BY STACEY HICKS and MARGARET PARSONS
TRAVERSE CITY -- Family support and her experience marketing cherry products helped Megan Umulis win the coveted 2008 National Cherry Festival crown after three previous tries at the title.
"I'm so excited I'm speechless," Umulis said. "It took me three years to get here but it was totally worth the wait."
Past Cherry Queen Kelli Kaberle-Cravey, who along with a panel of five other judges decided Umulis' fate, said that although all the finalists were special, Umulis will wear the crown well.
"All girls stood in their own individual way," Kaberle-Cravey said. "Megan will do a fabulous job and I'm excited for her year."
Umulis, of Lake Ann, grew up in the cherry industry. Her uncle owns cherry orchards and her mother owns her own line of cherry products that Umulis has helped market at festivals and events across the Midwest.
Now she has the opportunity to use her expertise for the benefit of the Cherry Festival and the industry herself.
"I get to continue promoting the cherry industry like I've done for the past five years, so I'm very excited," Umulis said.
The 2007 National Cherry Festival Queen, Danielle Moss, said the end of her reign is bittersweet.
"I'm ready to move on but I'm going to miss my Cherry Festival family," Moss said.
Along with the title, Umulis was awarded $8,250 in scholarship money, while first runner-up Jacqueline Pruder, of Standish, received $1,750. The other two finalists, Maria LaCross of Cedar and Brooke Keiser of Bellaire, both received $1,250 in scholarship money.
"Megan is a wonderful girl. I'm so excited for her," Pruder said.