WENATCHEE — This year’s Apple Blossom Royalty Selection Pageant still managed to stay on the calendar, even with many events canceled or shut down for the season due to COVID-19 regulations.

A common theme among speeches given by finalists was overcoming adversity brought by the pandemic in 2020. Most shared words of encouragement.

“We were not able to dine at restaurants … but our own cooking skills improved,” said 2021 Apple Blossom princess Kamryn Fowler during her speech at the Numerica Performing Arts Center.

Finalist Alex Toth mentioned how she remembered running outside without a care and reflected on what the Apple Blossom Parade was like in years before 2020.

“At some point, we all wanted to quit,” Toth said on stage. “Life can be unpredictable with twists and turns.”

Changes to this year’s event included temperature checks of audience members before there were allowed in the building. Staffers rewarded each person who passed the forehead temperature gun test with a small black stamp on arrival.

Organizers held the pageant at the PAC instead of the Wenatchee High School auditorium due to COVID-19 regulations.

“We weren’t allowed to be in the high school,” said Washington State Apple Blossom Festival Administrator Darci Christoferson.

A decision was then made to move the event into the PAC — “it’s very cozy,” she said. Overall, the pageant was not much different this year and kept the same format as before.

Those looking around at the new space would have a hard time missing the hundreds of cardboard cutouts around and above them.

The fan cutout idea came when Washington was still in Phase 1 of Gov. Jay Inslee’s Roadmap to Recovery plan. Christoferson said she at first did not think an audience would be allowed to attend.

Wenatchee moved to Phase 2 On Feb. 14, allowing admission to indoor entertainment events.

There was an extra podium for social distancing, questions for finalists were listed on flowers and everybody had the opportunity to buy a fan cutout, she said.

Over 250 cardboard fan cutouts were in the seats of the PAC Saturday night. Audience members sat socially distanced throughout the PAC’s auditorium.

Olga Murillo, 2021 Congeniality Award winner, applauded the Wenatchee community for finding ways to come together during difficult times this past year.

“When this global pandemic hit, we were asked to live a new way of life, to protect our family, friends and people we do not know,” she said. “From masking up to supporting local businesses … our community continues to persevere.”

Luke Hollister: 665-1172

hollister@wenatcheeworld.com or

on Twitter @lukeholli