Apple Blossom memories last a lifetime: former Queen Annapolisa

Kirk Starratt
Published on May 28, 2014

There’s no question that becoming Queen Annapolisa is a life-changing experience.

With the Annapolis Valley about to embark on the 82nd annual Apple Blossom Festival, the blooming of the blossoms each June brings back many memories for past queens and princesses to relive and many more to be created for the young women who follow in their footsteps.

Now a resident of Hantsport, Lavinia Parrish-Zwicker was Princess Berwick in 1971 and went on to become Queen Annapolisa the 39th. Then Lavinia Parrish, she recalls that Queen Annapolisa used to wear a red cape and a purple crown with a huge base. She asked Al Whittle, who used to be involved with the leadership competition, where the items came from. He told her the festival rented them from a business in Montreal.

Parrish-Zwicker said her mother, Netina Parrish, was a very good seamstress. She decided to sew Lavinia a purple cape and shoulderlette cover. The festival purchased the crown and her mom sewed the purple velvet inside. The young women named Queen Annapolisa following Lavinia’s reign wore this crown and cape for several years.

“Every time I’d see Queen Annapolisa for years to come, I felt a personal connection to it,” Parrish-Zwicker said.

A week or so before the festival in 1971, she received word that the RCMP wouldn’t be escorting the princesses that year. Parrish-Zwicker said she didn’t have a boyfriend at the time, so she asked a “friend of a friend” to accompany her. That man ended up becoming her husband, Peter Zwicker.

Another special memory for her was having the honour of representing the Valley at functions around the province.

“It instilled an additional pride and gave me confidence to speak at functions with dignitaries,” Parrish-Zwicker said.

Now the chairwoman of the Annapolis Valley Regional School Board, she said she became involved with the board to give back to the Valley. Parrish-Zwicker would recommend the leadership competition experience to young women who are interested. It’s an opportunity for a young woman to advance herself at a very important time in her life, she said.

Margaret Vanblarcom of Kentville became Princess Kentville in 1978 and went on to be crowned Queen Annapolisa the 46th. Then Margaret Bucci, her favourite memory was visiting the various towns in the Valley and participating in the parades.

“The people were always so friendly and gave such a warm welcome,” Vanblarcom said.

Of the many things she learned from the experience, possibly the most lasting is the understanding she gained of how hard volunteers work on behalf of the festival each and every year to bring an event of this caliber to the Valley. Those working behind the scenes seldom receive the thanks they deserve, she said.

Vanblarcom, who is now a member of the Business Faculty at the Nova Scotia Community College Kingstec Campus, said she would recommend taking part in the leadership competition to young women who are interested. It gives them an appreciation for the beautiful part of the country where we live, she added.

“Visiting each town during the royal tour became very special because we viewed it through each girl’s eyes,” Vanblarcom said. “We do live in a spectacular area.”

She said finding the courage to participate means you have to speak in public, conduct yourself in a certain manner and take a chance.

“That’s what life is all about…finding your potential and then rising above it. It’s not easy, but certainly very, very worthwhile,” Vanblarcom said.

The one drawback is the financial burden that may be placed on candidates. She said it would be a shame for a person to be interested but not have the funds to take part.