The Peach Queen court assembled Wednesday at the Niagara Falls Country Club for the annual scholarship pageant dinner, to meet this year's judges, and to receive life lessons from WKBW-TV reporter and current Miss Buffalo Desiree Wiley.
The 16 applicants also were introduced to this year's judging panel: actress, TV personality and 1989 Peach Queen Natalie Slipko; Susan Swiatkowski, director of marketing for The Conference & Event Center Niagara Falls and Old Falls Street, USA; Michelle Blackley, communications manager for the Niagara Tourism & Convention Corp., and host of "Niagara Now"; Rainbow Air operator and famed deejay Pat Proctor; Jillian Colucci, vice president and commercial branch manager at M&T Bank (Military Road); and Sentinel reporter and Niagara Frontier Publications Managing Editor Joshua Maloni.
This year's Peach Queen contestants are Abbigal Adkins, Sarah Andres, Emily Buzzard, Lindsey Clark, Justina Conti, Taylar Danielewicz, Andrea Donovan, Megan Farnham, Alyssa Fitzgerald, Sara Ann Humphrey, Emma Knotts, Mackenzie MacFarlane, Riley Osier, Alexandria Thibeault, Mikayla Townsend and Elyse Wall.
One young lady will be crowned during the final night of the Peach Festival, Sunday, Sept. 13, at Academy Park in Lewiston. She will receive a $4,000 scholarship, which is double the amount awarded in 2014. In addition, the runner-up positions will receive scholarship funds raised from past queens and current local businesses.
The Kiwanis Club of Lewiston funds the first-place scholarship.
The Peach Queen program is a service-oriented platform for young women. It emphasizes the importance of giving back to the community while meeting others in a fun setting. In order to be eligible for the program, contestants, ages 17-21, must be single Niagara County residents.
Christine Oliveri of Wheatfield is the reigning Peach Queen. She thanked the Kiwanis Club of Lewiston Wednesday, as well as her parents and those who supported her charitable endeavors.
Wiley, of Lockport, shared her own Peach Queen memories, and explained how she overcame high school obstacles to become Miss Buffalo (and first runner-up for Miss New York) and a well-respected reporter and anchor at Channel 7.
Star 102.5-FM personality Brandy Scrufari served as master of ceremonies at the dinner.
Peach Queen events take place in July and August.
The 58th annual Niagara County Peach Festival will take place Sept. 11-13. This year's chairman is Kiwanian Gerry Gismondi.
Peach Queen Christine Oliveri, Wiley (both center) and this year's scholarship pageant contestants. Below, Wiley addresses the audience.