Dec 6, 2023Michigan crowns Kelley Chase apple queen
Kelley Chase is the 2024 Michigan Apple Queen.
Chase, a Michigan State University (MSU) student, was crowned Dec. 5 during the Michigan Apple Committee’s 20th Annual Growers Luncheon at the Great Lakes Fruit, Vegetable & Farm Market EXPO in Grand Rapids Michigan.
Lauren Bull, a Newaygo High School student, was the runner-up contestant.
The Chase family has an apple orchard and her parents, David and Janeen Chase, operate Peach Ridge Orchard Supply in Conklin, Michigan. Kelley Chase’s major is agriculture, food and natural resources education, and her minor is in horticulture. She plans to pursue a career in agriculture communications/public relations.
“I enjoy using my writing and communication skills in the agriculture industry to teach consumers about farm families and to network with consumers as well as producers,” Chase said, in a statement in the Michigan Apple Queen program for the luncheon.
She was crowned by 2023 Michigan Apple Queen Sylvia Freeland.
Bull plans to attend MSU in the fall of 2024 to pursue a degree in finance and a master’s in business administration, to follow her father’s career as a financial advisor. The Bulls are fifth-generation apple farmers, and Lauren Bull wants to take over her father’s business, so he can spend more time on the farm, according to the queen’s program at the luncheon.
Chase and Bull received scholarships from the Michigan Apple Committee, Michigan State Horticultural Society and ChoiceOne Bank.
“The Michigan Apple Queen has the great responsibility of serving as an ambassador for the Michigan Apple industry,” Diane Smith, executive director of the Michigan Apple Committee, said in a news release. “Kelley will be very busy in 2024 representing the industry at various parades, schools, festivals, grocery store events and more.”
Also during the luncheon, Jessa Allen, vice president of membership and events for the U.S. Apple Association, updated the luncheon attendees on USApple programs and advocacy, and working with the Michigan industry.
Keynote speakers were Dana VanderLugt, author of “Enemies in the Orchard: A World War 2 Novel in Verse,” and Gregory Sumner, author of “Michigan POW Camps of World War II.” Both books focus on the prisoner of war camps throughout the state (and the country), housing mostly German soldiers captured during the war, as well as some Italian soldiers.
VanderLugt’s grandfather managed Bos Orchards in Jamestown Township in Ottawa County in Michigan. German POWs were brought to work on the farm and VanderLugt’s book is historical fiction from viewpoints of a young girl at the farm, and a young POW. She read excerpts of the book.
Sumner toured the state to research his book, visiting the sites of most of the state’s 32 POW camps, where 6,000 German and Italian POWs were held. The POWs were put to work in Michigan’s fruit orchards, lumber industry and other work to fulfill the need for labor. A lot of Michigan apples would have rotted in orchards had it not been for the POWs, Sumner said.
Top photo: Sylvia Freeland, 2023 Michigan Apple Queen, crowns Kelley Chase, the 2024 Michigan Apple Queen, on Dec. 5 during the Great Lakes Fruit, Vegetable & Farm Market EXPO. Photo by Chris Koger.