromptu questions. The finalists are then escorted downstairs by their immediate family, followed by a serenade.

The judges will decide who becomes the 2021 Apple Blossom queen as well as naming two princesses. Tess Sparks, the 2020 Apple Blossom queen, will crown her successor once judges have made their selection.

Additional awards to be given out include the Top 10 Candidate award, the Achievement Award, the Community Service Award, the Congeniality Award and the Most Original Speech Award.

This year’s pageant is pretty much the same show as always, and people are “trying to do it as normal as possible,” said Washington State Apple Blossom Festival Administrator Darci Christoferson.

Up until a few weeks ago, it looked as if the PAC seats would be filled entirely with cardboard cutouts, but the region’s move to Phase 2 in the state’s re-opening plan allows for a limited audience that includes family members, award presenters and Apple Blossom board members. The rest of the seats will be filled with cardboard cutouts purchased by festival supporters.

Once finalists finish their rehearsals, they are “super excited for everything,” she said. They are excited to have family in attendance and excited to “have it be as real as possible” this year.